View Full Version : Wine Judging Class in Grand Rapids, MI

David Baldwin
05-05-2005, 01:03 PM
This evening a local micro-winery Cascade Winery is hosting a class for their home vintners on wine tasting and judging.

I've been asked to bring a sample of my mead.

I'll be bringing two bottles of "my firstborn" (see the brewlog). It is not yet a year old, but has aged very nicely so far. If I have time to bottle it before I go, I may add a bottle of Joe's Ancient Orange/Spice mead.

This should be fun, and a great opportunity to learn more about wine tasting from a professional.

I'll let you all know how it turns out.


05-05-2005, 02:55 PM
Please take lots of notes and share :)

David Baldwin
05-06-2005, 08:23 AM
What an evening! I want to thank all of you for your input and encouragement along the way. Thanks also to Vicky for giving us this forum - a wonderful place to learn and share.

Unfortunately I've never been much for taking notes and paying attention at the same time (college was all kinds of fun...another story) so I'll have to run from memory.

I did take notes on the scoring sheet, and that is at home. I'll add some notes from that later.

At the beginning we went around the room introducing ourselves and giving a bit of our background and sharing with the group how long we'd been making wines.

My introduction went something like: "Hi, I'm Dave, and I am a mead maker. I pitched my first yeast on July 21, 2004. and that mead is what I have brought for us to taste tonight".

My mead was very well recieved, and I hope that some of the other vintners in the class will at least stop by the forum. There was quite a lot of interest generated by the mead. I believe that most of the people there had never tried mead before last night, and there were lots of questions raised.

I believe my mead was the last to be tasted (before the grand finale of a jalapeno cooking wine). I was a bit disappointed in that as late in the tasting as it was, the mead did not get as in dept an evaluation as I was hoping for.

That said, the bottle was the first to be emptied! I'll call that a sucessful evaluation!

From what I did learn:

1. Color and clarity were good, yet it lacked a brilliance that might come with longer bulk aging. It coated the glass well when swirled, and lots of legs.

2. Aroma. In my opinion its greatest flaw is that the honey is muted by the still lingering "green apple" The oak was subtle with a hint of smokiness.

I did learn that I'd unknowingly put a bourbon toast on the oak that I used. I'd actually taken some aged white oak from my wood shop and toasted it over a charcoal fire.

3. Flavor and Mouthfeel, Drier than most people expected, it retains enough residual sweetness to nicely balance the significant alcohol content (23%). It finishes cleanly on the palate with no significant aftertaste. Mouthfeel was rich and our professional taster described it as "resinous".

This was our instructor's first experience with mead and complimented me on it.
While drier than he expected from honey, the honey aroma, and rich "resinous" mouthfeel left him with no doubt that this was a honey wine.

Having been tasted at the end of the evening, I had lots of time to field questions and there were many many questions asked. One brewer in the group asked me about making beer with honey. I introduced him to the concept of a brackett. He was very interested, and I think my favorite honey supplier has a new customer!

I wish I'd had some cards with this web site to pass around. I'll make note of that and be prepared the next time around. Fortunately Got Milk? is almost always recognezed, so Gotmead.com is easy to remember.

A truly grand evening. My wife enjoyed it more than I think she expected. I predict that she'll be joining me more often in my brew shop.


05-06-2005, 08:40 AM
Sounds like a wonderful time David, and you did a great job with the report of the night I really hope I can attend one in the future, sounds like you learned alot. Thanks Toolbox

05-06-2005, 09:07 AM
Glad everything went well! I'm still kicking myself for not being able to make it. Oh well. Maybe next time.

05-06-2005, 10:29 AM

Sounds like a great evening! One question: do you think they were able to judge your creation accurately, since they were not familiar with mead? I'm rather of the opinion that, while long experience with wine or beer is a help, it can also be a hinderence when mead is judged by the standards of a completely different beverage. Still, it sounds like your mead was very well received, and for that I can only say congrats!


David Baldwin
05-06-2005, 10:47 AM

That is an excellent point. Being at the end of the lineup he didn't give me a terribly detailed evaulation. I'm not sure if that was just because it was getting toward the end of the tasting class, or whether it was because this was his first experience with mead.

The conversation that followed the mead tasting was very interesting to listen to and participate in.

I made sure to point out that I felt that the mead was somewhat flawed by the acetalhyde "green apple" which may yet prove to age out entirely.

One thing I have realized in making 3 gallon batches is that I wind up with a very limited quantity of finished product. I may seriously reconsider moving up to 5+ gallon batches.