How does Wine Spectator review canned wines in blind tastings?

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

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

More In Dr. Vinny

Does food cooked with wine taste like wine?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why wine is such a popular recipe ingredient.

Nov 22, 2021

My basement wine cellar flooded. Are my wines ruined?

Wine Spectator's resident wine expert, Dr. Vinny, explains what to watch for when a wine …

Nov 15, 2021

Are sulfates and sulfites in wine the same thing?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the difference between chemical compounds …

Nov 8, 2021

What does it mean to say a wine is "full-bodied"?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how we talk about a wine's structure and "body."

Nov 1, 2021

Is it OK to store wine in Styrofoam shipping containers?

Wine Spectator's resident wine expert, Dr. Vinny, explains the pros and cons of storing …

Oct 25, 2021

What are biodynamic wine grapes?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains some of the farming principles applied to …

Oct 18, 2021