This post is NOT sponsored by any of the 4 Lebanese wineries, nor did they know about this experiment ahead of time. This idea is 100% my own. The content is 100% original. The objective is purely for entertainment. I also didn’t participate in the tasting myself, so the results don’t necessarily reflect my personal taste.
Christmas is in exactly 2 weeks! This means loads of lunches, dinners, and parties. So you’ll probably be buying more than one red Lebanese wine bottle for every host. You know the ones, good price, really popular, and usually come with special offers for Christmas. But I can bet that 9 times out of 10, you barely give the taste a thought. What helps you choose the ideal wine bottle is probably reputation.
So I decided to run an experiment: a blind tasting.
Humans are biased; Lebanese people are even more so. Most of you have been drinking the very same wine brand for years, and are fairly convinced it’s the best and everything else pretty much sucks. Even when you try another brand, you don’t really give it a chance, especially if you dislike that brand for some unrelated reason.
That’s why I wanted to remove all biases and see whether people still liked the wine brands they’ve always bought. I was also very curious to see which of these big Lebanese wineries really did have the best table wine. So read on – this will help you choose which wine to buy during this Christmas season!
For the tasting, I bought 4 of the most popular table-top red Lebanese wine bottles available in every supermarket from Chateau Ksara, Chateau Musar, Chateau Fakra, and Chateau Kefraya. They are all sold in the same prices range, LBP 13,500 on average, and made of almost the same grape blend. They also all come in special “coffers” for Christmas. I randomly numbered them in the order I found them on the shelves.
1) Chateau Ksara – Reserve du Couvent 2015 (Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, & Cabernet Franc)
No Holiday offer at the time I bought this (1st week of December)
2) Chateau Musar – Musar Cuvee 2013 (Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, & Cinsault)
The Holiday Offer: Buy 2 bottles and get a wooden cheese board.
3) Chateau Fakra – Pinacle de Fakra 2011 (Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, & Cinsault); Gold selected by Gilbert & Gaillard wine guide
The Holiday Offer: Buy 2 bottles and get the third one.
4) Chateau Kefraya – Les Breteches 2013 (Cinsault); Double Gold selected by China Wine Spirits Awards (CWSA)
The Holiday Offer: Buy 2 bottles and get a half-bottle of Les Breteches White.
On Sunday, December 3rd, Madame Alice Eddé graciously accepted to host my blind tasting at her shop in Byblos old souks during the Alice Eddé Christmas Fair. You’ll want to stop by the shop soon – she has the cutest products all made by Lebanese designers.
How the Experiment Went:
The wines were masked with opaque white papers, with only the numbers visible. The corks were hidden and the foils removed beforehand in order to hide any sign of the brands. A simple table was set up with water crackers available for cleaning the palettes. Then, the blind tasting began.
A total of 57 people participated in the blind wine tasting. Note that they were not wine professionals or connoisseurs. After all, this is the target audience of these specific red Lebanese wines. Every person was offered a shot glass amount of every wine bottle, then asked to vote for their favorite Lebanese wine by putting a token in the jar with the wine bottle’s number.
The order in which I offered the wines for tasting varied. While you may have tried them in 1, 2, 3, 4, someone else tried them in 2, 3, 1, 4, and so on, just to be sure that people still didn’t affect each other by recommending, for instance, “the 2nd wine” they tried to each other *wink*!
My Notes Regarding the Blind Tasting:
First, I was surprised by the turnout. I had only one day to communicate this blind tasting on social media, and yet people were so responsive and excited about the initiative. I just might do it again!
Second, I was entertained by how almost everyone who participated tried to guess what each bottle was. But failed miserably!
Third, I noticed how almost everyone who tried to guess was convinced that the wine they liked must be the wine they always buy. They were then shocked to realize that they didn’t like their preferred wine when they tried it blinded. They were even more shocked when they liked a wine they so stubbornly didn’t like before.
Fourth, many people disliked a wine for the exact same reason many others liked it. This goes to show that it’s all a matter of taste, which varies immensely from one to the other.
The Winner of the Experiment
I expected the results to be way more competitive, but they weren’t. Two wines tied for the same number of votes and the others were off by a few votes only. One recurrent comment was how similar all four of these wines tasted, and that clearly explains the results. However, despite the close call one of them did come in first.
The winner of this blind tasting was…
Reserve du Couvent 2015 by Chateau Ksara
Congrats, you came in first among the people!
To end, I’m pretty sure more than half of the participants disagree with these results – after all, it was a very close call with the other 3 – but I really hope you enjoyed this blind tasting and took it for the entertaining experiment that it was. Every person has a different preference (and different taste buds!) So this isn’t to pit these wineries against each other, nor is it to hail a champion among brands that have been in the market for ages. The core message is simply to drink wine for the joy of it, forget your bias, and don’t be afraid to open your mind to new flavors!
In case any of you have thoughts regarding the experiment, or if you’d like to collaborate with me just leave a comment below or drop me an email. Also, don’t forget to follow me over on Facebook and Instagram to stay up-to-date with my latest blog posts.
See you soon with another glass of red!