Sips and Sensibility: Raffaldini Wine Trials

Located less than an hour from Winston-Salem, Raffaldini Winery & Vineyards is known for its beautiful tasting room, stunning vineyard walking tours, and warm hospitality. But did you know you can take part in the blending of the winery’s annual Grande Riserva?

Called Assemblaggio (Italian for assembling), this limited-time event takes place on Saturdays and Sundays between November 3 and 18. Whether you’re an aspiring sommelier or simply an at-home wine enthusiast, this two-hour sip session is a must-do experience for anyone who enjoys a glass (or two or three) of red.

Raffaldini-Tuscan-VillaRaffaldini Winery & Vineyards

The Grande Riserva Story
If you’ve seen a bottle of Raffaldini Grande Riserva, you might recognize the bumble bee illustration on the label. Just as the bumble bee defies the laws of physics with wings that are too small and too slow to support the bug’s weight, so the Grande Riserva defies the difficult climate conditions from which its born to produce an exceptional, big red.

To make this wine, Montepulciano, Petit Verdot and Sagrantino grapes are harvested at optimal ripeness and then triple sorted and dried using the Appassimento drying process. This further concentrates the grapes’ natural flavors and aromas.

The Grande Riserva blend changes from year to year based on how the fruit progresses and how the wine ages in the cellar. And for the past 10 years, Raffaldini has used Assemblaggio sessions to inform the next blend.

How the Trials Work
The blending trials take place in the winery’s barrel room. Led by winemaker and owner Jay Raffaldini, tables of eight participants work together to taste samples of five different wines that will make up the Grande Riserva.

Everyone tries and evaluates the five wines to form a profile of each. Then working as a group, each table creates a new blend based on their preferences, writing down the percentages of each wine used. Jay consults with each table, trying every blend.

Ten blending events are held over the course of November, providing 80 different blended samples. Inevitably, trends start to form. Using statistical analysis of those trends, Raffaldini develops its new Grande Riserva!

Tips for Attendees
The wine blending event is focused on dry reds, so as long as you enjoy sipping your way through samples of those, you’ll enjoy this one-of-a-kind experience. It’s also a great way for a casual wine drinker to learn more.

Unlike wine blending experiences at other wineries, attendees of this event are not charged for a case of wine—although they’re always welcome to purchase one to take home. At just $35 per person, Raffaldini is now accepting reservations for the 2018 blending trials. The first few weekends fill up quickly, so book early to Riserva your spot!

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