Put your wine tasting talent to the test for a win a trip to France.

Only a small percentage of the population has a hyper-accurate palate, however, you can develop your wine palate, and now’s the time to do it, in preparation for the South African Wine Tasting Championships (SAWTC).

Convened by “The Flying Sommelier” Jean-Vincent Ridon, the SAWTC offers any wine enthusiast – amateur or professional – the opportunity to put your tasting talent to the test – and this year, visitors to the TOPS at SPAR Wine Show in Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town will have the chance to put themselves in the running to be one of the lucky few who will travel to France to compete in The World Blind Wine Tasting Championships in October 2019.

How to enter the Search for Super Tasters at the TOPS at SPAR Wine Show:

Simply register at the SAWTC stand in either Joburg or Cape Town, before stepping up to taste up to 30 shortlisted wines on show on Thursday, Friday or Saturday sessions.

SAWTC local competitions take place on the Saturday evening in each location where participants will be required to identify six wines "blind” from the shortlisted SAWTC selection.

Winners from Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town will be invited to participate in the national SAWTC final to be staged in Cape Town in late July 2019.  Finalists will be selected to join “Team South Africa” to travel to France to compete in The World Blind Wine Tasting Championships in October 2019. Twenty-eight countries will participate in the world blind tasting at Chateau of Chambord in the Loire Valley.

To book your tickets for the Johannesburg show, click here 

To pre-register your interest in entering the SAWTC at the Johannesburg or Cape Town TOPS at SPAR Wine Shows, click herecomplete the web-form and stand by for more updates!

According to Jean-Vincent Ridon, the key to successful wine tasting is to develop your memory of smells and flavours.

5 smart ways to develop your wine palate:

1. Take notes while tasting

  • Start by describing what the wine looks like under normal lighting,  Pay attention to colour and clarity.
  • Next, make note of the scent. There will be plenty of primary, secondary, and tertiary aromas to look out for.
  • Focus on the texture and acidity and describe how long the taste stays on the palate after the wine has been swallowed.
  • Top it all off by deciding if you actually enjoyed the wine by giving it a score on a 100-point scale.
  • By taking notes, you’ll eventually learn to notice subtle differences between similar wines.

2. Taste with friends

  • Taking notes is important if you want to develop your palate, however, blind tasting parties can go a long way as well.
  • Cover the bottles labels with brown paper bags or aluminium foil.
  • Label each bottle and compare notes and descriptions with the people around you. 

3. Compare 2 wines directly

  • If you want to develop your palate effectively, try buying two different types of wine.
  • Pour a little of each wine into separate glasses and begin tasting, compare and contrast the two wines. 
  • Try to identify any differences and similarities between them.
  • Compare wines from the same region or from two different types of grapes.

4. Perfect your swirling technique

  • Smelling your wine is the key to detecting subtle aromas. 
  • Swirling helps the wine interact with oxygen, unlocking hundreds of aromas. 
  • To swirl, draw circles for a few seconds while gripping the stem of the glass, moving in one direction rather than switching back and forth.

5. Practice often but with moderation

  • Practice every time you get a glass of wine.
  • Instead of swigging down the entire glass, slow down, look on the website to learn more about the wine. 

Final thoughts on developing your wine palate:

Following the steps outlined above will help you refine your palate and learn the nuances of wine. When tasting, avoid wearing fragrance, as it can
mask the aromas. If you become overwhelmed by aromas, take a whiff of your forearm to neutralize them.

The search is on to find wine tasters with natural talent and those who have cultivated their talent – and there’s no criteria for entry. 

Over the last few years, our search uncovered an advocate, a corporate clothing salesperson and Chris Groenewald, a church musician who joined Team South Africa in 2014 is now working as a wine specialist.

* Get 30% discount off a General Access ticket by clicking on the link below and entering the Promo Code:  IOL