The Label Project - Tasting Wines Blindly

The Label Project – Wines Tasted Blindly!

The last 2 weeks I had been part of an unique project – a global wine adventure, called The Label Project (all about it here). Over 140 bloggers from 12 different countries had been invited to partake in a 2-week journey where each one of us had received three ‘label-less’ wines over the period. What had been our job? Well, blind-tasting these wines to correctly identify the grape varieties as well as the regions the wines originate. Our answers had to be based on a sensory clue (smell, taste and sight) and a regional clue. Tough? Well, I suppose so. But who has ever got any free meal in today’s world, leave alone Wine!

To be honest when I got the first email invite – I thought this was some kind of a spam. ‘In order to deliver your invitation, could you please confirm your physical address location so that we can hand this (your invite) over to you personally and also that you hold a valid current UAE liquor licence.’ A bit of interrogation on my part amongst my fellow bloggers and a delayed response on my part fetched me another mail – ‘Hi Ishita, Have we intrigued you sufficiently to deliver the invitation?‘ Oh yes, you surely have!

Soon I was on my way to collect my invite – a current best-seller whose simple cover doesn’t reveal the promiscuous subject inside. Yes, the idea being that how many times do we judge a bottle of wine by its label and not what is truly inside? Never judge a book by its cover. And never judge a bottle of wine by its label. Profound thought and sound education for sure. But a challenge in real life.

The Label Project - Tasting Wines Blindly

The next few days saw me running to Sarah (The Hedonista) who had been gracious enough to accept the deliveries on behalf of mine – beautiful wooden gift boxes, each containing a wine bottle and various clues to identify the wine! What was the next thing that we did? Gulp down the entire bottle, perhaps? Would have loved doing that, believe me, if only the deliveries would coincide with weekends. But we did celebrate in our own unique way – all the 5 bloggers who have been invited from UAE for this oh-so-awesome project – Sally of My Custard Pie, Francine of Life in the Food Lane, Sandy of Ginger & Scotch and myself would celebrate virtually as we tweeted – Wine Arrived… Opened Wine #1… My chocolates melted so had to eat all of it… All clues point to Shiraz but the taste?… Or perhaps, virtual celebrations are not unique anymore. They are the pattern of the day!

For me, this is perhaps the most fun experiences I’ve ever had after passing out from school. Surfing the internet, getting to know Australia – it’s geography, viticulture, climate and political history while each sip did it’s work. Yes, I did try to put all that I’ve learnt from a Wine-tasting evening previously – the 4 S of Wine-tasting – ‘see, swirl, sniff, and sip’… but all in vain! A simple, casual sip didn’t spark any answer.

But a simple rebuke from my 8-year old Big Z did. ‘Mama this not an exam. Just enjoy your wine!’ Yes, I enjoyed all the 3 bottles of Wine, delivered to me as a sudden surprise. And I enjoyed playing the detective, ticking off the different wines and discovering the Wine Atlas of the World!

And where did I start? Australia. No I am not a wine genius. ‘Manufactured in Australia’ just happened to be printed at the back label. And no, that didn’t make my life easy. There was still a lot of studying to do. And a lot of wine to taste!

Wine #1

Wine #1 came with three vials of aroma and region clues about its origins –

Region clues:
– It lies between two other major and much older wine regions
– Its macroclimate is cool but within the region there are many varied topographies, soils and mesoclimates
– It is famous for its fruit produce including cherries, pears and apples

Varietal Clues
– Hints of honeydew melon aromas
– A palate of lemon pith
– Underlying creamy texture

Wine #2

The Chocolates that came along with Wine #2 disappeared in minutes. And no, I haven’t chilled my red wine – it’s sweating because I took the glass outside (40degrees C) from the air-conditioned interiors to the balcony to shoot it in natural light!

Region clues:
– Altitude of the region ranges from around 250-400 m (approx 800-1300 feet) above sea level
– In general, winters are cool and wet but summer days are warm, dry and sunny here
– It is very popular with wine tourists

Varietal clues:
– Spicy aroma of rich fruit cake
– Rich berry flavours with a hint of dark chocolate
– Velvety texture

Wine #3

Wine #3 came with some pictorial clues, the study of which made me turn into a geologist, specialising in the study of Australian soils. At this moment I can tell you the composition of soil from each region and I can tell you all type of climatic conditions that could lead to a fabulous grape season or a disastrous one – in Australia!

Region Clues:
– The terrain is completely flat
– Its subsoil is an ancient marine bed
– It has a maritime influenced climate

Varietal tasting note clues :
– Leafy aromas with a hint of mint
– Ripe cassis flavours
– A firm structure with good persistence on the palate


Ultimately The Labels Are Revealed!

At last, the wine label behind The Label Project was revealed yesterday. Yes, it’s Jacob’s Creek. Though I hadn’t figured out that the wine bottles were from JC, I had been roaming in their websites to study about the regions and the different varieties of grapes that grow there and the popular wines that use these grapes.

Yes, all my 6 answers (a regional clue and a varietal clue for each bottle) have been correct.

The answers to the grape variety and region are –
Wine #1 – Chardonnay from the Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Wine #2 –  Shiraz from the Barossa Valley, South Australia
Wine #3 – Cabernet Sauvignon from Coonawarra, South Australia

“The Label Project is a once-off never-to-be-repeated exclusive global wine adventure being run during September 2012, and is open only to bloggers who have been invited to join.  Over 140 selected bloggers from 12 different countries have been invited to embark on this unique wine journey at the same time.”

And yes, another final delivery of a bigger box containing 3 bottles of Jacob’s Creek Reserves have arrived. Hoping that this continues for ever. Whether I am selected finally for a wine-tasting trip to their winery remains to be seen. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. But what makes me happy is the fact that I have been chosen amongst many bloggers for this unique marketing and branding project which, in my heart will remain for ever as The Label Project, even when the labels have been revealed. And for my taste buds it will remain known as a historical period when Wine flowed freely!

Unblogging it all… Ishita

Disclaimer: I hope you enjoy reading the posts with lot of visuals. While you enjoy seeing them please don’t use them. You can see more pictures of my travel and food journey here.


You may enjoy reading the following:

Asado Wine Club, The Palace Hotel, Dubai – An Evening of Wine Tasting!
In The Land of Paella – Valencia, Spain
Deep-Sea Fishing & Fresh Fish Barbeque – Persian Gulf


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