A few weeks ago, I received a mysterious package in the mail containing a copy of Catcher in the Rye and a letter from an unknown source, inviting me to participate in The Label Project.
What is The Label Project?
Well, the letter explained that participants would receive three bottles of wine, labels removed, along with clues about grape variety and region. The goal was to look beyond the label and discover what was really inside the bottle through those clues and discussion. Once the project deadline arrived, the wines would be revealed, and participants would receive three labeled bottles to enjoy.
Three wines, all labeled with “The Label Project” arrived at our doorstep, packaged in lovely wooden crates and accompanied by clue cards and other fun hints to get us smelling, tasting, and talking about the mystery wines. I should note that the backs of each bottle did say “Produce of Australia” which helped us to narrow things down just a wee bit from, oh, the rest of the world.
I am not a wine expert by any means, but I find blind tasting to be a lot of fun, and I tend to do quite well at it. I passed the blind tasting portion of the exams when I was in the wine program at Boston University and if it wasn’t so expensive, I would love to take the next level, which is all blind tasting!
We sat down with a notebook for writing down our guesses and got started with the tasting. The first wine came with three aromas which we sniffed in order. Aroma #1 was lemony, aroma #2 was melony, and aroma #3 was overwhelmingly buttery, 100% movie popcorn. Based on the Burgundy bottle it was in, the aroma clues, and the region clues, I guessed it was a Chardonnay from Adelaide Hills.
The second wine, a red, came with chocolate, which, as you can see above, spells out The Label Project. We each had a piece while tasting the wine, whose variety clues noted that the wine had a spicy aroma of rich fruit cake and rich berry flavors with a hint of dark chocolate.
I instantly guessed Shiraz, based on that spice on the nose, but I had a hard time with the region. Since my in-laws have visited and love Coonawarra many times, I guessed that region.
The third wine, also a red, came with a few image clues, including a photo of red soil. This sparked my memory and got me thinking the region was Coonawarra. The wine itself was very spicy to me, and for a second I wondered if both the second and third wines were both Shiraz. In the end, I decided it was a Cabernet Sauvignon from Coonawarra.
Once we had made our guesses, it was time for the big reveal. All of the wines were from the Jacobs Creek Reserve line.
Wine #1 – Chardonnay from the Adelaide Hills – correct!
Wine #2 – Shiraz from Barossa – half correct!
Wine #3 – Cabernet Sauvignon from Coonawarra – despite my back and forth on this one, I ended up being correct!
I admittedly don’t know much about Australian wines at all, but it was lots of fun trying to remember what I learned in class almost two years ago.
Wine for me is something I tend to learn about in context, by tasting, having casual conversation, coming across articles and blog posts, through wine dinners, and through travel. Since a lot of the experience I have in this area is US-based, for now, I would love to do a US Label Project!
How do you think you would do as a participant in The Label Project? Have you ever done a blind tasting?