Wine Tasting Wins and Stumbles

It has been a busy few days full of wine. On the one hand, my two best friends moved out of Turkey but on the other I seem to have joined-however accidentally-the Turkish wine tasting community!

Last Thursday was E&M’s impromptu going away party. They left Turkey on Saturday for their next adventure so Thursday Em, J, and I went over to theirs to drink their remaining wine. The next day marked my December Turkish wine tasting. At a suggestion from a friend, this wine tasting focused all on wines from the Aegean region.

Aegean wine tasting

Initially I only had plans to do four wine: the Paşaeli K2, the 7Bilgiler Phytagoras (review coming soon!), Suvla 2012 Sur, and the Chateau Kalpak Twin. Then I thought, as fun surprise, to also get the Suvla  2010 Sur so everyone could do a small vertical tasting of that one. That lead to buying my first ever magnum of wine! I only meant to get one bottle of the 2010 but it’s gone everywhere so I ended up with what was left-the magnum.

Sur magnum

The tasting went well but for the first time ever I had leftover wine! When I do a tasting I buy two of everything-one to taste and one to drink. Usually I wait until later in the evening to open the drinking bottles but because I had all full-bodied reds I opened them all right away. Never again. One half bottle and two barely sipped bottles were left.

Aegean tasting

I thought I’d done pretty well moderating my own drinking but apparently not. Although perhaps it was that I’d had two glasses of Chamlija’s Albarino before guests even arrived that did me in. In any case I woke with a slight red wine hangover and facing another wine tasting; this time as a participant.

On Friday, after commenting on a photograph a Turkish wine expert I follow posted, he invited me a tasting he was hosting at the St. Regis in Istanbul. It was a little intimidating-not the least because I was trying to keep up with everything in Turkish! This group into which I’ve been welcomed is made up of Turkish wine professionals and enthusiasts and has been doing tastings together for the last five years.

St Regis tasting

Layered on top of my general nervousness was the terror of a blind tasting! I never do blind tastings because at home there’s just me so I know what the bottles are when I’m opening them! We tasted 10 wines and were told that two were the same, and two were not Turkish. I knew that two of my favorite wines, Chateau Kalpak and Chamlija’s Thracian were in there, but I had no idea what the rest could be.

St Regis tasting

Of the 10 wines I did not manage to find the two that were the same (numbers 1 and 10 as it turned out) nor did I manage to pick out the two French wines. I am rather pleased with myself though for having identified the Chateau Kalpak correctly.

Before he revealed what all the wines were we listed our favorites. I was mildly horrified to discover that:

  1. One was a French wine-I usually eschew French wine but in my defense it was a Grand Cru
  2. One was from a Turkish producer I openly disdain
  3. I did NOT choose the Chamlija Thracian!

St Regis tasting

That I didn’t choose the Thracian as a favorite really threw me, nearly as much as the fact that I chose this Vinkara Mahzen blend which in a blind tasting by a Master Sommelier won 92 points. I think everyone at the table was a little shocked by this one.


They’d added me to their WhatsApp group and invited me to the next tasting, on Christmas Eve. I picked up a few new wine vocabulary words from the group and hopefully by Christmas Eve I’ll have passed the WSET I (Wine and Spirits Education Trust) exam so maybe I’ll be a little less intimidated.


Speaking of the WSET-I’ve been studying like mad. I by and large know the material-in English-but taking the test in Turkish is freaking me out a little. Luckily I had all that leftover wine from my tasting to drink while I studied. Except of course when Sherlock called for break time!

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