Chapter 3 of 11 from James Suckling

Tasting Techniques: Conducting a Blind Tasting


James believes that blind tasting can tell you a lot about a wine. Learn how to refine your palate and utilize the 100-point scale to evaluate the quality of a wine.

Topics include: Understanding the 100-Point Rating System • Setting Up a Blind Tasting • Blind Tasting: Wine #1 • Blind Tasting: Wine #2 • Blind Tasting: Wine #3 • Blind Tasting: Wine #4 • Blind Tasting: Wine #5 • Blind Tasting: Wine #6 • Blind Tasting: Wine #7 • Inside a Rating Session With the Critics

James believes that blind tasting can tell you a lot about a wine. Learn how to refine your palate and utilize the 100-point scale to evaluate the quality of a wine.

Topics include: Understanding the 100-Point Rating System • Setting Up a Blind Tasting • Blind Tasting: Wine #1 • Blind Tasting: Wine #2 • Blind Tasting: Wine #3 • Blind Tasting: Wine #4 • Blind Tasting: Wine #5 • Blind Tasting: Wine #6 • Blind Tasting: Wine #7 • Inside a Rating Session With the Critics

James Suckling

James Suckling Teaches Wine Appreciation

Flavor, aroma, and structure—Learn from wine master James Suckling as he teaches you to appreciate the stories in every bottle.

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Discover the story in every bottle

Called one of the “world’s most powerful wine critics,” James Suckling has tasted more than 200,000 wines over the past 40 years. In his MasterClass, James tours legendary Tuscan vineyards and teaches you to explore the stories, history, and people behind every bottle. Deepen your knowledge of the properties in each sip, cultivate your passion, and choose, order, and pair wines with confidence.

Immerse yourself in the vineyards of Tuscany with renowned wine critic James Suckling and deepen your appreciation for the wines of the world.

A downloadable wine guide accompanies the class with lesson recaps, supplemental materials, and a printable worksheet to help you conduct your own tastings.

Upload videos to get feedback from the class. James will also respond to select student questions.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Terminology was de-mystified and the love for wine was shared. Feel more confident in following my taste buds and understanding how there's so much variety within a single type.

Loved James' masterclass. Tasted wines while watching, and had visited Tuscany this summer, so it all resonated with us. Learned a ton, and would love to see the next edition. - Tom and Karen, Burlington, Vermont.

As a wine advisor with a wine company, I loved this course!

This class was a lot of fun. I would love to see more classes like this in the future, about wine, and about the more in-depth elements. Especially loved the visit to Marchesi Antinori!


simon G.

Coming from the coffee industry, I'm here to take some of the methodology from sommeliers in analysing beverages. However I found a systematic lack of structure in the description with often very quick, broad comments and analysis. It could be valuable to start with the fundamentals of tasting (vocabulary, glossary of words, methodology of the analysis etc.) before jumping straight into what feels more like a 'show off' tasting that can be quite intimidating for non experienced tasters.


Great session and quite informative. It is also amazing to have a family relationship with the same passion!!!

Joel H.

This lesson was ok. But perhaps James can explain "how" he's tasting the wine. How he's picking out all the crazy aromas. Leather, chocolate, volcanic rock, etc. How do you taste those. And what is happening with the mouth feel? Is there a special/specific say to "taste" the wine. He seems to have a technique that he doesn't explain. Seriously, it's not enough to hear yourself talk. Explain what you are doing.


I drink wine but know nothing really. Today we happened to shop after I began this class. My husband is all about cheap wine....even I, who knows nothing, shudders at the thought. I bought my first two wines, both with a 95 rating. OMG! There is a apologies to the wine lovers with excellent taste, i simply knew no better. Some say this master class has no value and is a waste of time but if you can teach an old dog that there are indeed new tricks, I’m in. As with the cooking classes, I have found value in every class. It all depends on what you are looking for. Thank you, James Suckling for moving me. Wine doesn’t have to be super expensive but it needs to be more than “meh” in a bottle. If this class isn’t for you then find something that is. I, for one, needed this.

Thomas R.

OK, we did see a pro being very passionate about the wines. So it is not only the numbers it is simply enjoying, loving a wine or also coming across a waste of time. But how can it be compared? How do I compare a SuperTuscan and a state of the art Chilean ensamblaje? I like the 100 point system, to me it makes sense. Did find it before on youtube. However I want to learn the difference it makes for a color to be a 12 or a 14. What makes a wine a 15 here? I hope Masterclass will somehow provide us an answer.

Cameron J.

Ok, for all the ‘haters’ out there, calm yourself down. I’m a Chef and certified sommelier and as I sat down to watch this i was thinking it would be interesting to see how they balance Super basic vs professional - for which target audience. Whilst I didn’t fall in love with JS as a presenter, he’s clearly a legend in the wine business and I think they have managed to strike a reasonable balance given the breadth of their audience. Maybe only 20% of the first few classes gave me anything new BUT if you love wine, and presumably that is why you are watching in the first place, then put down your Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat, open a nice bottle of wine and just listen to what he has to say. Knowledge is power and in life if you learn a little bit every time you watch something new, then you are ahead of the pack. Salut!

Greg S.

This is useless. I don't need to watch a guy tell me what he thinks about wine. This should be about how to set up a tasting. What are you trying to accomplish with a tasting? How do you go about selecting wines for a tasting? What kind of range might you start with and work your way to as you learn more? Watching this dude drink wines and arbitrarily assign a rating to it teaches nothing. This isn't Masterclass quality, it's a YouTube video.

Max M.

I found this tasting enjoyable because I know about wines and really found he has passion the same way I have passion for some of my favorite wines I have tasted. But I do think he really missed a vast amount of explanation. He shows the point system but doesn’t cover what to expect. E.g. what makes an Italian vs a New Zealand Saul Blanc. Also no explanation at all about colour and when brown can be age not oxidation.

Peter T.

Although we are introduced to a scoring system, very little time is dedicated to explaining its elements - what they really mean, why they’re weighted as they are and how judgements are made. Surprisingly total scores are seemingly plucked out of thin air. I expect many of us are still going to be buying relatively cheap wines too and I’d be interested in getting a sense of whether these are 50s or 80s on this scale because apparently we shouldn’t bother with anything under 90! For example with exception of oxydation what counts towards rating colour?

A fellow student

I think it's great we get a list of "good wines" to try and taste, but I think it's equally important to know the 2 bad wines and what exactly they are. We need to get those and try them as well to compare. Hiding what they are and not being exposed to bad wines does a disservice and doesn't really help teach us about wines.


Tasting is a real technique. The obvious things-- you go through a line of questions. What does the color look like? Is it dark because it's a young wine? Does it turn to amber because it's showing some age? And how does it change when it gets really old? Then aromas. You think of things like flowers, fruits, perfumes, soils. But even weird things like-- have you ever heard of wet dog in a phone booth or old baseball glove? Those are descriptors for a fault in a wine, normally from bacterial spoilage in the barrels. And then, of course, you get to the body of the wine-- the texture. How it feels in your mouth-- the mouth feel. And that's about the tannins in a red wine, how it relates to the alcohol, the fruit, the acidity. In white wines, it's about the flavors-- the fruit, the acidity, and even tannins, sometimes, in white wines. And, finally, the end. How does the whole wine finish with you? How do you feel about it? What's the overall quality? All these different factors, all these different evaluations of a wine brings out the total quality of the wine. And that's what I want you to understand, is the quality of the wine that you're drinking. And, sometimes, the bad quality. [PIANO MUSIC] I'm sure most of you know that I use the 100-point system. But what you may not know is that the point system, actually, came from school-- from elementary school, high school. Scores 90 to 100 meant A, 80 to 89 B, 70 to 79 C, and onwards down. It's an easy way for you to understand quality. 90 to 100-- that means an excellent wine. 90 to 94-- I want to drink that glass right away. 95 to 99-- I want to drink the bottle on my own. My wife's out, my friend's out. It's amazing. 100-- I fell in love with the bottle. I smelled the wine, I tasted it. It was emotional. It like touched my soul, my heart. It was something that I'd remember for the rest of my life. And I can remember so many of those 100-point wines. Not that I score a lot of them, maybe three or four, five a year-- young wines. Or I taste the old wines, like a 1978 La Tache from Domaine de la Romanee-Conti in Burgundy. That's always 100 points. But these are wines that just blow your mind. That's our poetry in the bottle. Using the 100-point scale is not a science. It's not impossible to learn. In fact, you can use it now. I give up to 15 points for color, up to 25 points for aroma, another 25 points for structure of the wine, and, finally, 35 points for the overall quality of the wine. In my tasting notes, I'll have the scores-- 13 plus 23 plus 23 plus 33-- and that tells me that it's an outstanding wine. And even easier, you could just say A, B, C, D. Basically, if it's under a B, I wouldn't even bother. Life's too short to drink bad wine. You know the saying. [CELLO MUSIC] It's really easy to set up a blind tasting. You just need a friend to organize the samples, put them in bags if you don't want to see them. You mark the glasses so you kno...