Blind Wine Tasting With Main Line Dine's Mike Madaio

The Main Line foodie recently honed his oenophile chops at the Wine School of Philadelphia. But did he pass his final exam?

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I’m a mess. My legs are jittery. My stomach’s in knots. I haven’t felt this way since, well, finals.

Which makes sense, because I’m about to take the final exam for the Wine School of Philadelphia’s Foundations of Wine program. It’s not the written portion that worries me; it’s the blind tasting, where I’ll be asked to identify four wine varietals with nothing but my senses.

Before this accelerated class began, I considered myself a wine expert. I’ve visited some of the best tasting rooms in California. I’ve wandered around Tuscany. I have a nice little collection growing in my basement. Now, I realize there is far more that I don’t know.

I’ve certainly learned a lot this week. According to the Wine School’s director and founder, Keith Wallace, the class is clearly aimed at making you a better wine drinker. We discussed the subtle, intricate differences between major varietals, how to identify basic structural elements of wine, and how to identify decisions that were made during the wine-making process. Though this isn’t required knowledge for wine drinking, it enhances and enriches the experience in ways I never thought possible.

When I arrive at class, four wines are laid out in a square in front of me. I sniff wine No. 1. Not getting much on the nose. For reference, I move to wine No. 2. Still nothing. Uh-oh. This could be trouble.

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