Naming blinded bottles

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jdaw1
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Naming blinded bottles

Post by jdaw1 » 11:02 Thu 05 Jun 2014

How should blinded bottles be named?

At the 1958 Horizontal on 3rd June 2014 the blinded bottles were named with lower-case Greek letters. Some people seemed lightly confused, perhaps not helped by how similar are the sounds of some of their names in English (e.g., beta, zeta, eta).

So how should blinded bottles be named? There are several possibilities.

Upper-case Roman letters: A, B, C, D, E, F, …
But naming a mystery shipper “D” or “F” or “G” suggests something that might not be true.

Lower-case Roman letters: a, b, c, d, e, f, …
For example, these were used at the 1960-1963 Double Horizontal on 23rd April 2014, which I didn’t attend. Being lower case lessens the false-suggestion problem, though the solution isn’t elegant on the eye (too much variation in vertical size of letter: compare “a” “b” and “f”).

Lower-case Greek letters: α, β, γ, δ, ε, ζ, …
As discussed above, these seem to confuse.

Upper-case Greek letters: Α, Β, Γ, Δ, Ε, Ζ, …
These are worse than lower-case Greeks, as they falsely suggest (“Β” is Beta not Burmester), while still having the same confusion as the lower-case Greeks.

Arabic numerals: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, …
For single-digit names, I don’t mind this. But naming a faded old wine “12” suggests something that might not be true.

Lower-case Roman numbers: i, ii, iii, iv, v, vi, …
This is not falsely suggestive, and widely understood. Even “xii” doesn’t falsely suggest a particular pre-WW1 vintage. The variation in width (“i” versus “viii”) will force the “i” to look rather small in its circle, but we can live with that.

Upper-case Roman numbers: I, II, III, IV, V, VI, …
More elegant to typeset than the lower-case Roman numbers, and more gravitas. “I” is unlikely to be confused with Infantado; “V” might be confused with Vesuvio (especially adjacent to “IV” and “VI”); and “X” isn’t a problem. Not bad.

Mathematics, Punctuation and Dingbat-type characters: ×, ÷, +, -, $, £, €, ¥, #, ⊕, ⊗, ⊙, †, ‡, ¶, §, ©, ®, ♣, ♦, ♥, ♠, ★, ☆, ✪, ▶, ▲, …
If there is one spare circle, I sometimes name it “+” or “†”, and a second might be named “++” or “‡”. But as names for a dozen holes this is ugly, not possible in many typefaces, and also has naming problems. E.g., would a non-native speaker of English know “¶” as a “Pilcrow”, let alone the joys of “⊕” and “⊗” and “⊙”? No, thought not. Further, the characters differ greatly in weight: some large and full of dark ink, others in the same typeface at the same size are smaller and whiter. Yuck.


So, having thought this through by writing it out, I still like the lower case Greeks (α β γ δ ε ζ η θ ι κ λ μ ν ξ ο π ρ σ τ υ φ χ ψ ω), but also like Roman numbers, upper or lower case I’m not sure.

Others’ preferences?

Some examples:
Image
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Image Image Image
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Edit:
The Decision
Example PDF, and the first two pages thereof:
Image Image
On the glasses pages, the Titles are aggressively kerned, and hence also on pre-pour and sticky-label pages, but not on tasting-note, decanting-note, nor cork-display pages. The Circlearrays are in English, German and Portuguese: obviously this would vary according to the first languages of those attending.

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Re: Naming blinded bottles

Post by djewesbury » 11:04 Thu 05 Jun 2014

Assyrian? Cuneiform? Linear B?
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Re: Naming blinded bottles

Post by PhilW » 11:25 Thu 05 Jun 2014

Lower-case Roman numerals have the minor disadvantage of significantly varying width ("i" vs "xviii" for example), but have the advantage of being clearer in verbal discussion ("bottle three is definitely Dow..."). Bracketing could be an option (i) (ii) to make things clearer, especially on tasting note pages.

Lower-case Roman letters have the advantage of relatively constant with (one character), though potential for minor confusion verbally ("C is Dow..."), though in written form all of our abbreviation for houses start with an upper-case Roman letter which should avoid most possibilities for confusion there. I find the height variation less of an issue than suggested above, especially compared with roman numeral widths; again, brackets could also be used (a) (b) which might also address this as well as be clearer on tasting note pages.

Lower-case Greek are again good for being single-character, but with confusion for people who do not recognise the symbols (having to search the circle outers looking for Eta when asked to try one, or read the circles to name the wine in hand), and with potential confusion verbally ("Did you say 2pts to Eta or Theta").

I dislike the other options for reasons of potential confusion, lack of clarity or complexity. My preference would be for (a) (b) as I think the single character per-bottle looks better; I'm not unhappy with the greek, however.

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Re: Naming blinded bottles

Post by uncle tom » 11:46 Thu 05 Jun 2014

You forgot Chinese:

一二三四五六七八九十

:P :P
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Re: Naming blinded bottles

Post by PopulusTremula » 11:49 Thu 05 Jun 2014

Surely blinded bottles can be labelled as whatever the organisers desire?

Granted, some conventions are undesirable. It would be confusing to blind using names of port shippers for instance, or names with overtly negative connotations are probably best avoided (e.g. dog, cow, pond slime).

Although one man's meat is another man's poison, one could in these days of impending football hysteria label the bottles as countries or as famous footballers. The possibilities are (almost) endless; historic battles, famous ships, philosophers, flowers, herbs etc.

I can see that single characters are nice and add scientificyness to the affair but since most tastings are not conducted in labs, other freer conventions should also be considered.

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Re: Naming blinded bottles

Post by PopulusTremula » 12:31 Thu 05 Jun 2014

Eager to capitalize on my recent but very rare brainwave (of questionable quality), how about elements from the periodic table? The symbols are short so fit well on a label, there are lots to choose from and also allow for some guessing among the participants. Perhaps Sulphur should be avoided though.

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Re: Naming blinded bottles

Post by jdaw1 » 12:49 Thu 05 Jun 2014

djewesbury wrote:Assyrian? Cuneiform? Linear B?
uncle tom wrote:一二三四五六七八九十
These have two sets of problems. Not all people recognise them — of our audience, lower-case Greeks are better recognised. Also, they don’t fit easily into PostScript. Yes, it can cope, but at a real cost in hassle. Perhaps read this request for assistance rendering “泉十段”.

PopulusTremula wrote:The possibilities are (almost) endless; historic battles, famous ships, philosophers, flowers, herbs etc.
Shorter greatly helps elegance of typesetting. The likes of “Ch” works well, even “ChAA” is too long.
The manual wrote:The page looks best if each of the Titles is short, ideally ≤4 characters.
PopulusTremula wrote:Eager to capitalize on my recent but very rare brainwave (of questionable quality), how about elements from the periodic table? The symbols are short so fit well on a label, there are lots to choose from and also allow for some guessing among the participants. Perhaps Sulphur should be avoided though.
Have you seen the draft of the placemats for the 2015 Doty Cup?

PhilW wrote:My preference would be for (a) (b) as I think the single character per-bottle looks better
First post edited to add example of lower-case Roman letters. But in the Titles the curve of a round parenthesis would clash badly with the curve of the circle, at least in some typefaces. Also observe the problem with ascenders and descenders: if “b” is vertically centred, and “a” has the same baseline, then “a” is below the centre. But if they have different baselines that is a different visual clash. For me at least, this doesn’t happen in Greeks, perhaps because my mind doesn’t have a an idée fixe about where is the baseline for “γ”. (And I forgot to centre the Greeks in the example: now done. Please reload.)
Image Image

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Re: Naming blinded bottles

Post by PopulusTremula » 13:28 Thu 05 Jun 2014

Ah, again i'm late to the party...

In that case, how about ISO-4217 currency codes (EUR, GBP, USD) or MIC codes for exchanges/markets (XLON)? Rifle calibers (.223, 30-06, .17, .308)? Or for a real mood depressant; chapters of FCA's handbook (PERG, COBS, SYSC)? Initials of famous economists/golfers/cricketers etc.? UK Standard Library categories (COM, PHI, REL)?

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Re: Naming blinded bottles

Post by flash_uk » 14:40 Thu 05 Jun 2014

I quite like the lower-case greeks, but would have to admit that in a blind tasting of say 15 bottles, I would begin to struggle with these..."mmm, I really like, erm, that kind of trident shaped one, errr, is it psi?"

Lower case roman is simple and universally understood.

So I would say lower case greeks when maybe <10 bottles, as I can remember and recognise alpha to kappa, and for bigger gigs, lower roman.

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Re: Naming blinded bottles

Post by jdaw1 » 14:45 Thu 05 Jun 2014

flash_uk wrote:lower roman.
Assuming that is another vote for lower-Roman letters (a, b c, d, e, f, …).

Examine the below. On the left, I find the non-centredness of the letters without ascenders (a, c, e, g) to be ugly. But on the right, in which each circle is separately centred, I find that a-b-c seems to wobble downwards, and d-e-f to wobble upwards. Double-ugly.
jdaw1 wrote:Image Image
Please could Flash and Phil explain why they have not liked upper-case Roman numbers: I, II, III, IV, V, VI, …?
Image

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Re: Naming blinded bottles

Post by flash_uk » 14:51 Thu 05 Jun 2014

jdaw1 wrote:Please could Flash and Phil explain why they have not liked upper-case Roman numbers: I, II, III, IV, V, VI, …?
Ah, those look fine also.

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Re: Naming blinded bottles

Post by jdaw1 » 14:52 Thu 05 Jun 2014

jdaw1 wrote:Please could Flash and Phil explain why they have not liked upper-case Roman numbers: I, II, III, IV, V, VI, …?
I have just realised why it isn’t so good. The “I” is much much whiter than the “VIII”. If the Ports were of identical colour, the colour would not be perceived as identical. However, that problem can be lessened with suitable decoration.
Image

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Re: Naming blinded bottles

Post by PhilW » 14:53 Thu 05 Jun 2014

jdaw1 wrote:
PhilW wrote:My preference would be for (a) (b) as I think the single character per-bottle looks better
Also observe the problem with ascenders and descenders: if “b” is vertically centred, and “a” has the same baseline, then “a” is below the centre. But if they have different baselines that is a different visual clash.
Agree that a common baseline looks bad for lower case; I'd assumed centred use, as per (except they weren't) the greeks. I don't notice the visual clash that you do in that latter case.

Interesting that Magnus suggested pictures; I almost commented earlier that we're generally more interested in clear identifiers than sequencing, so any suitable range of pictograms or symbols would work, ideally from a common set. This was previously shown to great effect with chess pieces; there must be more such options, though they would be more effort for the creator.

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Re: Naming blinded bottles

Post by PhilW » 14:57 Thu 05 Jun 2014

jdaw1 wrote:Please could Flash and Phil explain why they have not liked upper-case Roman numbers: I, II, III, IV, V, VI, …?
Width variation. Not such an issue with the smaller numbers, but VIII, XIII .. XVIII all look too busy to me; They could be reduced, by maximising font size I suppose, but I see no width-advantage compared to the lower-case version which looks much preferable to me.

having reviewed the above again, I admit I do see the disparity on the "g h i" row :(

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Re: Naming blinded bottles

Post by jdaw1 » 14:58 Thu 05 Jun 2014

PhilW wrote:Interesting that Magnus suggested pictures; I almost commented earlier that we're generally more interested in clear identifiers than sequencing, so any suitable range of pictograms or symbols would work, ideally from a common set. This was previously shown to great effect with chess pieces; there must be more such options, though they would be more effort for the creator.
Do people know chess pieces better than Greek letters? And what about the symbols for the planets?
Image

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Re: Naming blinded bottles

Post by jdaw1 » 14:59 Thu 05 Jun 2014

PhilW wrote:
jdaw1 wrote:Please could Flash and Phil explain why they have not liked upper-case Roman numbers: I, II, III, IV, V, VI, …?
Width variation. Not such an issue with the smaller numbers, but VIII, XIII .. XVIII all look too busy to me; They could be reduced, by maximising font size I suppose, but I see no width-advantage compared to the lower-case version which looks much preferable to me.
This is related to, but not identical to, my late-discovered unhappiness at the variation in darkness.

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Re: Naming blinded bottles

Post by PhilW » 15:02 Thu 05 Jun 2014

jdaw1 wrote:Do people know chess pieces better than Greek letters?
I would expect yes.
jdaw1 wrote:And what about the symbols for the planets?
Also probably less well known. Signs of the zodiac, if done by pictures (which people could recognise) rather than symbols (which few would know) might work also.

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Re: Naming blinded bottles

Post by PhilW » 15:05 Thu 05 Jun 2014

PhilW wrote:
jdaw1 wrote:Do people know chess pieces better than Greek letters?
I would expect yes.
Perhaps also worth noting that some Greek letters are probably better known than others (such as alpha, beta, omega(capital) and pi, also (which if we are after a set rather than a sequence would allow the option of using the most well-known first, and avoiding the less-known and Roman-alpha-equivalents)

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Re: Naming blinded bottles

Post by jdaw1 » 15:07 Thu 05 Jun 2014

PhilW wrote:Signs of the zodiac, if done by pictures (which people could recognise) rather than symbols (which few would know) might work also.
♈ ♉ ♊ ♋ ♌ ♍ ♎ ♏ ♐ ♑ ♒ ♓ ? I recognise none of them.

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Re: Naming blinded bottles

Post by djewesbury » 15:10 Thu 05 Jun 2014

I don't know the symbols of the planets sufficiently well to be able to use them in this context. I do like the idea of WOTN being John Dee's Monas Hieroglyphica; perhaps there are other alchemical symbols. I'm drawing in a museum prior to doing a performance in 50 minutes so haven't considered this closely. But I do think the point about not having to use non-Latin alphabets in order is a good one. I don't know the Greek alphabet at all well and find it slightly off-putting that it is used so much at present.
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Re: Naming blinded bottles

Post by PhilW » 15:13 Thu 05 Jun 2014

jdaw1 wrote:
PhilW wrote:Signs of the zodiac, if done by pictures (which people could recognise) rather than symbols (which few would know) might work also.
♈ ♉ ♊ ♋ ♌ ♍ ♎ ♏ ♐ ♑ ♒ ♓ ? I recognise none of them.
Those are the symbols (I could only recognise five); I was thinking more like small images of lion (leo), scorpion (scorpio), scales (libra), crab (cancer) etc. I think I'd know ~10 but probably struggle with Capricorn and Sagittarius; However, if less known by others, would not be much use. That said I quite like the symbol set, though it fails my goal of immediate recognition.

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Re: Naming blinded bottles

Post by jdaw1 » 15:22 Thu 05 Jun 2014

PhilW wrote:I was thinking more like small images of lion (leo), scorpion (scorpio), scales (libra), crab (cancer) etc.
Please assume that you are restricted to Unicode characters.

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Re: Naming blinded bottles

Post by jdaw1 » 15:30 Thu 05 Jun 2014

djewesbury wrote:John Dee's Monas Hieroglyphica
The problem with Greeks was that not everybody knows them. This suggestion does not help.

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Re: Naming blinded bottles

Post by djewesbury » 15:33 Thu 05 Jun 2014

Sometimes a deliberately unhelpful suggestion clarifies the mind. By indirection, find direction out.
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Re: Naming blinded bottles

Post by jdaw1 » 16:10 Thu 05 Jun 2014

PhilW wrote:a set rather than a sequence
Hmm. The technology exists:

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