Last week we had a guest stop in the winery who said his wife and he had been invited to a horizontal wine tasting party. He was nervous about attending because he didn’t know what to expect and was told which wine he had to bring. After reassuring him that a horizontal wine tasting did not include tasting wine while lying down he seemed a little more relaxed but still didn’t understand why the host was telling him which wine to bring.
There are numerous ways to host a wine tasting – a blind tasting where all of the bottles are covered up and guests have to decide what is in the bottle, regional tasting where a variety of wines are sampled from a particular area, a vintage tasting where a variety of wines are sampled from a particular vintage year, or a vertical or horizontal wine tasting.
A vertical wine tasting is one of my favorites, but also one of the hardest tastings to pull together. A vertical tasting is a selection of a particular wine from a particular winery across a number of vintages. For example when we first opened in 2004 we saved a couple of bottles from our 2004 Chambourcin. In 2005 we decided to save a couple of bottles from our 2005 Chambourcin. As the years went on we saved bottles from 2006, 2007 and 2008. To celebrate we hosted a vertical wine tasting that allowed our guests to sample each vintage of Chambourcin. While each wine was made from the same grapes and in the same process the color, flavor and bouquets were quite different based on how wet or sunny the growing season was that year.
A horizontal tasting is a little easier to put together. Each guest is given a grape varietal and a region where they have to purchase that wine. Our winery guest was told to bring a 2014 Riesling from any winery that was within an hour of Lake Erie to the tasting. I walked him through the process where each guest at the party will also have a Riesling that was made close to Lake Erie and he should look for differences between each wine. Some Rieslings will be sweet as areas closer to the lake may have had a longer growing season than wineries farther south since the lake protected the grapes longer. Some Rieslings may have a yellowish color to them based on how the wine was stored and some Rieslings may have a different bouquet depending on the soil where the vines were grown.
Next time you’re getting together with friends I highly suggest doing a horizontal wine tasting – you may be surprised in the differences!
Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville. For more information on the winery, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com.