Ok, last-minute shoppers, I present (see what I did there?) to you the December 2015 edition of the 1WD Wine Product Roundup, in which I dive into the non-vinous portion of the product sample pool.
Today, I’ve two items that will receive the deeper-dive inspection.
The first is something about which I’ve serious mixed feelings: the Aura rotating wine glass.
The idea behind this one is interesting: create a glass that almost eliminates the potential to spill its contents, in that it cannot really be knocked over; as a side benefit, make it easy to swirl the wine inside of it (by the way, do any of you other wine nerds find yourself swirling any liquid in a glass? water? orange juice? I do that all of the time…).
First, the good news: it is, in fact, insanely difficult to spill wine poured into the Aura. While seeing the thing rotating on a table is a bit disconcerting at first (it has a weighted ball in its center, and so never actually sits “upright” when set onto a table), the effect overall is very, very cool. And, the center weight and large bowl dimension does seem to make swirling a bit easier when it’s in your hand.
The bad news is twofold: first, it’s expensive (over $50 for both the large and small versions); second, the trade-off for the Aura’s sturdiness is the thickness of its glass, which makes the rim a bit too thick for my tastes. Overall, this one is probably best reserved as a gift for the wine lover who quite literally has everything else.
I’m a bit more enthusiastic over the second product, Suzanne Mustacich’s Thirsty Dragon: China’s Lust for Bordeaux and the Threat to the World’s Best Wines (Henry Holt & Company, 338 pages, about $20). While one could argue that Bordeaux’s are not the best wines on Earth, it’s hard to argue that they’re not at least in the running, so we’ll forgive the dramatic subtitle.
It helps that Mustacich not only has a lot of wine writing under her belt, but that she also lives in Bordeaux and is an “insider” to the insane model that they execute for selling their wines. You might not think that a book that focuses on a culture clash between how China (as buyers) and the Bordelais (as sellers) would be all that interesting (this is a wine book that’s recommended to be listed in the Business & Economics section, by the way). But in this case, you’d be wrong.
Thirsty Dragon delves into the odd business dance between China and France in manners that are at times suspenseful (digging into brand squatting and counterfeit-busting operations) and humanistic (getting inside the heads of wine producers impacted by all of the madness in how they conduct their livelihoods). The result is a well-executed read, and one that might just give you some underbelly details about the wine business that you can never “unsee.”