Blind Champagne / Sparkling Wine Tasting Explained

24th February 2023

Blind Champagne Tasting

Tasting and reviewing wine will most times take place without the need of a blind format in that you get to study the label, the colour in the glass, aromas and flavours. All these attributes are what are reviewed thus ultimately allowing for scoring / tasting notes.

Next we approach judging of wines and this will usually require the identity of the wine to be hidden in that the wine judge only scores the wine on the colours, aromas and flavours. As with the Glass of Bubbly Champagne & Sparkling Wine Awards, wines are not served in any classification / style and are random lots – There are other wine awards where they are placed within classifications so you may be tasting just Californian Wines, Old World Wines, Blanc de Blancs, Zero Dosage etc.

We then scale things up to a totally blind format where the identity of the wine is unknown, the wine in the glass is not visible (black glass) so to hide the colour and even the individual reviewing / judges can have a blind fold (eye mask) so to avoid any outside influence. You can go so far as ear plugs / head phones where the table of wine judges start to look like poker players not willing to give away any readable body language – Wine is not meant to be tasted with a poker face for sure!

On most occasions, a blind Champagne tasting will consist of bottles with covers which are usually tight fitting material (I call them socks), cloth / paper bags or even covered in foil, you only get the wine in your glass to study visually, by aromas, by flavours so to identify it and / or score it. Usually wines are poured in front of you though I have been to blind tastings where the wines are poured in a separate room and brought in. On a social occasion I have tasted blindly with an eye mask which I found really intensified your concentration on the wine in your hand and for me, delivered better results on guessing the wine in the glass.Christopher Walkey

Judging Champagne 2018

Champagne Judges at the Glass of Bubbly Awards in London


The set-up required to blind judge Champagne:

A quiet location with no sudden noises or visual interruptions outside that of the judges / waiting staff / moderators.

A constant, comfortable temperature to include air conditioning if required.

Suitable lighting to include allowing natural daylight, though avoiding direct sunlight.

No smells such as cleaning liquids, coffee, food preparations, perfume, aftershave, deodorant, air fresheners.

Clean working table / desk with adequate space to accommodate multiple glasses, a spittoon, paperwork, water supply.

Comfortable chair.

Regular cleaning of glass ware and spittoon.

No engagement with serving staff other than pre-confirmed information such as ‘wine number’ (there should be a room moderator to cover any other questions / issues).

All paperwork / scores to be collected prior to any releasing of information on wines that were judged.

Blind Champagne tasting tools

Blind Champagne tasting tools


When judging wines, the organisers need to give nothing away and they should remember that those judging will be highly knowledgeable on the subject in that even bottle shape / bottle neck area can (accidently of course) indicate to them what wine might be being poured despite it being totally covered. Professional wine judges really take pride in the work they do, they wish to judge each wine without any suspicion to what the wine might be other than what they gather from the glass in front of them. I have judged where each judge sat independently of each other whereas other competitions we scored as a group with open discussions.Christopher Walkey

Each Wine / Champagne / Sparkling Wine competition will have their set format to include judging process which the judge will need to understand and adhere to. Scoring sheets will also be provided or, sometimes, the likes of tablets so to tap in your results. Normally the judge will be required to score on colour of wine along with aromas and flavours, be asked to classify the wine in to a category and score within the set up scale (ie; 1 to 20 or 0 to 100).

To be a wine judge you need to be disciplined in that you can not favour one style over another, all scoring must be fair despite preferences. Ideally scores are not given presuming the identity of a wine.

Christopher Walkey

Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.