Is your father a bit of a gourmet? Does he have a passion for wine, beer, cheese, durian or some other specialty? Then gathering a group of like-minded friends and family members for a blind tasting party can be fun and challenging and of course, it also gives him a chance to indulge in his favourite food or drink!
Decide on a Tasting Category
First of all, decide on your tasting category. The most oft-used one is wine, but don’t limit yourself to this. In Singapore, a durian tasting party can offer just as many varietals, regions and taste profiles as a wine tasting party.
Blind Your Samples
The first step you need to take is to “blind” your samples. This simply means that you need to ensure that no-one can tell what they are from the packaging. In the case of wine, this is usually done by wrapping a paper bag around the wine bottle so that only the bottleneck is visible. If you are presenting beer, then covering up the beer bottle or the beer cans with brown paper works well too. For foods such as cheese or durian, presenting a piece on a plain plate will work well too. Make sure that you label each sample so that everyone gets to refer to each one consistently. It is common to select about 6 to 8 samples for a tasting session.
Choose a Contest
Whilst you could go with the traditional “name the wine/cheese/durian/beer” criteria, you can make it less intimidating for guests who are not expert by choosing an alternative type of contest. Some of ideas are: “Odd One Out” or “Price Ladder”.
“Odd One Out” is when all the samples share a common characteristic except for one of them. Guests need to guess what the similar characteristic is and identify the one which they think is the odd one. “Price Ladder” is simpler. Guests need to rank the samples in order of how expensive they think they are.
Prepare a Scorecard
Hand out a standard score card to each guest. Tailor it to the food or drink that you are evaluating. A fairly standard scorecard might cover appearance, aroma and taste. At the end of the scorecard, there should be each taster’s guess of where the sample places in the tasting contest which you have chosen.
Don’t Forget the Sides!
No blind tasting is complete without plenty of sides. These are complementary foods and drinks which allow your tasters to take a break from the intensity of the blind tasting. Prepare finger foods that complement the drink you are sampling, or drinks to wash down the foods you are tasting.
Prizes for the Reveal
Make it fun! At the end, have a grand reveal and give a prize to the person who guessed closest. Then, relax and continue on with the party. After all, by this point you will already have all the ingredients for a great evening together – food, drinks, great company and a party game which everyone could play!