There’s a hidden, invitation-only area of the Tequila Matchmaker app that was built so that we could conduct blind ratings for groups of people. It might be the single most fun part of the app.

We’ve used this portion of the app to run serious tequila contests, blind tasting experiments with Tequila Matchmaker Tasting Panel members, and even public events like our “Tequila Challenge.”

We created the video (above) to show how this process works, what to expect, and point out a few general guidelines.

Blind tastings are always an interesting experience for participants, who are often surprised by their choices when they don’t have a brand story to rely on. And, to be honest, it’s not for everyone. But, for those who are brave enough to uncover the truth about their own personal palate, we’ve put together a list of suggestions that will help you get the most out of the process.

1) Don’t think you’re being tricked
Nobody is trying to trick you. Either you like something, or you don’t. It’s just that simple. If you like something, how can that be wrong? If you are afraid of awarding high scores for the “wrong” tequila, then you’re probably worried about what others may think of your choices later on. There are no wrong tequilas. Consider this a great opportunity to discover what you truly like without the influence of branding, marketing, or personal relationships.

2) Trust your own palate
You know what you like, and what you don’t. Second-guessing yourself isn’t going to give you the results you are looking for. You’ve built up a lifetime of tasting, so use that!

3) First impressions are usually correct
Train yourself to remember your immediate reactions. Assuming the samples have had enough time to open up, these are often the most honest observations you’ll have. Once your logical brain kicks in and start to reason and process and dig deeper, it tends to push those first impressions away. Don’t let that happen!

4) Compare, compare, compare
The most useful blind tasting tool you have at your disposal are all of the other tequilas in front of you. Use them against each other because it will make their differences more clear. It would be a mistake to rate each tequila completely before moving on to the next. Compare them and you’ll be surprised how much more you can uncover from each of the samples.

5) Develop your own system
Everyone has their own way to approach this, and we encourage people to come up with their own system. With that said, we like to focus on the aromas of all the samples first before taking a sip of any. We keep notes of what we’re detecting and use them later when we start the tasting portion.

6) Clear your palate between tastings
It’s a good idea to reset your nose and mouth between samples. For an “aroma reset”, one good tactic is to smell your wrist or forearm. Your natural body scent can bring you back to home base. Unsalted crackers, plain white bread, or a neutral cheese with quince paste can get your mouth ready for the next tequila. And water—drink lots of it!

7) Leave descriptive comments as you rate
You will be happy you did this after you see the results. Reading your own comments will bring you back to that moment of pure objectivity once the brand names are revealed.

8) It’s OK to change your mind
After you’ve given everything a try, consider taking a look at your scores and be sure everything looks right to you. Does your scoring show your favorite tequila is rated highest, and your least favorite lowest? If not, make adjustments so that everything looks just right before you save your scores for the final time.

9) Don’t score too low
It is common to end up scoring everything lower than usual. Everyone does it at first, and it takes some practice to overcome. It’s also helpful to rate the samples against each other, and not compare them with the best tequilas you’ve ever had in your life. At least one of the samples should be in the 90s. If that is not the case, then you are scoring everything too low. Also, if you have several items scored in the 60s, this is also a giveaway that your scores are either too low, or you actually don’t like tequila. :-)

10) Don’t listen to other people. They’re not you.
One important rule during blind tastings: NO TALKING! One person’s comment about a product can instantly spoil the objectivity for an entire room. If you blurt out your opinion during a blind tasting, you may not be invited back. And if you happen to hear someone say something during a tasting, do your best to ignore it. That person is not you, and has an entirely different palate.

11) Have fun
With a bunch of tequila sitting in front of you, this should be easy. Don’t take things too seriously, you’re not being judged, and there are no wrong answers.

There are several ways that you can participate in a tequila group blind rating event. One is to become a member of the Tequila Matchmaker Tasting Panel. Another is to subscribe to our newsletter so you can be informed of any public events we may be holding.

What is your process for blind rating? If you have any tips to share, please post them below!