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Aug 09

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10 Point Check: Sample Bottles for Events, Clients & Customers

Text on the label is fuzzed out to protect the innocent. However, if you could read it, you would see a lot number, the vintage, the variety and the appellation, probably the minimum you want on the label.

How do you ensure that a sample bottle of wine successfully arrives at an event or in a customer’s or client’s hand?

Sealing screwcaps with electrical tape and clearly labeling the bottles are key, labelmakers help those who are challenged by penmanship.

It is very frustrating to take the time to pull barrel samples and make a bench top blend to send to an event, only to have the sample not impress upon arrival. I am not talking about the actual shipping and transport, I think we all know the importance of using shippers for wine and trying to ensure that the wine stays cool during transport. I am thinking about issues involved in making a positive impression on the other end, or at least not contributing to any negative ones. I have been doing this for years, I have seen or made all these mistakes myself, and recently forgot to make a sulfur add and the wine tasted aldehydic at the event. The following is a list to keep in mind when filling bottles in the lab.

  1. Use clean bottles and caps – doesn’t look good if there are floaters in the bottle, dirt on the cap or grime on the bottle.
  2. Try to send visually clear wine. Buon Vino Mini Jet FilterTake the samples carefully and if there was not time for the wine to settle, you might consider filtration. There are various options out there including 20×20 and 10×10 bench top pad filters available at home wine and beermaking stores.
  3. Fill bottles sufficiently full, excessive ullage fails to impress and overfilling leads to leaking and pushing corks.
  4. Use sound, good quality corks. Consider whether it is import to use a particular cork over another (real vs technical vs synthetic) also consider whether the cork should be branded or not. Do not use sample corks from the supplier, they are uncoated and nearly impossible to remove.
  5. Label the bottles clearly, as to exactly what it is, and include supplementary information. In certain situations the addition of wine chemistry, total volume, or other esoteric information might be beneficial. If handwriting is an issue, consider a label maker or printing the label on a computer. Also, sometimes printing label templates is helpful as it can prompt you to fill in the blanks and include all the necessary information.
  6. Add about 20 ppm of SO2 to the bottle. It is almost always a good idea, unless you are absolutely certain that it is sufficient or high. Always disappointing to find that the wine has oxidized in the bottle.
  7. If using screw cap sample bottles, not a commercial screw cap it is a good idea to secure the caps with electrical tape as in the photo above.
  8. ???
I guess I can’t count to ten, I only have seven items on my list. What did I forget?



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