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Blind Tasting League in MountainX

Posted on  by Kay West
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BAG MAN: Metro Wines' Andy Hale challenges wine lovers to participate in the monthly blind tastings he will conduct on Facebook Live. The mystery wines — one red, one white — are available at the shop for pre-purchase, securely wrapped. Photo courtesy Metro Wines

When Andy Hale was a restaurant sommelier studying for rigorous exams to achieve higher certifications, he and a buddy doing the same honed their skills by staging blind tastings after work. “We would pop the cork on a couple of bottles and challenge each other to figure out what they were,” he says. “If we got it right, we’d drink the rest of the bottle to celebrate. If we got it wrong, we’d drink the rest of the bottle to drown our shame. It was fun either way.”

Hale, now the director of the Asheville School of Wine at Metro Wines, thought people interested in wine would enjoy what he calls an “educational drinking game,” so he founded the Blind Tasting League. Before COVID-19, as many as 30 people gathered monthly in the classroom at Metro Wines to sniff, eyeball and taste their way through two unknown whites and two reds to deduce climate, grape variety or blend and whether they were Old World or New World, then reach conclusions and make a guess.

On Wednesday, Aug. 19, at 5:30 p.m., Hale takes the BTL where no tasting has gone before, making his Facebook Live debut with a guided event where participants can play aspiring sommelier in the privacy of their own homes. Two wines — one red, one white — will be available for tasters to buy in advance at Metro Wines, wrapped in  bags, no peeking. Accompanying printed materials can be downloaded from the BTL blog (avl.mx/7×5), site of an amusing introductory video by Hale. “We try hard to be anti-wine-snob,” he says reassuringly.

The free virtual tastings (the wines cost about $20 each) require no RSVP and will be held the third Wednesday of each month.

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