With lots of online wine retailers competing for your attention and hard earned cash, it’s becoming more and more difficult for these folk to stand out from the crowd.
Wine is a very personal purchase and everyone is different. Buying wine outside of supermarkets is less about good (well made and with character) and bad (cheap, nasty, manufactured plonk) wine and more about buying nice wine, i.e. wines you like.
The benefit of a bricks and mortar wine shop is you have a human being to interact with, to discuss what you do and don’t like and to build a relationship with where they hold your hand through a discovery of new and interesting wines.
Honest Grapes (www.honestgrapes.co.uk) have a very interesting way of trying to bridge the gap between human interaction and online retailer - it’s their Taste Lab. The idea is simple but brilliant; a selection of 5 red and 5 white wines that you taste without knowing what they are, make notes on elements that you do / don’t like and they use this information to understand your profile and make wine recommendations. Genius? Quite possibly - we thought we should try it out.
The cost of the kit is £29 which might seem like a lot. When it arrived we quickly realised that this is actually a very well priced investment on helping you understand more about wine and what melts your butter. The kit looks very slick, well packaged in fancy black corrugated cardboard, the wine samples in sophisticated looking viles and the instructions are detailed and clear. You need 5 suitable glasses for each tasting and need to follow the instructions carefully.
Despite the fancy-shmancy packaging, we expected each wine to be an entry level example of the main grape varieties. We were very wrong. Without giving too much away, the wines were top notch, interesting examples that really caused some noodle scratching. We would drink quite a lot of different wines and we found a couple of eye-openers in the selection.
There was plenty of wine to complete the test; in fact, it’s probably worth involving a partner if you share wine purchasing and drinking responsibilities but note that each kit will only create one profile.
We would also recommend doing the whites and reds on 2 separate sittings. The white wines we found the most interesting and diverse. The reds felt a little samey compared to the whites and given the bigger taste profile of reds, this took a little more time and effort so best done in a separate session so not to overload the palate.
At the end of the test, you’re allowed open the secret envelope to see what the names and prices of the wines sampled and to get the ‘expert’ answers to the test questions. We drink a lot of wine but there were definitely some interesting surprises when the results were read. As well as learning a lot, it also made the England v Uruguay rugby match much more interesting.
Results were then entered online and a week later we got a very informative and detailed personal wine profile together with some tempting recommendations which we will definitely be ordering.
Overall, this is a cracking piece of kit for wanna be wine lovers. The best advice we got when we were budding winos was to taste lots of wines blind so as not to have any preconceived ideas before you even pick up the glass. This offering is fun, engaging and educational and is a great tool for understanding why you like what you like and helping you, with guidance from Honest Grapes, find new and exciting wines. The journey begins here!