February 22, 2006

The Blind Leading the Blind

I spent the long weekend in Palm Springs to celebrating the end of my single life with my bridesmaids and a few other close friends. It was one of the most wonderful gifts anyone has ever given me -- I felt so loved and happy. We ate good food, drank wine, talked, sat in the hot tub, went for a run, went shopping, and relaxed. Plus, I got gifts! E went to vegas with his guy friends and had a much less relaxing time for his bachelor party -- no gifts (except drinks), little to no sleep, hilarious escapades, and lots of poker -- I was jealous that he got to play poker; He was jealous that I was able to sleep and hang out in a hot tub.

My contribution to the bachelorette weekend was a blind tasting to choose the sparkling to be served at the wedding. I had received a wine tasting kit from my aunt a couple of years prior and this was the perfect opportunity to use it. So, I tossed the kit of papers, a roll of aluminum foil, some tape, and 7 bottles of sparkling wine packed into styrofoam shipping boxes into a checked bag (talk about extra luggage) and was pleasantly surprised when they all made it intact to the fridge in Palm Springs.

6 of the bottles were sparklings for the wedding reception -- a selection of various options all under $10 a bottle. The 7th was the K&L recommendation to my future in-laws for the champagne to be served at the Rehearsal dinner. Real champagne. From champagne. The clerk told me, "Many people think this champagne is a great alternative to Veuve Clicquot because it's a lesser known champagne that is in the same price range. But they are wrong, Veuve wouldn't be caught dead in the same room as this champagne. Veuve just can't compete with the density and complexity of this wine."

I was excited. I love the great widow and her wines. Anything that can make her sit out was most certainly going to be something I enjoyed.

I had originally been worried that with one really good bottle of champagne in the mix someone might be embarrassed if they didn't pick it out (read: me) or worse, that it would be so great that everything else would taste terrible. But, my deliberations to leave it out were squashed by my haste to get the bottles in foil and labeled with numbers -- I forgot to pull it out of the mix, so the tasting was truly blind.

After the pours (into plastic champagne glasses), we all tasted silently, observing the color and bubbles, sniffing, sipping, smelling, and taking notes. We started at the bottom of the barrel (so to speak) by voting on our least favorite. 6 of the 8 of us agreed that #2 was terrible and deserved the lowest ranking. Funky nose, odd lingering taste on the tongue, partially flat. Just terrible. (After the final votes were tallied, it was the only wine that garnered no votes for any top 3 places.)

I peeled back the foil and was shocked to see the maroon lettering on the foil proclaiming the Aspasie Brut Prestige from Ariston Fils. I couldn't believe it. It most likely was a bad bottle because the K&L people have never led me so far astray.

But, when I told E's dad of the results and asked if he'd like me to get them to provide us with another bottle to taste, he responded with the sage advice:

Never buy a pig in a poke. Unless you have time to spare, I'll just go with Veuve.

Right. By that logic, it's a good thing E & I lived together before marriage. Also, it turns out, I don't really have any time to spare (despite what the fact that I'm blogging right now might imply). 17 days and a billion things to do before the wedding.

Oh, and I'll share the fruits of our labor. The clear winner of the value sparkling tasting (favorite of 6 of 8, in the top 3 of everyone, those who ranked it lower tended to like sweeter sparklings--I like 'em more dry): the sparkling selection for the wedding is the Domaine J. Laurens Blanc de Blanc Brut Cremant de Limoux. Creamy nose, clean mineral body with a hint of lemon, and an unbeatable value at $9.99.

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