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Drinking Blind: an extra-sensory experience

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… as opposed to being blind drunk!

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Love is Blind Experience definitely befits its name – an amazing experience. Imagine enjoying a five-course meal without being able to see anything, particularly what is on your plate or in your glass (or even where your plates and glasses are!).

On Friday night, Willow Park Wines & Spirits hosted an evening in support of Alberta Guide Dog Services and pairing M. Chapoutier wines – the only wine bottle labels in the world to include braille – with delicious dishes, to heighten our awareness of the need for funds.

On arrival we were welcomed with a glass of Chapoutier Belleruche Rosé, a delicate blend of three Rhone Valley grapes, Grenache, with Cinsault and Syrah that produce a dry rosé with hints of strawberry. A lovely start to the evening.

MC Michael Bigatini explained the format of the evening, and we were introduced to several guide dogs before putting on our beautiful Italian masks with a strip of felt to completely cover our eyes.

Dinner commenced with an appetizer plate, which, when we felt our way round, contained spoons and a shrimp. Wine was poured for us and our hands were guided to the glass of creamy wine with a hint of citrus and delicate flowery notes. Bigatini asked if we thought it was a white or red wine - our table was correct in plumping for white. It was Bila Haute Blanc, a blend of grenach blanc and grenach gris.

I was able to discern that the shrimp was wrapped in salty meat before being cooked and that there was a scallop with a mango salsa, but you really have to concentrate on the flavours and textures to guess what you're eating and drinking!

It was hard to tell what the protein was on the crostini for the 2nd course, capers and Parmesan were easy – but we didn't get Beef Tataki! It was delicious with the Belleruche Rouge, mostly grenache with 20% syrah for a fruity medium-bodied wine with berry flavours.

Our 3rd course of ribs was so delicious I almost licked the plate! And paired well with Chapouter Bila Haut Occultum Lapidem with grapes from Roussillon. It’s a rich, full-bodied wine, soft on the palate, with currant, mocha and rosemary flavours amongst many more.

The cheese course followed, and we weren’t able to guess the cheese! If I’d seen the Shropshire Blue, I would definitely have known what it was but not blind! And joyously paired with Les Meysonniers, one of my favourite 100% Rhone syrah wines, with a distinctively old-world style.

Dessert of Zabaglione was paired with Beaumes de Venise, no mistaking this wine for me. Records of its use go back almost 2,000 years! Spicy, silky, apricot-y and elegant this rich 100% muscat wine is fortified with spirit.

What a magnificent and memorable experience, congratulations to all involved!

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