In the restaurant industry, blind wine tastings are de rigueur, says Scott Yanni, operating partner of Fleming's in Scottsdale. Wine purveyors visit Yanni several times a week, never telling him what he's drinking or what it costs until after he's sampled it.
"They don't like you to know what it is, since it affects the palate," he says.
Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar passes that experience on to customers this week as it hosts the High-Low Wine dinner. The five-course dinner features three courses paired with two different wines - one about half the cost of its counterpart.
"There's a lot of great $12 bottles of wine out there - it's not always that you get what you pay for," Yanni said.
Not that any of the wines Fleming's includes in the dinner go for $12 a bottle. The least expensive bottle they're pairing with their meal is about $40, still one-third the price of the most expensive served during the course of the evening.
Tamara Bowen, the restaurant's wine manager, says she expects the High-Low Dinner to stand out among the six to 10 tastings the restaurant will host this year. Fleming's tastings have a loyal following, she says, so many of the customers who come to this dinner have had lessons in wine. Even as a professional, she finds herself guessing wrong from time to time.
"Everyone feels fooled at some point," she says. "But I think that people will find that maybe they know more than they think they know."