Wine Unveiled: Weekly Blind Tastings

Looking to improve your knowledge of wine and meet other wine aficionados in Miami?  Then keep your Monday evenings or Tuesday afternoons open for blind tastings at The Wine Shoppe on South Red Road.

blind tastingHosted by owner Ozzy Riverol, the blind tastings are led by sommeliers Tim Knapp and Scott Carter who created Unveiling Wine to share their passion and knowledge.

Tim and Scott launched the weekly Tuesday blind tastings in the spring and recently added a second blind tasting on Mondays at 6:30pm.  The cost of the wines is split by the people who attend and will never exceed $15 — the larger the group, the better and more expensive wines you’ll get to taste.

The tastings are ideal for both the novice and the expert.  If you’ve never gone through a blind tasting before, it’s a great way to understand how to describe a wine.  You’ll learn the different flavors and characteristics of a varietal, which will help you when selecting a wine from a restaurant’s menu or buying bottles to drink at home.  If you’re more experienced, it’s fun to see if you can correctly identify each wine.

The atmosphere for the blind tastings is fun and relaxed; jeans are appropriate attire, as is any range of wine knowledge.  In this informal setting you can test your palate and learn about different varietals without pressure.  And you’ll leave the tasting looking forward to the following week, when you can get together again with your new friends.

I went to my first blind tasting on a Tuesday in May.  Ozzy selected the four wines (two white, two red), so that Tim and Scott could do the blind tasting with the group.  Ozzy was careful to keep the bottles hidden from us, covering up the bottles of white wine in bags and pouring the red wine into decanters.

blind tastingFor the first 15 minutes we evaluated the wine on our own.  Using a tasting grid from the Court of Master Sommeliers as our guide, we wrote down observations about the wine’s aromas, flavors, structure and style, eventually coming to a conclusion about the grape type and where it was from.  At the end of the 15 minutes, we chatted about our findings.  Once we shared our guess about the varietal and country, Ozzy revealed the bottle.

The first wine was a crisp, lemon-lime Albariño from Spain.  The consensus on the second wine was that it was a Chardonnay, though we were split on whether it was old or new world.  Ozzy revealed the bottle to be a 2006 Leese-Fitch Chardonnay from California.  It had great tropical fruit flavors and gentle toast — light and elegant compared to other California Chardonnays that are over-oaked monsters.  Even better was the price tag: $10.  On the red side we tasted a spicy Pinot Noir from California’s Russian River Valley and a full-bodied Vin de Pays d’Oc, a juicy Cabernet from southern France.

wine bottlesWe were having such a good time at the blind tasting that we decided to open a couple more bottles.

If you can’t make the blind tastings, it’s still worth a trip to The Wine Shoppe.  They have a great selection of wines, many of which you won’t find at other wine or grocery stores in Miami.

The Wine Shoppe is located at 1706 South Red Road in Miami.   The blind tastings are held Mondays at 6:30pm and Tuesdays at 11:30am.  Space is limited to 12 people so be sure to RSVP early.  For more information or to RSVP, email Ozzy at or call (305) 267-9921.

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