Blind tastings can serve both as rites of passage—the exams for both the Master of Wine and the Master Sommelier degrees include blind tastings—and as ritual hazings. Within wine circles, nothing cements a reputation quite like acing a blind tasting. Years ago, British wine writer Oz Clarke was served a mystery red. After much sniffing and sipping, he said he couldn't decide whether it was the 1982 Paul Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle or the 1983. There was a reason he couldn't make up his mind: The glass contained a blend of both. But such triumphs are rare; more often than not, blind tastings yield embarrassment.
The article is worth reading - Mike makes some good points about the pros and cons of blind wine tastings.
Speaking of wine, Happy Birthday to Gary! (A day late...)