Taste Test

More than a label


What: Discovering Sherry Tasting

When: 2 pm Sat., Jan. 18

Where: Seifert & Jones Wine Merchants, 19 Prospect St.

Cost: Free


Wednesday, January 15, 2020

“You should never pick a wine because of its label” was one of the first things Ted Seifert told me and my friend Amber when we stopped by Seifert & Jones Wine Merchants on a recent afternoon for the Prospect Street store’s weekly Saturday wine tasting.

When I informed Amber the company known for supporting smaller wine importers and distributors was hosting a free blind taste testing during her visit to Bellingham, she was intrigued.

When we arrived, Seifert—who opened the vino venue with partner Diane “Di” Jones in 2013—was behind a table at the front of the well-lit corner store with five bottles wrapped up in paper bags in front of him. After procuring two glasses, he gave us the aforementioned admonishment about never judging a book by its cover and directed us to pay attention to similarities between the samples. When we’d tried all five, he added, we could head to the counter to see if our guesses about what kind of wine we were drinking were correct.

I soon realized my knowledge of wine is minimal. I am the kind of person who purchases a bottle of vino because its label is eye-catching, and I tend to favor price over quality. Luckily, my visitor was much more in tune with what we were quaffing thanks to a long and varied career in the restaurant industry.

“This tastes like a pinot gris,” she said upon the first sip, but soon changed her answer to sauvignon blanc, perhaps from New Zealand. The second wine, also white—she informed me tastings typically start with them before turning to reds—Amber eventually pegged as a chardonnay.

“No matter how you slice it, for me the only place for chardonnay is for sauteing shrimp,” she said. “I just don’t like it.”

Thanks to its plummy flavor and light body, pinot noir was her guess for the next wine. Number four gave her some pause. Was it a syrah or a merlot? It smelled better than it tasted, she mused, but was perfectly fine.

We both agreed that the final selection, a wine with a deep-red color, was our favorite. 

“It’s smooth and fruity, complex but not too heavy,” Amber said as she perused the shelves for something to take back to the house. “I’m going to say cabernet sauvignon, perhaps from Argentina.”

When we picked up the cheat sheet, we found that Amber had been correct about all the wines but the first one—she’d had it right, but had second-guessed herself. They were all under $20, and their provenance varied from Washington to California to Baja, Mexico.

“That was a lot of fun,” she said when we left the store. “Let’s do it again the next time I’m in town.”

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