|We decided on a panel of seven people to be as representative as possible, taking age, wine knowledge, wine preferences, average spend and profession into consideration. All wines are selected by Jenny, our editor, and presented to our panel to taste blind. They are not asked to guess what’s in the glass but to evaluate it against certain criteria. We always have two bottles of each wine at a tasting. If the panel dislikes the first, we will always give them the second to taste too to give the wine the benefit of the doubt.
Our panel has to:
- Give the wine a score out of 10. No half points are allowed. If a half point is called for, the wine is scored up.
- Comment. We are not looking for comments such as, "It smells of apples." This is very subjective. We want to know how the wine made the taster feel, what memories it evoked and what it can be likened to.
- Recommend food pairings. This needs to be really specific, not because we want to be prescriptive about what to eat with the wine but because a vivid food description will provide further insight into what the wine is like.
- Suggest drinking occasions. Knowing when a taster would enjoy a wine is very important as it helps create an impression of the wine. For example, two wines can have the same score but a taster can recommend one for a romantic dinner and the other for a braai before a rugby match. Both wines therefore are equally good but have different places in our lives.
- Name their price. Tasters are asked what they would pay for a wine without knowing what it is. This gives a good indication of value. If they think a wine should cost R100 and it, in reality, only costs R50 it would be a great value wine. If it’s the converse, the wine does not offer value.
One of our golden rules is: we never slate a wine. If one taster likes a wine while the other six don't, we will say so. If all seven disliked the same wine, we will remove it from the tasting and simply not mention it. However, we will taste the next year's vintage to see if it has improved.