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.
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 just talked to Jessica about this a couple of minutes ago about storing them. I was planning on buying a mini fridge and storing the bottle in there, but she showed me a small wine fridge that's dual temperature that you can pull out the shelves and replace them with make shift shelves. My question is whether it's best to buy a mini fridge and store them or buy a small dual temperature wine fridge and store them in that from your experience?
I would say either would work just fine, the most important thing is having enough space to keep them all in there that you need to store. The dual zone wine fridges are fine, but you usually don't have any real control over the colder zone, it is usually just a certain number of degrees cooler than whatever you set for the "warmer" part. This is not a huge problem, but it can be tough to get things dialed in exactly. On a higher end model like a Sub Zero the dual zones are actually separately controlled. Experiment and have fun!