How-to: Blind Wine Tasting

Here at Regale, we love parties – Fresco Croppedespecially one with a good icebreaker, and, even better, something involving wine!  Might we suggest incorporating a little blind wine tasting to your family gathering, game night, company team building, or throwing a whole party aimed at getting your guests interacting with a fun blind tasting.  It will get people thinking, comparing notes, and most importantly… talking! If you are looking for a gorgeous locale as a bonus, come visit us for a private event at Regale and have a blind tasting hosted by one of our wine specialists.  It make your party an event to remember and is great to add to an offsite as a team building activity!

A How-To for a Blind Tasting Party:

The Setup

  1. Gather three-five bottles of wine (definitely throw a Regale bottling in there!) – ideally single varietal bottles from different regions and vintages. Alternatively guests can each bring a favorite mystery bottle to share.
  2. Cover and number your bottles – for our team building events at Regale we have snazzy burlap blind tasting bags printed with numbers, but you can use brown paper bags, decanters, or even wrap your bottles in aluminum foil! Remember- a bottle’s shape can be a cue towards the varietal, so keep this in mind when selecting how to disguise the bottle if your guests are wine savvy.
    IMG_1252    Blind Tasting
  3. Provide tasting cards so your guests can take notes and eventually submit their guesses.  Decide if you want to provide a key of the different offerings or leave them completely in the dark.Lepori_0383

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As guests are tasting, you can sound like an expert by reminding them of…

The Three Steps to Blind Tasting:

  1. Consider the appearance for maturity and other cues
  2. Consider the aroma for varietal cues
  3. Consider the mouth for taste, body, finish, overall quality

Step 1: Appearance – Color and Opacity

  • What color is the wine? Whites gain color as they age, reds are most vibrant when young and fade or take on a more brick color with an orange or brown hue.
  • How opaque is the wine? Can you read text through the wine or is it so opaque that light barely comes through it?

Step 2: Aroma – Smell and Physical Indicators

  • 1st Sniff – Does it remind you of varietals you have tasted in the past?
  • Shirt sniffs vs. long draws; swirling for aeration
  • Think about the descriptors:
    • F – Fruit
    • E – Earth
    • W – Wood
  • Physical reaction – Acidity (salivation), tannin (bitterness), alcohol (heat)

Step 3: Mouth – Taste, Texture, and Finish

  • Body – Light-medium, medium-full, full:
    • Pinot Noir                            Light to Medium
    • Sangiovese                           Light to Medium
    • Cabernet Franc                   Medium
    • Barbera                                 Medium
    • Zinfandel                              Medium
    • Merlot                                   Medium to Full
    • Malbec                                  Medium to Full
    • Syrah                                     Medium to Full
    • Petite Sirah                          Full
    • Cabernet Sauvignon          Full
  • Is the wine balanced?
  • Dry, off-dry, or sweet?
  • Alcohol – Prominent (riper/warmer region) or balanced (cooler climate region)
  • Tannins, if any- how heavy?
  • Length – Short, medium, or long (acidity and complexity)

Conclusion

  • What varietal could it be? Use your past tasting experiences and memory.
  •  Are there any varietals you can rule out?
  • The important part is the journey to reach a conclusion – don’t worry too much about the final guess!

The more you practice, the better you get – so cheers to that!

What’s so ‘Super’ about that Tuscan?

It is a matter of much debate who was the first to coin the now trendy moniker, although their origins are mostly attributed to the hallmark wines Tignanello and Sassicaia beginning in 1974, both marketed by Antinori. What is more clear about the history of these lovely wines is that Super Tuscans originated in Italy as wine estates aimed to make higher quality wines that didn’t necessarily fit the strict legal regulations in place for wine production as set out by the DOC.

It is hard to imagine in the relaxed landscape of California where we have some general laws about labeling appellation or varietal but otherwise are relatively free to experiment, blend, and proprietarily name to our delight. In Italy the DOC regulations mandated everything from which varietals could be grown in which regions including the strict percentages in which they must be blended (like the inclusion of white grapes in Tuscan red wine!), to precise accepted levels of alcohol, acidity, and extract as well as establishing viticultural regulations such as restrictions on yield and specific winemaking practices. These laws preserved the practices of low quality and high quantity. Wine estates that dared step outside the box were relegated to the lowest generic label of Vino da Tavola (or table wine) that had been historically the mark of bulk swill. These quality wines changed the ideology by wearing Vino da Tavola as a badge of honor, which began a revolution in Tuscan estates. With the goal of creating wines of more depth, intensity and body, estates began the previously unthinkable use of French oak barrels and blending with international varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon.

Regale Winery Super TuscanOur Regale Super Tuscan calls to mind that focus on quality that is present in all Regale Wines, and pays homage to the producers who dared to step outside the expected boundaries of the time. In classic Tignanello style, our Super Tuscan is a blend of predominantly Sangiovese with a splash of Cabernet Sauvignon. While we didn’t trek to Italy, our Super Tuscan grapes were sourced from the Napa Valley on the lower end of the Silverado Trail. With a smoky, earthy nose, ripe cherry and currant on the palate and a rich tannic finish, this wine definitely represents what you would expect from a classic Super Tuscan.

Now that you know a little more about the history of Super Tuscans, come taste at Regale to see just how super a Super Tuscan can be!

Back to our Rootstock: March

Our grape vines have settled in, confident tEstate Chardonnay Vineshat Spring is fully upon us, as they began the process of flowering.  I am sure their roots are thankful for any errant rain storms blowing through the mountains, as their leaves have truly fleshed out, soaking up the sunny days that have been far too ever-present in this multiple year drought.

After budbreak (which was quite early this year itself), the second main stage in a grape vine’s life cycle is flowering, which typically occurs after about a month of vegetative growth.  In this oddly early year, flowering began in our Estate Pinot Noir & Chardonnay vineyards in March.

Flowering VinesDuring flowering, vines develop tight bunches of tiny flowers, with each flower having the potential to form a single grape, together making up a cluster. During the flowering stage, there are a number of things that can damage the tender young shoots of our grape vines, from parasites to weather concerns of frost, wind, or excessive rain.

As the season progresses, the grape flowers will grow, and open allowing for pollination and fertilization to follow, after which the flower transforms into a grape.  Despite the early budbreak and all the concerns that come along with it, this year is still shaping up beautifully!

Back to our Rootstock: January

Although this January has been quite a lovely one here at Regale, with uncharacteristically sunny and clear skies, our Estate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines are fully aware that winter is upon us.  After harvest in the Fall, when temperatures drop and the first frost comes, vines enter into a state of dormancy (or as I like to call it Winterruhe from the German term for “winter rest”).  January is arguably one of the quietest times in the winegrowing year, with few decisions to make as both the vines, and our winemaking team can rest and look forward to the coming growing year.  During this time of dormancy, neither frost nor rain, sleet or snow can bother these normally temperamental plants.   As we look forward to February, we will enter the time when decisions must be made about pruning the now fully dormant vines. But for now we will simply enjoy the beautiful days, crisp air and time off from vineyard management.

January Vines

January Vines Close

The Cabernets

One of the most common questions we hear in the tasting room is about our Regale Napa Valley Cabernet Franc, a wine that spurs much debate with its feminine body, subtle black cherry and tobacco filled out with varietally correct earthy notes. It is a unique grape that many people have not had the pleasure of tasting bottled as a singular varietal.  Given its quiet history in comparison to the better known Cabernet, Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s no surprise that people frequently think Cabernet Franc is either made from Cabernet Sauvignon, or the new addition to the Cabernet world.  In reality, Cabernet Franc has been around for quite some time, playing a supporting role to Cabernet Sauvignon, and predominately used for blending such as in California Meritage blends, like our Ovation, which take their cue from the world-renown Bordeaux blends.

Although Cabernet Franc has in recent times been dwarfed by Cabernet Sauvignon, with its brazen charms and easy growing vines, people are often surprised to find that Cabernet Franc was actually in existence first.  Indeed Cabernet Franc and the classic bright white Sauvignon Blanc bred Cabernet Sauvignon.  You might be tempted to believe that this was the plan all along, but in fact viticulturists believe this was a spontaneous cross of the two varietals – a wonderful act of nature.  This parentage was only confirmed in 1997 by researchers at UC Davis, which leads to further confusion as to how Cabernet Sauvignon ended up with a blend of the two names, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc when in fact no one even suspected the link to Sauvignon Blanc.  A mysterious coincidence indeed.

As lauded wine author and Master of Wine Jancis Robinson writes of Cabernet Franc, it is “subtly fragrant and gently flirtatious rather than massively muscular and tough in youth. Because Cabernet Sauvignon has so much more of everything – body, tannin, alcohol, colour – it is often supposed to be necessarily superior, but I have a very soft spot indeed for its more charming and more aromatic relative, Cabernet Franc.” Here at Regale, we have a soft spot for it as well.

Bottles

What Is Bocce Ball?

what is bocce ball

What is bocce ball you ask? Regale Winery has you covered.

What is bocce ball exactly? Is it bowling without pins? Are the rules similar to other outdoor games, such as shuffleboard and croquet? Everyone playing it always seems to be having such a great time. But what is bocce ball?

Bocce ball is a highly entertaining game that’s played by enthusiasts of all ages. Here at Regale Winery, we have a flat, beautifully raked playing surface compose of tightly packed dirt. Our regulation court is approximately 76 feet long by 10 feet wide. Here’s how our patrons play the game while enjoying the mountainside views and our pristine wines.

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Outdoor Wood Pizza Oven and Wines

Outdoor Wood Pizza Oven

Outdoor wood pizza oven creations and wine are a match made in heaven

There’s nothing quite as enjoyable as sinking your teeth into a warm, doughy, meat-and-vegetable topped piece of pizza. Combine this sensational, mouth-watering morsel with distinctive wines you can’t find anywhere else in the Bay Area and you’ve pretty much died and gone to heaven.

Thankfully you don’t have to visit the afterlife to enjoy a slice fresh out of an outdoor wood pizza oven. Regale Winery not only has pizzas to make any full-blooded Italian smile with satisfaction, but also we possess the wines and the location to make your next event a special one.

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