Blind vs. sighted tastings
By Melanie, 2 June 2010
Whatidranklastnight.co.za might not have been live for very long, but it seems it is already causing a stir. Neil Pendock noted on his blog Pendock Uncorked that according to my potted CV (here) I will now also be a taster for Platter’s which operates sighted, in addition to continuing to chair the WINE magazine tasting panel which operates blind (labels out of sight). This caused Mr Pendock to postulate that followers of South African wine can expect “far greater correlation between the tasting assessments of two of the largest players”.
I sincerely hope this is the case but won’t be surprised if it is not. To my mind, blind vs. sighted tastings are not mutually exclusive and both have something to offer when it comes to wine judging: blind tasting deals with the construction of a wine in a mechanical sense (how well put together it is) at a certain point of time while sighted tasting deals with issues of pedigree and long-term potential. See Michael Fridjhon’s well argued article in this regard here.
One further point that I have made before but which bears repeating is that insisting on reliability (in the sense of repeatability of function) is only partially relevant when it comes to wine judging. Just as important is validity in the sense of a tasting coming up with a plausible outcome (whether by acknowledging a “seeded player” or identifying an “emerging talent”). Many dismiss wine competitions as “beauty shows” but to me that’s precisely what they are: Grace Kelly and Sophia Loren are both beautiful and either could have won the pageant on the day.