Tomorrow, Thursday June 21st from 730pm on Kansas City Public Television (KCPT) it’s the battle of the grape. Two blind tastings, one for reds and another for whites, will determine if wines from Missouri and Kansas can compare with the best wine making regions in the world. The show also tackles the issue of why most restaurants in Kansas City (and in cities all over MO and KS) are happy to serve local food, but don’t serve local wines. The blind tastings will help determine if the preference for Californian, French and other international wines is actually fair and based on quality and customer preferences, or just a result of inertia, snobbery, ignorance – or all three.
Surely if French and Californian wines are so good and the local wines so poor, the blind tasters will prefer those? The restaurants will be proved right afterall…but if MO and KS wines do well hopefully it will be a small wake-up call to consumers and restaurants alike.
So tune in to KCPT on tomorrow! Or come to Belvoir Winery in Liberty where we’ll be watching the show.
I tried hard to make this a fair contest. The five reds and five whites in each tasting cost between $12 and $20 retail, except for a ‘wild card’ that could cost anything. Two of the wines in each red or white tasting are from MO or KS, one is from California, one from France and one that ‘wild card’ that could be from anywhere.
The basis of prejudice against MO and KS wines is often based on their tendency to be sweet. People seem to think that sweet is all the Midwest does well and discount the quality dry stuff that has emerged and is emerging all over the place. This tasting will be meeting Californian and French wines on their own terms: all the reds competing are dry and all the whites are dry or semi-dry.
I was also conscious of how the order in which the bottles would be tasted could confer an advantage. It is probably not ideal to be the first wine tasted, or the last. The order of the tasting was determined by me reaching blindly into a case where I’d place the bottles and pulling the bottles out, lottery style, one by one.
The bottles were placed in white paper bags and each labelled with a letter – A to E.
The 5 blind tasters were chosen to be widely representative of wine lovers and to be fun – there’s a mixture of celebrities (Eddie Kennison and Stretch), wine and food experts (Stephen Molloy and Katie Van Luchene) and Lucinda, a young woman and regular customer at Belvoir winery, chosen to represent ‘normal’ people (possibly like you?). They all like a wide range of wines. Overseeing them and to offer his analysis, wine brain and expert, Doug Frost.
The blind tasters are not comparing the wines to each other, they’re just making a very simple judgement: how much do they like each wine and why? In other words, how does the wine they’re blind tasting compare to their idea of the perfect white or red? They mark each one with 1 to 5 points, 1 being ‘not to my taste or ‘I don’t like it’, up to 5, which means ‘excellent ‘ or ‘I love it’.
So tune in! Will this be a humiliation for the Midwest wine industry? Or will this be a case of Bottle Shock and a humbling experience for French and California? Find out on Thursday at 730pm…