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How to conceal bottles at blind tastings?


Wine 35

How to conceal bottles at blind tastings?

carswell | Jan 1, 2009 10:47 AM

At most of the tastings I organize, the wines are served blind: the bottles in each flight are kept covered until everyone has tasted through the flight, at which point the bottles are unveiled.

In the past, we've concealed the bottles in narrow brown paper bags provided by the SAQ (the local liquor monopoly). Setting aside ecological concerns, they're just about perfect for the purpose:
- They completely cover the bottles without hugging them, making it difficult for participants to tell whether the bottle is, say, Bordeaux-style with square shoulders or Burgundy-style with sloping shoulders;
- When twisted around the neck of the bottle, they stay in place without clips, ties, tape or fasteners;
- They can be written on, making it easy to avoid mix-ups (we number each bottle according to the order poured; the order is usually random and the numbering is done just before pouring); and
- The bags are disposable -- practical for clean-up, since drips and spills often occur, despite our using wine pourer discs.

Effective today, the SAQ has eliminated all single-use paper and plastic bags from its sales outlets. While thoroughly laudable from a green standpoint, this move has left us wondering how we're going to conceal the bottles at our future tastings. Wrapping them in aluminum foil is probably even less earth-friendly than using disposable paper bags, plus foil gives away the bottle shape and is hard to write on. Some sort of reusable cloth sleeve would be ecological but would probably require a clip or tie and couldn't be written on; I'd also worry about a seam or fold at the bottom destabilizing the bottle and causing it to fall over. Decanters are ideal in theory but not in practice: we usually serve between 12 to 15 wines per event and up to six wines per flight; our storage space is limited; and properly rinsing, washing and drying them between flights and between tastings would be difficult.

Any ideas for helping us out of our predicament? Has some enterprising merchant developed a solution? Thanks!

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