Education Letters

Exam Day

Blind tasting is a major part of many wine certification tests as well as a fantastic way to learn about wines. Leading up to test day you have crammed theory, quaffed dozens of wines and stressed yourself out to the extreme. You have gotten a good night’s sleep (for the love of Dionysus- take the night before off work so you aren’t up till 3am) and eaten breakfast. Now what?

  •  Neutral White Wine Gargle
    •  Especially useful if you are doing a tasting test later in the day and have eaten/had coffee/brushed your teeth. Basically: if you have tried to have a normal day and all of a sudden realize you need to taste professionally you can do a wine gargle to clean up your palette.
  • Don’t use toothpaste when brushing your teeth
    • Minty fresh feel doesn’t really help your tasting ability. I can’t think of any wines that taste like peppermint
  • Bring Your Own Water
    • We have all had water that just tastes… odd. High mineral levels, chlorine, whatever.  I sat down in Boston for a tasting, poured a big glass of water and almost spit it out at the last class I attended. It just tasted weird. Now I just buy a bottle of water from the store down the street. I have a friend who takes it to an extreme. She checks her bag with a full water bottle of Seattle tap water. Don’t let something so basic mess you over
  • Sip on Something High Acid Before
    • Personally I do this every time. First thing in the morning I have a really hard time determining acid level. Everything feels high acid because I haven’t had any wine yet. So I fix it by giving myself something with zinging acidity before going in to test. It sets my palette’s acid-meter for the day.
  • Skip the Coffee
    • Coffee with all of it’s beautiful caffeinated glory is also full of tannins. Or if it is my coffee full of milk and sweeteners that do coat the tongue throwing my palette off in the extreme. Coffee will jack with your palette. But if your brain simply will not operate with out coffee follow it with lots of water to clean out your mouth.
  • Don’t Smoke
    • Smoking dulls your taste buds. It is also bad for you. We won’t have that conversation here but if you don’t smoke, the day before your test is a terrible time to start. Your palate will hate you. If you do smoke, not smoking if you can manage it will sharpen your senses.
  • Mid Test and Your Sniffer stopped working!
    • It happens. Deep breaths and don’t panic. Sniff your skin – your own body smells neutral to your nose- it can be a really good reset.

Take a deep breath. You are a cork dork and you can do this! Good Luck.