Diamond in the Dark: Blind Tasting the Wines of Francis Ford Coppola

Thats me, on the right, with my friend Marcie, awaiting the blind tasting.
Thats me, on the right, with my friend Marcie, awaiting the blind tasting.

Last week, I had the privilege of attending a truly wonderful event: a blind wine tasting. I have done many wine tastings before, some blind (not knowing what the wines are, as they are in bags or otherwise covered), some not, but never have I experienced anything like this. Diamonds in the Dark is a a truly blind tasting of the Francis Ford Coppola Diamond Series wines, in which the participants are blindfolded.

We arrived at Smith and Wollensky’s on South Beach, and were greeted with a can of Sofia blanc de blancs sparkling wine. This is a 6 ounce can of delightfulness.  It comes complete with a little extending straw, and in addition to being adorable, is quite tasty. (Of course, at $16 for a 4 pack, cute doesn’t come cheap). After a short while, we were given blindfolds to put on, and led, single file, arms extended over the person in front’s shoulder, into the event room, where we were seated at round tables (I learned later they were round.)

After introductions of both our hosts and the twenty five-ish participants, we began the tasting. Our host, Hody Wedler, led us through smelling different glasses before we began – one with vanilla, star anise and lemon peel. Then it was time to taste the wines. First, a Sauvignon Blanc (hence the lemon peel aroma), followed by a pinot noir (which was a bit more syrah-like, than pinot-like, but was interesting nonetheless). Next up, a post-red wine, totally warm, Chardonnay, which threw a bunch of people – me included – for a loop. I mean, it was oak-y, and tasted like a Chardonnay, but we were tasting it after a red. It made no sense, and the bit of trickery fooled a bunch of us. The final wine of the night was the Claret, a blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, and it is quite tasty. (The Claret was my favorite of the wines we tasted.)

During the tasting, we each had a cheese plate to taste with the wines. It  is a good thing that none of the cheeses were brie, or some other bit of gooeyness, or it could have been very messy, very quickly.

At the end of the tasting it was revealed to us that our host, Hody, is not only a graduate student, not only obsessed with wine, not only a good host, but he is also blind. Seeing (or not) the tasting through his perspective was quite enlightening. After the tasting, we all enjoyed a three course meal including yummy filets (there were other choices, but really, it is a steakhouse, after all) and Coppola Director’s Cut wines. The whole event was outstanding, and well organized.

This tasting, Diamonds in the Dark, is something that happens on a regular basis at the winery. If you are visiting Sonoma County, I highly recommend visiting the winery and trying the blind tasting. Check their website for availability.