Tasting: A brown bag wine night

This weekend my husband and I went to a wine tasting party – a wine tasting party with rules. Now, I’m good with rules, so I was kind of excited to get the invite from our friends, Traci and Dirk. Each couple was asked to bring one bottle of Washington red wine that’s less than $35 and five $1 bills. Sounds intriguing, right?

After we arrived we added our bottle to the lineup (we were a little chagrined to find out, upon further inspection, that our “Zerba” was made with Washington grapes, but not made in Washington. We hoped to squeak by on a technicality). The hosts opened each delivery and promptly wrapped them in brown bags with ribbon securing the necks. Each bottle was labeled with a number – from 1 to 8 -¬† and placed on the dining room table next to a bag with the same number.

The music on, each taster grabbed his or her own “scorecard” and the swirling began.

While some enjoyed number 5′s “pepper,” others marked it down with a “boo!” Some tasters loved number 3′s fruitiness, and others thought it was just too much. It was interesting to taste the wine away from the bottle – and the label. Many in the group got pretty serious about it, taking the wine into the kitchen where the lighting was better to judge color, and sticking their noses into the glass to detect nuance before taking a sip.

When a decision was made, the couple/taster put one, some or all of the dollar bills into the bag that corresponded with the wine(s) that scored highest.

In the end, Gilbert Cellars’¬†Mourvedre won the most votes, and ironically enough, that was a wild card entry from the hosts to balance the Zerba syrah that we brought, so the proceeds were split among the partygoers.¬† Also tops in judging were a 14 Hands Hot to Trot (surprise!) and a Ruta 22 malbec from Argentina (someone else didn’t pay attention to the rules!).

Josh, one of the night’s tasters, was so in tune with the winning wine that he actually could tell it was from Gilbert. That’s talent! I think I have a long way to go…

Some of the contenders...

Brown bags hide identities.

The table was decked out - tasty and fun appetizers.

This is Tressa and Addy - two intrepid tasters.

I don't think I had tried triple creme brie before ... it's amazing. Like butter. There was also a bowl of meatballs made with a sauce of wine and barbecue sauce that were delicious.

My husband Ryan, Traci, the hostess and Kelly, Jill's sister.

A yummy bowl of strawberries.

Traci, Ryan J. and Dirk, the host.

Ryan, Wes, Dirk and the group share laughs. I think we'll call that beer a "palette cleanser."

Dirk took the scoring very seriously.

These were not almonds, but so good. I think they were berries covered in chocolate.

Derek, left, and Becky, right, talk with Karlen, who's pursuing a wine degree in college. He was a good judge, obviously.

Addy with husband Josh, who was a spot on taster of the winning wine.

Some of the apres-tasting wines. We left before the Leonetti was opened. Bummer.

...and the winner was...Gilbert Cellars!