Blind Tastings

By Marcia Kiesel Posted April 02, 2007

We often hold blind tastings in the F&W Test Kitchen, and they're fascinating for a few reasons: Not only do they open our eyes to new favorites, but they can also redeem foods we've unjustly maligned. One example: For years I had a problem with Grey Poupon mustard. I was convinced it was too salty, and whenever anyone mentioned that they liked Grey Poupon, I would proclaim its saltiness and insist that there are much better mustards out there. Then one day we had a mustard tasting (blind, of course). We were asked to name our number-one favorite among the varieties we sampled. On the comment sheet, I wrote: “This is the best-tasting mustard. Well-balanced, tangy and full-flavored.” Well, guess which mustard that turned out to be? Grey Poupon now has a permanent place in my fridge, right next to Cholula hot sauce from Mexico.
Later on, we had a blind hot-sauce tasting, dipping plastic spoons into little ramekins full of the spicy stuff. This is what I wrote about my beloved Cholula: “Harsh, salty, thin-tasting, yuck.” When the identity of the hot sauce was revealed, I couldn’t believe it. But you know what? I still like Cholula. I still buy it and use it regularly because it still tastes good with food. Sometimes, tasting something like hot sauce on its own isn’t necessarily a good test for how it might react with food. Cholula is mildly hot, which I like. You can use it almost like ketchup. I have other hot sauces of varying heat levels and flavors, and I prefer Cholula for certain things like sandwiches and potatoes. It doesn’t interfere or add a distinctive taste. Just a pleasant bit of heat and tang.

It will be interesting to see what happens if we ever have a mayonnaise tasting. Hellman’s has been my all-around favorite forever—or maybe not?

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