How does Wine Spectator review canned wines in blind tastings?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

How do you review canned wines in blind tastings? Won’t the reviewer be able to tell they are tasting a canned wine?

—Bobby, Louisville, Ky.

Dear Bobby,

Good question. We were first confronted with how to impartially review alternative packaging when we started reviewing boxed wines and Tetra Paks about 15 years ago, and now, with sales of wine in cans booming, we’re reviewing more of those than ever before. Our goal is to review these wines in blind tastings among their peers: the same varietals, vintages and appellations, regardless of packaging.

Obviously, we can’t keep alternative-packaged wines in their original packaging. There are two ways we conceal a wine’s identity. First, the wine may be transferred into a sterile bottle and then bagged and hidden among the rest of the bagged bottles. Second, a blind-tasting flight might include some wines in miniature decanters. “Oh!” you might be thinking. “Won’t the taster know that if they come across one of those that the wine they are tasting is from a different package?”

Actually, no. Our tasting coordinators are clever wine lovers who are dedicated to the blind-tasting process. If a taster comes across a wine in one of those little glass containers, it might be from a can, but it might also be from a box, a Tetra Pak, an irregularly shaped bottle (like a magnum, something really heavy, or just uniquely shaped) or it might come from a standard 750ml bottle of wine—there’s no sense in trying to guess what the coordinators have up their sleeve, except to make sure the blind tastings are as fair as possible for all wines, regardless of price, winemaker and packaging.

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny Blind Tasting Cans Packaging

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