Sorry if this is a redundant post, but I have been hearing a bit about breaking down bottles into smaller (2-4oz) bottles for blind tasting. Getting 8-10 tastings out of a $50 bottle sounds like a much better idea than having to drink most of the 4 or 6 bottles I open weekly to blind taste at home. I found an old post on the forum here, just wanted to see what people's experiences are more recently.
What I have read:
- Buy 2-4 oz bottles with screw lid. Prime bottles before filling.
- break down a 750ml bottle, label with a code that tells you what the bottle is, and refrigerate. Pull reds out 1/2 hour before tasting.
- Multiple tastes from multiple bottles, all random, no bottle shape to give clues.
My biggest questions are:
Do you top these bottles off with gas?
How long can I keep them/how long will they last?
Is it worth it?
I try to do a flight of 4-6 wines 1-2 times a week, which costs about $200 a week. Finding a more cost effective way would be great, but only if the wines are still able to teach me something.
All input is greatly appreciated.
I would say to get a Coravin instead. You can easily get 10 if not 12 tastes out of a bottle although it gets a bit sketchy towards the end.
You're not going to have the oxygen exposure of breaking down the wines as well as what I call "inverse bottle shock" of splitting them up. Pretty big expense upfront not doubt but if there's one absolute must-have implementation for the device, it's this and if you're tasting often it will pay for itself in terms of not losing wine. I posted a bit about this a few days back but you can read about it here if it's of interest to you https://wineonsix.com/life-under-coravin/
I do this as I'm in the hinterlands of Catalunya and getting up to Barcelona is an undertaking just to do a blind tasting. I looked at your bio and you're in Pennsylvania. While not a market like NYC, don't you have a decent couple of wine bars that could set up tastings? Would seem a lot easier than trying to take it on yourself. I know if I had that option I wouldn't have 100 bottles "under gas" in my cellar right now.
You should also checkout the Repour wine savers. They do a great job for a lot less cost than the Coravin and are much easier to use.
MS Jim Rollston always has great input on this tasting strategy.
I use this method and swear by it. I fill the bottles to completely full (funnel recommended) and then put the cap on tightly (a little messy) then wash the bottle off and I put them in the refrigerator. As far as coding I have each bottle numbered (on the bottom) and a small notebook with one page per bottle with the number on top. This way I don't see what another wine is while looking through to find my number. Using a code didn't work for me because for whatever reason I would always remember it. I also rubber band the bottles together that have same wine so I don't pull the same wine twice. I also never look at the bottle number until after I finish the blind just in case I happen to remember what that wine was.
To do this solo I voice record myself. Once the blind is finished I look to see what each wine was and pull out my grid for that wine. Then I replay back my recording and grade my wine off the grid to make sure I'm hitting the important characteristics of each wine.
I prefer this method over Coravin 100 times over. I am not personally a fan of the Coravin. I used to do this process with a Coravin and I can tell the change in the wine after 1-2 weeks depending on the wine. I bought over $1,000 worth of wine and the majority of it went down the drain. With these viles I don't see a change in the wine over the course of my using them.
Here are the bottles I purchased - make sure to wash them first and priming is a good idea, I don't prime them now:
I can't find the funnels I purchased but these are pretty close
Hope this helps! Happy tasting :)
Well, how timely... I was just breaking down several 750 ml bottles into 4, 6 and 8 oz bottles after pouring a flight for a couple of candidates - they stay useful even after you pass the exam, cause the real goal is to get other people over the line now!
I could not agree more with Jessica - these are a much better strategy than the Coravin in my opinion, especially since you can pull a completely blind set of wines for yourself, which is not easy to do with a Coravin. When I sat the exam, Coravin had no answer for a screwcap, and it still does not work for a synthetic cork, and the DIAM is very questionable. Also, there is no question in my mind after blind tasting hundreds of wines after Coravin that the wines definitely show oxidative development after accessing... That said, I still feel the Coravin is a great tool for blind tasting, especially in setting up comparatives, and is very useful for tasting groups. When entering a period of doing a lot of blind tastings, I would frequently Coravin a wine into 4oz bottles so I always had a "complete set" of everything I thought was examinable, say if I was doing a flight every day.
I got my small bottles here, and it is worth upgrading to the "poly seal" caps that have the cone insert. These are important so that when you fill the bottle to the rim, you seal the cap and the cone displaces a small amount of wine, but there is no air at all in the bottle. IF you keep that bottle at a constant temperature, then the wine will be good a very long time. (The seal will be compromised if there are temperature fluctuations, and air will be drawn into the bottle).
I do not like to pour the wine into them through a funnel, the glugging and splashing that occur dissolve a LOT of oxygen into the wine (I have measured this with an oxygen meter) - I like to siphon the wine from the original 750ml bottle into the small bottle, and I raise it up above the level of the wine once full. Do this in the sink when you first try it!! You will overflow guaranteed! But once you get the hang of it you can manage it without really spilling anything.
I keep a wide variety of sizes so I can choose the right size for my purpose, and generally there is not much left in any of the bottles, so gassing the headspace is not a factor - I also do not prime the bottles...
In my opinion this approach is more than worth the outlay, they pay for themselves pretty quickly in wine that does not get tossed out, or just drunk to excess ;) The bottles last as long as you do not drop them, or if you are not dumb like me and fill a bottle full with "refrigerator-cold" wine, seal it, but leave it on the counter to come up to room temp...
I definitely agree that there can be degradation on certain wines although shills that Coravin has on staff swear they've done comparison tests and that it's all down to personal bias and there's no issue. Hmm...
Also good to hear that someone agrees with me on how question the use of Coravin on Diam is as I've had some back experiences.
Overall, I think I might have an advantage in that my cellar is extremely humid and so there I may see better results than those storing tapped bottles in the fridge where the corks dry out quite fast even if stored on their sides. Dunno. Let you know in another 6 months if I have a change of heart.
I know i mentioned this in the other thread, but this is brilliant! I tried the funnel method before and quickly abandoned it as a large amount of wines showed oxidation when reopened. This came up at a perfect time, as I am spending over $1k this month prepping for tasting. I guess you just buy small plastic tubing from the hardware store for siphoning?
Yes, exactly. I buy a pretty long piece of tubing from the bulk roll at the hardware store - costs like 2 bucks... I use about a 5' length of tubing, 3/16" ID. Not too big or there are more overflows...! Run some hot H2O and cooking wine through it first to remove the funky rubber smell/taste...
Thanks again... just bought 64 4oz bottles.
Thanks so much, this is exactly the info I was looking for. What is the shelf life for the wines? Just a rough idea.
Thanks so much, this is really helpful, and seems like its easier than I would have thought. How long to you find these wines last?
I generally find they last months no problem, and I occasionally find ones that slipped through the cracks and are a couple of years old that are good. Some of them not so much if I did not have them stored at a constant temperature.
Thanks Jim. What is the “poly seal” with cone seal? One of my challenges with these bottles ihat after several uses the caps do not screw on properly when I am carrying the bottles home from a tasting, they unscrew and wine leaks ...
That is annoying! I have not had that problem... The poly seal caps are the ones that do not have a flat top, but rather a cone shaped platic insert in the cap that displaces some liquid when screwed in if the bottle is totally full. The downside of these is the seal breaks if the bottle sees a pressure change, ie the temperature is not constant. That is when O2 can be introduced...
I'm not sure on shelf life, I go through the wines before I see any shift in flavors. So at least a month or so. I'm sure they'd go longer if I didn't use them as quickly as I do :)