May 26, 2023

Expanding your Impressions and Senses w/ Hoby Wedler, Tasting in the Dark

Expanding your Impressions and Senses w/ Hoby Wedler, Tasting in the Dark
Apple Podcasts podcast player badge
Spotify podcast player badge
Google Podcasts podcast player badge
Castro podcast player badge
RSS Feed podcast player badge

Trained in chemistry and born blind, Hoby Wedler, an entrepreneur and sensory expert, has trained his palate to pick up aromas and nuances in wine more acutely than most.  Hoby describes how he does "Tasting in the Dark," which helps wineries connect with buyers and his thoughts on accessibility in the wine industry. 

Detailed Show Notes: 

Hoby's background

  • Born blind, studied history and chemistry (Ph.D.)
  • Francis Ford Coppola asked him to design a blindfolded wine experience, which became "Tasting in the Dark"
  • Went into food & beverage, consulting on product development, comparative set tastings, and aligning wines with wine critics' palates

Tasting in the Dark structure

  • Try to make people feel comfortable under blindfold
  • Use eye masks to change attention away from sight
  • Prime the aromatic vocabulary w/ samples of aromas found in wines
  • Create memories through a truly blind tasting
  • Most impactful for trade teams, distributors, buyers, and for higher-end wines w/ 3-tier distribution
  • E.g., Coppola did tasting for Safeway Group (grocery w/ wine stewards) and saw a significant increase in sales at Safeways for 5+ years afterward

Reasons people buy wine

  • Like the label
  • Read about the wine
  • Like the story, particularly for premium wines ($20+)
  • Most consumers don't know what they're looking for
  • Blind tasting helps imprint a story with the wine in people

2018 - Thomas Keller used Tasting in the Dark to train front-of-house staff to enable them to describe food and drinks better

Aligning w/critics' palates

  • Mostly aligned on aromatics and mouthfeel, abv levels
  • Wineries can adjust when to send certain wines to critics

Sometimes helps wineries w/ blending

Wine & accessibility

  • Chapoutier is classic example w/ braille labels
  • Accessible websites important
  • QR Codes put in the same place can help bring people to accessible websites
  • This can lead to unexpected benefits; e.g., wheelchair ramps were found to be useful to many more than those in wheelchairs

Get access to library episodes

Hosted on Acast. See for more information.