The couple was sitting on a wooden bench near the Point Reyes lighthouse. The man was looking through binoculars, hoping to get a glimpse of a whale, when I stepped up and asked if they’d like to partake in a blind tasting.

They said yes without hesitation.

Dale Carlson, 53, is a grape grower, and Diane Giacomini, 55, is well versed in the wine culture of Mendocino County. Both are from Ukiah. (I began to think there must be seven degrees of separation in the wine world.)

What to pair with whale watching? Pinot noir of course. Just my luck I had a couple ready to uncork.

Carlson and Giacomini tasted bagged bottle number 1 and then number 2, ultimately choosing number 1 as the victor. “I like it,” Giacomini said. “It’s easy drinking, not really heavy or strong or overly dry – I know it’s not a cab. I can tell you what it’s not but not what it is.”

Carlson said he thought number 1 was a pinot or a sangiovese.

I unbagged the bottles, revealing number 1: the Longboard Vineyards, 2007 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, and number 2: the Davis Family Vineyards 2006 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.

They said they liked the spontaneous blind tasting, but Carlson said don’t expect most people to agree in a tasting – ever. “Everybody’s palates are so different,” he said. “What one person raves about, someone else might not like.”

True enough. But I thought on this day, a blind tasting at least offered a diversion. At one point Carlson said “I’m tired of looking (through these binoculars) for whales and not finding any.”

As for the tasting, the grape grower joked “The only thing that would be nicer is if we were doing the tasting inside the lighthouse.”

People weren’t permitted to tour the lighthouse because of the high winds kicking up.

Giacomini said she has toured a lot of light houses along the coast. Asked what sets Point Reyes apart, she said with a laugh, “the 306 stairs to the top.”

Would you ever do a blind tasting with strangers? What’s the benefit of a blind tasting, as you see it?

Where are the best places to have a blind tasting with strangers? What are the best varietals and/or wines to bag up?