The Chateaux Noir experience was created by Lidl to remove people’s conceptions about ‘cheap wine’. In this experiment, tasters are served eight different wines in a pitch black room without any knowledge of the price, type or terroir of the wine they are drinking. The idea is that you put your snobbery aside and just enjoy what is put in front of you.I’ve done dining in the dark before, and it was a travesty (but that’s another story) so to say I was anxious would be an understatement however, I was genuinely surprised by all of the wines.
Things kick off with a discombobulation chamber, which is basically a room covered in candy cane stripes and tacky props; not that I minded and made full use of them anyway! After a 10 minute wait we are all paired into fours and led into a pitch black room by waiters wearing night vision goggles. Being surrounded by darkness in a room full of strangers is a little bit disconcerting but the eight glasses of wine I could feel on the table in front of me definitely make it a little bit easier. Lidl’s ‘Master of Wine’ then took us through a guided wine tasting that consisted of four sparkling and four red wines.
At only £4 a ticket, this is definitely the cheapest and most generous wine tasting I have ever been to.And like all wine tastings there are some real duds – the first sparkling wine, a Cava costing £5.29 which in my opinion is grossly overpriced for the battery acid they served, and a Spanish Chianti that is definitely a wine best drank with food. But I was completely surprised by the other 6 wines that we were introduced too. My favourite by far was a South African Pinotage priced at only £3.99. I’ll repeat that, £3.99! I’ve paid 10 times more than that for a single glass of wine and not enjoyed it as much. The wine was rich, fruity, smoky and earthy like all good South African wines are, and sat there in the dark I honestly though that this was the most expensive wine on offer that day. It wasn’t; it was the cheapest.
I was also a huge fan of the Barossa Valley Shiraz, again a crazy price at only £5.99! After visiting Australian vineyards last year, I have become a lover of Australian shiraz’s which offer a lighter, more jammy wine than their Old World counterparts due to the quicker ripening of the grapes in the hot climate.If you’re not a fan of red wine, then the the £7.99 Cremant De Loire Brut will definitely be for you. Made just outside of the Champagne region in France, it is not technically allowed to be called champagne, but has all of the subtle fruity notes and slight dryness that all good champagnes do. In my opinion, if you serve this to your friends, family and guests this Christmas they will have no idea they are not drinking champagne, and may even like it more. However, if you’re looking for a real bottle of champers (not that you need to), look no further than Lidl’s Conte de Senneval Champagne which tastes just like Laurent Perrier, and is only a fraction of the cost.
Overall this day changed me. Normally when I’m in the supermarket I look for wines in the £10 – £20 mark from a country and a grape variety I recognise, know and love. What Lidl’s Chateaux Noir wine tasting has taught me is that good wine doesn’t have to cost the Earth and moving forward I will be definitely heading there first when I need to buy a new bottle. You can take a look at Lidl’s wine collection online here, or click here to find your nearest store.