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!

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Team-Building for a Better Business

Here at Regale we take great pride in our goal of helping corporate clients not only have an amazing time in a gorgeous locale while they are onsite, but also encourage the focus on leaving with a stronger sense of community and pride in their company and team! Our diverse range of team-building activities offer something for everyone- from new teams looking for an icebreaker to competitive coworkers looking for bragging rights.

Aroma Discovery

Aroma Discovery: Discover aromas in our Regale wines, learning to describe wine as the winemaker does.  Learn how to explain what you are smelling in the wine by identifying real-life aromas of fruits, flowers and other materials in comparison with our Regale bottlings.

Blind Tasting in the Gardens

Blind Tasting: Test your knowledge of different varietals and growing regions under the guidance of one of our wine specialists. Work together in small groups or individually to identify the mystery wines using three basic senses – taste, smell, and sight.  Each member of the winning team will receive a member area tasting pass for two!

 

Cake Off Decorating Competition: Receive a primer in the art of cake decorating, and then let the creative juices and icing flow as teams work together to design and decorate the best cake possible using a variety of freshly baked cakes, sprays, icings, and cake décor. You will be judged, but everyone wins when you dig into your sweet creations!

Successful Saber
Champagne Sabering: Learn a new a party trick from Regale’s seasoned wine professionals- how to extravagantly open a bottle of sparkling wine using a Champagne Saber, in our case a blunt designer version specially crafted for popping corks in style. The saber is slid along the body of the bottle to break the entire neck away from the bottle, leaving only the base of the bottle open and ready to enjoy.  Your guests can watch and learn, or join in on the fun as they don safety googles, gloves, and a brave face!

 

Cork Engineering: In this high tech world get back to basics with this low tech form of fun!  Teams will be given a set supply of corks and rubber bands and will set out to build the tallest cork tower possible.

Cork TowerCork Engineeringteam 5

 

 

 

 

 

Wood-Fired Pizza Making Competition: Put your culinary creativity to the test with this team building activity facilitated by our wood-fired pizza specialists.  Teams will be assembled and set at stations with a variety of toppings and sauces to construct what you believe to be the best pizza.

Pizza Making Dough & Sauces

Finished Pizza CompetitionPizza Ingredients

 


 

 

 

 

Giant Jenga

 

Sports Package: Your guests can entertain themselves with a variety of different physical activities, with an in-house bocce ball court, badminton court, ping pong table, cornhole, horseshoe, and giant jenga you can even set up a tournament for your guests to throw down a little healthy competition amongst each other!

Our rainy day back-up option includes an indoor set up of ping pong, cornhole, horseshoe, giant jenga and an assortment of classic games such as chess, dominos, backgammon, dice, playing cards & poker chips.

Ping PongCornhole 1

 

 

 

 

 

Jeopardy in the Barrel Room
Wine 101 with Wine Jeopardy: Learn the basic fundamentals of wine tasting from a Regale wine specialist.  You’ll be taught a basic understanding of wine terminology, where wine comes from, and how to taste.  Then test your listening skills with a wine focused rendition of America’s favorite quiz show.

 Wine Blending In Progress

Wine Blending: Try your hand as a winemaker for a day. Work in teams to develop the winning Bordeaux style blend from traditional varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Use beakers and graduated cylinders to measure the components of your concoction, tasting the myriad options as you work.

 

 

Wine Flight, Missing Sight Scavenger Hunt: Sighted leaders must coach and anticipate the needs of their blindfolded cohort as they navigate the Regale gardens and villa in search of tools to open and serve a bottle of wine. Each member of the team will give up their sight, then play the role of leader in this communication-building scavenger hunt.

 

Grape Stomping Platform

Wine Stomping: While learning to stomp wine in the traditional fashion, gain a new appreciation for winemaking and the lengths our ancestors went to in creating this desirable beverage.  Work as a team to stomp your way to victory in a race to produce the most grape juice, using only your bare feet!  Feel the rush of grapes squeezing out from between your toes as you begin to understand this time honored tradition.

 

We also partner with amazing companies to host Casino Nights, Painting Parties, Culinary Chef Competitions and anything else you can dream of!

Casino PartyPaint NitePizza Chef Dan with Hands on Gourmet

 

 

 

All of this, and amazing wine in a gorgeous venue- what more could you ask for?

Weddings at Regale Winery

Here at Regale, we love weddings. Maybe it is just that our events team is made up of a bunch of romantics, but we would be lying if we said that we didn’t tear up during many of the ceremonies, heartfelt toasts, and quiet moments that make up a beautiful wedding day.  One of our favorite photographers, Ben Wild,  just sent us these dreamy photos and we thought it would be a perfect chance to highlight our amazing spaces at Regale. Hope you enjoy!

 Balcony Bride Close

Regale is a truly unique, exclusive venue designed to reflect old world wineries in Italy & France.  Our lovely Italian fountains, ornate gardens, olive orchard & vineyard offer an unforgettable setting for your event.

Regale Facade      Fountain

Formal Gardens

Lush gardens with fountains, an olive orchard, open lawn space and a bocce ball court complete with a view of the mountains is a beautiful outdoor ceremony location.  For your reception following the ceremony, utilize the gardens in conjunction with our outdoor bar and courtyard which includes a covered portico with large granite tasting bar and a neighboring wood-fire pizza oven.

Ceremony Seating: 150+ maximum – Standing Reception: 130+ with limited iron tables seating

Gardens Pano

Bocce Bride

Ceremony Set Pano

Ceremony Reverse

Executive Dining Room/Bride’s Dressing Room

This second-story room in the villa has a working fireplace and an Italian fresco mural as well as its own private bathrooms and bar.  A beautiful space for a pre-dinner reception or a palatial bride’s room.

    Dinner & Meeting Seating: 50 maximum – Standing Reception 100 maximum 

    Executive Dining Room Reception with Doors Executive Dining Room Reception

Bride Behind Bar

Bride Staircase     Bride Window

Veranda

This second-story enclosed veranda overlooks our formal gardens and is accessible via an exterior staircase and elevator or through the executive dining room.  This beautiful space, protected from the elements, is perfect for a reception, small seated dinner, or covered ceremony.

Dinner & Meeting Seating: 70 maximum – Standing Reception: 100 maximum – Ceremony Seating: 100 maximum

      Veranda ReceptionVeranda Balcony Bride

Barrel Room

Our barrel room is complete with cocktail seating and opens into the adjoining tasting room creating the perfect space for dancing after dinner, or can be utilized as a cozy interior space for meetings or dining in case of inclement weather.

Standing Reception/Dancing: 140+ maximum – Dinner Seating: 130 maximum

Barrel Room Corner   Barrel Room Head Table

Barrel Room Pano

Vineyard Patio

Our outdoor patio is surrounded by Chardonnay vines and complete with market lights, private bathrooms and a fountain. The vineyard patio is a romantic setting for an outdoor dining experience.

Dinner Seating: 140 maximum – Standing Reception: 140+ maximum – Ceremony Seating: 100 maximum

Vineyard Bride

Vineyard Patio BarnVineyard Patio Closeup Flowers

Vineyard Patio Sweetheart

    Mrs. Chair Vineyard Patio  Bridal Rose Arch

Photos by B. Wild Photography
Rentals by Williams Party Rentals

 

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

Bay Area Winery Venues For Private Parties

Venues For Private Parties
Thinking about venues for private parties? Let the Santa Cruz Mountains be your host.

Are you currently searching for Bay Area venues for private parties and special events? If so then you might be reading up on locations in San Francisco and further north in Wine Country.

What you’re going to learn today, however, is that winery venues for private parties are located closer than you might think. Regale Winery sits inside the gorgeous Santa Cruz Mountains, and yet it’s only a 10-minute drive from downtown Los Gatos that doesn’t feature windy roads in order to get there. It’s the perfect location for your next big event, including wedding ceremonies, birthdays, anniversaries, corporate parties, and more.

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