Blindly Tasting Wine (AKA Bougie on a Budget)

Recently, my wife (Anne) and I found ourselves facing a table covered in cheeses, dried fruits, olives, crackers, all backdropped by six black-bagged bottles of mysterious wines. This, in the middle of our old digs, a place so deeply familiar yet newly furnished by unfamiliar guts. Our friends, Virginia and Patrick, now lived there and the furnishments were theirs. They also supplied the mystery we faced that evening, having heard of times that we had managed a blind wine tasting. We brought cheese, crackers, and incisive curiosity.


Each bottle was taped around the neck and labeled with green masking tape. This was no beauty contest. The cheeses: cubed raw milk cheddar, drunken goat gouda, triple cream brie. These were joined by dried figs, dates, olives, dolmas, and rice crackers. Can’t go wrong there.

With our varied provisions helpfully central to the action, it was time to let these wines compete to the death. Patrick was lovely enough to throw together a cursory wine scorecard with the names of each wine. And, we were off!

  • The first wine we tasted was labeled #2 on a green scrap of tape. To me, it tasted like an unoaked Chardonnay, dry and juicy but not for me.
  • Then it was #4. In my opinion, uncomplex but not unpleasant. Didn’t seem like a Cabernet Sauvignon and I didn’t feel like it was the Italian (Rosso Toscana), so I went with Max Cuvee. I don’t even know what that is, but whatever.
  • #6 came next. I don’t know why we didn’t go in order but deal with it. Drinking it was unpleasant. It was like Hawaiian punch but worse – but also with alcohol. For some reason, I thought of the Jersey shore which led me to Italians and so I chose the Rosso Toscana. Sorry.
  • Moving on to #5. The last of three reds – dry and tannic, with a general fruit body. Definitely drinkable. I felt fine assigning it as the Cabernet Sauvignon. Then I poured myself some more.
  • Penultimately, it’s the #3. A light and dry white wine that pairs well with the dates and figs. Patrick begins to talk about our experience here as being “bougie on a budget”. We all agree that he must start a podcast called that and nobody argues that we are not in fact “bougie on a budget”. I chose the Sauvignon Blanc here.
  • Last and possibly least is #1, because why not? Through elimination, I decide it is the Mauzac (whatever the hell that is). It sort of tastes like a Chard, but like you soaked potpourri in Chard. Very flowery and I hate it. I pour the rest of mine out. Virginia opines that adding cracker and brie to the mix makes it “not good”, as though it were ever good. With this last one, votes begin to change. Mine stay as is.

Votes are in!

We all revisit #5 with its nice dry sharpness. And then revisit again. We talk about other things for awhile and work through the cheese and fruit with fresh zeal. The bottles remain in their black bags, wanting nothing more than to be revealed, for the mystery to be uncorked. We eat. And talk.


Eventually, we decide to reveal each bottle, one by one, to see how badly we fared. Here are the results, in the same order (#2, #4, #6, #5, #3, #1):


And, the final sheet with correct answers highlighted:


A sad final result of only four correct picks

I did terribly is the takeaway here. But so did Patrick. Virginia gets second with about 17% correct. Anne is the big winner here, with 100% on the whites and 50% overall. What tastebuds!

Thus concludes this edition of Bougie on a Budget. Until next time!

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