WF x mama hooch

Words by Grace Hall. Snaps by Naomi Haussmann.


A first for Winefolk on a cold July evening: a Winefolk gathering in Christchurch’s city centre.  And given the popularity of the city-based Blind Tasting Event, chances are Winefolk will, from now on, be making an appearance in the midst of the big city lights more often.

There’s a definite attraction to tasting wine and musing about it at the source, but equally drinking wine is something that’s very much part of daily inner city life.  Though sometimes we take that for granted: we don’t always stop and appreciate the wine we drink and think about its provenance, or put ourselves out there to meet new folk while we sip.  The Blind Tasting event at Mama Hooch was a reminder that those two things really are what wine is all about.

A perfect spot for an intimate gathering of 20 people (the majority seemed to be named Alex), Mama Hooch’s stylish courtyard-like hole-in-the-wall booth bar was utterly cosy on a less than tropical night.  It was an eclectic bunch: there were winemakers and viticulture students, twin sisters and a mother and her daughter, a lawyer, a student, a chef and a couple.  Proof itself that wine and food are the perfect agents for bringing together diverse and interesting people.

Five wines based off Mama Hooch's wine list were blind tasted. The line-up included 3 whites and 2 reds. What we discovered through the blind tasting was that the most well practiced wine drinkers found it just as tricky to pick each wine’s variety, vintage and region of origin.  The competition, using Winefolk’s very own wine tasting grids for guidance, perhaps wasn’t fierce, and instead entirely friendly, but it sure kept things interesting! 

There was plenty of chat about each of the five tipples.  A Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc to start proved a relatively easy pick for the blind tasters, and was well-liked.  Most didn’t pick the second wine as a Sauvignon: the trick question seemed to get the better of us.  Though this was a perfect illustration of how one bottle of Sauvignon can be entirely different to another.  The third white, an excellent Hawkes Bay chardonnay prompted plenty of discussion about oaked and unoaked wine, and people’s preference or otherwise for that.  A Central Otago Pinot Noir kicked off the reds and was again detected by many, though the final wine; a Hawkes Bay Cabernet Sauvignon was a tougher pick.  In all of the guessing going on, picking vintage proved the most difficult, but there was plenty of insight from the many wine folk in attendance about the characteristics of wine from particular vintages to help with the guessing.  For those less in the know (me…), it was interesting to learn more about everything involved in producing wine, right down to the impact of each season’s weather conditions.

Delicious platters of cheese and bread and olives and meat were the perfect partner to five wines that many found themselves later ordering from the Mama Hooch bar.  But wine, food and fun aside, what the Blind Tasting really proved was that everyone’s taste and preference when it comes to wine will differ, and there was a strong general consensus that that is absolutely okay.  After all, that’s the very reason why there are so many good wines to taste.  Bring on the next five blind bottles..

A big thanks to Akarua for gifting us the delicious 2014 Rua Pinot Noir and to Mama Hooch for opening their doors to our folk.