I was talking yesterday about judging a book by its cover and it reminded my of something from the recent trip to my father’s house.
We were having a wine tasting and it wasn’t blind. This led naturally to the subject of what advantage a blind tasting has. The most important thing you’re guarding from in a blind tasting is probably reputation. If you know what Robert Parker thinks about the wine then you might let it influence you unduly.
But a second aspect is one of design – the design of the label, the weight of the bottle and any directly printed onto the bottle. This last was considered by some around the table to be a key indicator. A very poor indicator, by the by, is fastening (although plastic corks are a big no-no). Between screw tops and corks there is not much useful information to deduce the quality of the wine.*
All in all though, the only trend observed is that heavier bottles tend to be nicer. Not a guarantee of course and I can hear all of the objections coming. I’m not saying heavy bottles of wine will be nice but that wines of a better quality will often have thicker bottles.
As a side note we all knew what we liked about some labels but found it difficult to articulate what it was. Garish labels are usually bad, as are pun titles but not always (try drinking some Nine Popes if you don’t believe me). But as to what a good label looks like, it’s something you have to learn.
If all of this sounds wishy-washy then that’s because it is. What we clearly need to do is a double-blind test. Look at the bottles and score the wine without tasting it, and then score the wine. If we split the bottle scores into weight and label then we might be able to prove the better indicator.
Sounds like something to try over Christmas. The only problem is that if you’ve seen the label then you know what wine it is. Bringing previous experience and Parker back in to play. This might take some planning.
*Although everyone agrees that the screw top is far preferable. Because there isn’t consensus out in the industry there isn’t a trend in the wine.