The Art of Blind Wine Tasting

Eyes down. In front of you are six different glasses of white wine, each poured into an International Standard tasting glass. It’s your job to identify the country of origin, region, sub region, year the wine was made and the main grape variety. Do you think you can do it? After the whites come the reds, same drill. Come on, how hard can it be?

Welcome to the niche and fiercely competitive world of blind wine tasting. Believe it or not there are wine lovers out there who train for this sort of day. Who spend hours, weeks and months head down sniffing, swirling and spitting their way through the world’s myriad wine styles. Honing their taste buds and olfactory skills so when it comes to the final test they can correctly identify the wine style, country of origin and year.

If you think the Varsity Boat Race along the Thames is competitive you should try attending the Oxford v Cambridge blind wine tasting competition, held every year since 1953 at the Oxford and Cambridge Club on Pall Mall. Judged by our Club President Hugh Johnson. This year Cambridge took the Cup after a run of four defeats in what was described as a fiercely competitive competition.

Even though I have been tasting wine professionally for more than two decades I still find it the most terrifying and humbling experience

My roots in this amateur pursuit lay north of the Border. In 1999 I set up the first Edinburgh v St Andrews fixture, which is now held every year in the New Club on Princes Street. Back in 1999, when I was a recent past President of the Edinburgh University Wine Society, the fixture went down to the wire with St Andrews winning by just one point! Since then Edinburgh has been on a tremendous run, winning a slew of victories and distinguishing themselves as some of the best blind tasters in the academic world.

Last year not only did Edinburgh University’s Wine Society beat St Andrews, they went on to compete in and win the prestigious Left Bank Bordeaux Cup in France where they beat, among others, Yale Law School, Harvard, Oxford and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. A significant achievement by any measure. As Alex Wendelken-Dickson, who competed for Edinburgh says: ‘We were the first Scottish team to ever qualify for the final and the first to win the final so it was a huge achievement for us.’

Too right. I judge in the Edinburgh v St Andrews fixture every year and we taste the wines blind with the teams. Even though I have been tasting wine professionally for more than two decades I still find it the most terrifying and humbling experience any wine writer can put themselves through. Get it right. Well, that’s your job. Get it wrong? Well, it’s obvious he doesn’t know what he is talking about isn’t it? It’s good practice and over the years I have had some spectacular failures! But also some surprising successes. One involving a 19th century Margaux served over lunch in Champagne and the other a Right Bank Claret put in front of me in the cellars of a vineyard in Argentina.

This year, in what I thought was a particularly tough line up of wines including a Grüner Veltliner from Austria, a Pinot Gris from Alsace and a Barbera from Italy Edinburgh once again emerged victorious. Team Captain Alex Wendelken-Dickson said they had a little help from The Sunday Times Wine Club, using more than 65 different Club wines for their blind wine tasting practice with favourites being Dark Corner Durif Shiraz from Australia, 2010 Château Pericou from Bordeaux and Groote Kapp Cabernet Sauvignon from the Western Cape.

How did I get on? Well I’m glad to say it was a vintage year in that in terms of country of origin, region and grape variety I managed to get more than half of the wines. Some great successes but also some failures. I take it in the spirit of the late Harry Waugh, the charming and modest wine merchant who set up the first Oxford v Cambridge fixture. When asked whether he had ever confused a Bordeaux with a Burgundy he replied: ‘not since lunch.’

October Instagram giveaway

Prize Draw and Competition Terms and Conditions

Unless otherwise stated, the prize draw or competition is run by The Sunday Times Wine Club, operated by Direct Wines Limited of One Waterside Drive, Arlington Business Park, Theale, Berkshire, RG7 4SW (the “Promoter”).

The prize draw or competition is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram.

The prize

The prize is one 12-bottle Champions & Challengers Black Reds  (free mystery magnum not included) case of wine (a ‘Promotion’).

All prizes are non-transferable, non-refundable, non-negotiable and cash alternatives are not available.

The Promoter reserves the right at all times to substitute any element of the Promotion (including replacing any prize with an alternative) as necessary due to circumstances outside its reasonable control.

Eligibility

Entrants must be aged 18 or above at the time of entry and must have an address in England, Scotland or Wales to which the prize can be delivered. No Promotion is open to any employees of the Promoter or their families (defined as parents, children, siblings, spouses or life partners), or any person professionally connected with the relevant Promotion. The Promoter reserves the right to verify the eligibility of entrants.

You can enter the Promotion by following our Sunday Times Wine Club Instagram account, liking the Instagram message posted by the Promoter and leaving a comment on the post at any time between 12pm on 8 October 2019 and 12pm on 15 October 2019.

Only one entry per person shall be allowed for each Promotion. Any further entries from persons who have already entered a particular Promotion shall be disqualified.

Winners will be required to submit valid identification before receiving any prize; the Promoter may use the services of an external provider to assist with any age verification. The Promoter reserves the right to invalidate the relevant entry and disqualify the entrant from any Promotion and refuse to award the prize if there are reasonable grounds to believe that there has been a breach of these Terms and Conditions by an entrant.

Duration of Promotion

The closing date of the Promotion is 12pm on 15 October 2019.

The Promoter reserves the right to modify, terminate, suspend or extend any Promotion at any time without prior notice.

Allocation of prize

All qualifying entrants will be placed in the draw. Winners will be drawn after the closing date at random from all valid entries received.

Notification of prize

Winners will be notified by direct message on social media within 72 hours of the relevant draw taking place (i.e. by no later than 18 October 2019). If the Promoter is unable to get hold of the winner by social media, it will attempt to contact the winner by email (where provided).

The Promoter’s decision will be final and no correspondence regarding the prize allocation will be entered into.

Winners will have seven days from the date that the Promoter first notified them to claim their prize. Failure to do so will result in forfeiture of their prize. In case of forfeiture, the Promoter reserves the right to carry out a subsequent draw.

Upon claiming a prize, winners will be required to send the Promoter full details of their postal address to which the prize will be delivered (if not already provided).

We shall only publish messages about the Winner of the prize via our social media accounts with the prior consent of the Winner.

General

The Promoter reserves the right to make any amendment or addition to these Terms and Conditions.

Entries will not be acknowledged and no responsibility can be accepted for entries which are not properly received due to circumstances beyond our control. Proof of entry is not proof of receipt.

Entrants are advised to retain and keep safe these Terms and Conditions. Entry to the Promotion confirms acceptance of these rules as final and legally binding.

The personal information supplied by entrants will be handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

These terms and conditions will be exclusively governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England, unless entrants are resident in Scotland or Northern Ireland, in which case they may choose the law of their place of residence. Entrants irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales, unless they are resident in Scotland or Northern Ireland in which case they may choose the courts of their place of residence.

The Promoter shall not be liable in any way for a) any costs or expenses associated with claiming or redeeming any prize and not specifically included within the prize as stated on each individual Promotion, b) any damages, liability or injury arising out of or in any way connected with the Promotion or the prize other than those costs and expenses specifically stated on each individual Promotion. Nothing in this disclaimer is intended to limit the promoter’s liability for death or personal injury arising out of the Promoter’s negligence.

Sunday Times Wine Club Black Friday Instagram giveaway

Prize Draw and Competition Terms and Conditions

Unless otherwise stated, the prize draw or competition is run by Direct Wines Limited (trading as Laithwaite’s Wine) of One Waterside Drive, Arlington Business Park, Theale, Berkshire, RG7 4SW (the “Promoter”).

The prize draw or competition is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram.

The prize

The prize is one Black Friday Mega Deal case (a ‘Promotion’). 

The winner can choose from either the White Black Friday Mega Deal case (which contains 12-bottles of white wine, one magnum of white wine and 2 tumblers) or the Red Black Friday Mega Deal case (which contains 13-bottles of red wine and 2 tumblers).

The prize is non-transferable, non-refundable, non-negotiable and cash alternatives are not available.

The Promoter reserves the right at all times to substitute any element of the Promotion (including replacing the prize with an alternative) as necessary due to circumstances outside its reasonable control.

Eligibility

Entrants must be aged 18 or above at the time of entry and must have an address in England, Scotland or Wales  to which the prize can be delivered. No Promotion is open to any employees of the Promoter or their families (defined as parents, children, siblings, spouses or life partners), or any person professionally connected with the relevant Promotion. The Promoter reserves the right to verify the eligibility of entrants.

You can enter the Promotion by following our Laithwaite’s Wine Instagram account, liking the Instagram message posted by the Promoter and leaving a comment on the post, at any time between 12pm on Friday 29 November 2019 and 11.59pm on Monday 2 December 2019.

Only one entry per person shall be allowed for each Promotion. Any further entries from persons who have already entered a Promotion shall be disqualified.

The winner will be required to submit valid identification before receiving any prize; the Promoter may use the services of an external provider to assist with any age verification. The Promoter reserves the right to invalidate the relevant entry and disqualify the entrant from any Promotion and refuse to award the prize if there are reasonable grounds to believe that there has been a breach of these Terms and Conditions by an entrant.

Duration of Promotion

The closing date of the Promotion is 11.59pm on Monday 2 December 2019.

The Promoter reserves the right to modify, terminate, suspend or extend any Promotion at any time without prior notice.

Allocation of prize

All qualifying entrants will be placed in the draw. Winners will be drawn after the closing date at random from all valid entries received.

Notification of prize

Winners will be notified by direct message on social media within 72 hours of the relevant draw taking place (i.e. by no later than Thursday 5 December 2019). If the Promoter is unable to get hold of the winner by social media, it will attempt to contact the winner by email (where provided).

The Promoter’s decision will be final and no correspondence regarding the prize allocation will be entered into.

Winners will have seven days from the date that the Promoter first notified them to claim their prize. Failure to do so will result in forfeiture of their prize. In case of forfeiture, the Promoter reserves the right to carry out a subsequent draw.

Upon claiming a prize, the winner will be required to send the Promoter full details of their postal address to which the prize will be delivered (if not already provided).

Publication of winner’s name and county

The Advertising Standards Agency requires us to publish the name and county of the winner.  However, the winner has the right to request that we do not publish this information, or that we publish less specific information about him or her.  You can let us know by contacting us via our social media account or by contacting our data protection officer at dpo@laithwaites.co.uk.

General

The Promoter reserves the right to make any amendment or addition to these Terms and Conditions.

Entries will not be acknowledged and no responsibility can be accepted for entries which are not properly received due to circumstances beyond our control. Proof of entry is not proof of receipt.

Entrants are advised to retain and keep safe these Terms and Conditions. Entry to the Promotion confirms acceptance of these rules as final and legally binding.

The personal information supplied by entrants will be handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

These terms and conditions will be exclusively governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England, unless entrants are resident in Scotland or Northern Ireland, in which case they may choose the law of their place of residence. Entrants irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales, unless they are resident in Scotland or Northern Ireland in which case they may choose the courts of their place of residence.

The Promoter shall not be liable in any way for a) any costs or expenses associated with claiming or redeeming any prize and not specifically included within the prize as stated on each individual Promotion, b) any damages, liability or injury arising out of or in any way connected with the Promotion or the prize other than those costs and expenses specifically stated on each individual Promotion. Nothing in this disclaimer is intended to limit the promoter’s liability for death or personal injury arising out of the Promoter’s negligence.

Sunday Times Wine Club Black Friday Facebook giveaway

Prize Draw and Competition Terms and Conditions

Unless otherwise stated, the prize draw or competition is run by The Sunday Times Wine Club, operated by Direct Wines Limited of One Waterside Drive, Arlington Business Park, Theale, Berkshire, RG7 4SW (the “Promoter”).

The prize draw or competition is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram.

The prize

The prize is one Black Friday Mega Deal case (a ‘Promotion’). 

The winner can choose from either the White Black Friday Mega Deal case (which contains 12-bottles of white wine, one magnum of white wine and 2 tumblers) or the Red Black Friday Mega Deal case (which contains 13-bottles of red wine and 2 tumblers).

The prize is non-transferable, non-refundable, non-negotiable and cash alternatives are not available.

The Promoter reserves the right at all times to substitute any element of the Promotion (including replacing the prize with an alternative) as necessary due to circumstances outside its reasonable control.

Eligibility

Entrants must be aged 18 or above at the time of entry and must have an address in England, Scotland or Wales  to which the prize can be delivered. No Promotion is open to any employees of the Promoter or their families (defined as parents, children, siblings, spouses or life partners), or any person professionally connected with the relevant Promotion. The Promoter reserves the right to verify the eligibility of entrants.

You can enter the Promotion by following our Sunday Times Wine Club Facebook account, liking the Facebook message posted by the Promoter and leaving a comment on the post, at any time between 12pm on Friday 29 November 2019 and 11.59pm on Monday 2 December 2019.

Only one entry per person shall be allowed for each Promotion. Any further entries from persons who have already entered a Promotion shall be disqualified.

The winner will be required to submit valid identification before receiving any prize; the Promoter may use the services of an external provider to assist with any age verification. The Promoter reserves the right to invalidate the relevant entry and disqualify the entrant from any Promotion and refuse to award the prize if there are reasonable grounds to believe that there has been a breach of these Terms and Conditions by an entrant.

Duration of Promotion

The closing date of the Promotion is 11.59pm on Monday 2 December 2019.

The Promoter reserves the right to modify, terminate, suspend or extend any Promotion at any time without prior notice.

Allocation of prize

All qualifying entrants will be placed in the draw. Winners will be drawn after the closing date at random from all valid entries received.

Notification of prize

Winners will be notified by direct message on social media within 72 hours of the relevant draw taking place (i.e. by no later than Thursday 5 December 2019). If the Promoter is unable to get hold of the winner by social media, it will attempt to contact the winner by email (where provided).

The Promoter’s decision will be final and no correspondence regarding the prize allocation will be entered into.

Winners will have seven days from the date that the Promoter first notified them to claim their prize. Failure to do so will result in forfeiture of their prize. In case of forfeiture, the Promoter reserves the right to carry out a subsequent draw.

Upon claiming a prize, the winner will be required to send the Promoter full details of their postal address to which the prize will be delivered (if not already provided).

Publication of winner’s name and county

The Advertising Standards Agency requires us to publish the name and county of the winner.  However, the winner has the right to request that we do not publish this information, or that we publish less specific information about him or her.  You can let us know by contacting us via our social media account or by contacting our data protection officer at dpo@thesundaytimeswineclub.co.uk.

General

The Promoter reserves the right to make any amendment or addition to these Terms and Conditions.

Entries will not be acknowledged and no responsibility can be accepted for entries which are not properly received due to circumstances beyond our control. Proof of entry is not proof of receipt.

Entrants are advised to retain and keep safe these Terms and Conditions. Entry to the Promotion confirms acceptance of these rules as final and legally binding.

The personal information supplied by entrants will be handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

These terms and conditions will be exclusively governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England, unless entrants are resident in Scotland or Northern Ireland, in which case they may choose the law of their place of residence. Entrants irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales, unless they are resident in Scotland or Northern Ireland in which case they may choose the courts of their place of residence.

The Promoter shall not be liable in any way for a) any costs or expenses associated with claiming or redeeming any prize and not specifically included within the prize as stated on each individual Promotion, b) any damages, liability or injury arising out of or in any way connected with the Promotion or the prize other than those costs and expenses specifically stated on each individual Promotion. Nothing in this disclaimer is intended to limit the promoter’s liability for death or personal injury arising out of the Promoter’s negligence.