Posts Filed Under wine books
Squeaking this one in juuuust under the wire, here’s the August 2016 edition of the wine product roundup, in which I highlight non-drinkable wine products from the ever-growing sample pool.
Annoyingly, I’m not going to actually be reviewing this month’s products, only mentioning and recommending them. This is due to the fact that said products – both of them upcoming book releases – were authored by people that I consider to be wine writing friends and colleagues; so the potential conflicts of interest are of war-torn Bosnian proportions.
The first is American Rhone: How Maverick Winemakers Changed the Way Americans Drink ($35, University of California Press), by Patrick Comiskey. The only thing that I don’t like about Patrick’s upcoming book is the lack of the word “that” in the title. I’ve known Patrick for several years now, though our paths cross far too seldom. In this new book, he takes on the struggles of the people behind the movement to produce and promote wines made from Rhone varieties grown in the U.S.
Comiskey has a skeptical reporter’s mind, a poet’s way with turns of phrase, an editor’s sense of conservation of words, and a keen (and deep) understanding of – and respect for – wine as a subject matter, all of which come to bear in American Rhone. I’ll just leave it at that…
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Given that, at the time this publishes, I will be on the road (yeah… again…), this seemed like an apt time to dive into the non-liquid portion of the sample pool, and offer up the July 2016 incarnation of the Wine Product Roundup. This month, there are no drinking vessels in the lineup, but the printed word does again make an appearance (because, well, writing).
First up under the review microscope is Bee Smart Gear’s Bottle Protector (about $20 for a pack of 3). Generally, I like to refer to these types of products as “bottle condoms,” since they serve a similar purpose: physical protection, and prevention of leakage (sorry; yeah, I went there).
I am a fan of these products (talking about the wine bottle protectors now), because I have used just about all of them in real-life, checked-baggage scenarios and I can personally attest to their efficacy. In Bee Smart’s case, you slip the bottle neck-first into the bottom of the protector, being sure that the internal bubble-wrap covers the entire bottle (you can fit a 750ml or smaller into these). You then close the double zip-locks at the bottom, roll up the end, and connect the velcro straps.
The bubble wrap provides ample protection, provided that you pack the bottle intelligently (aim for the center of your suitcase, with plenty of dirty undies on all sides). If there is a break, the bags almost always provide great leak protection; in fact, if you enclose a full bottle into one of these, and smash it with a hammer, in my experience it won’t leak unless the bag is punctured (I do not recommend trying that at home, by the way)… Read the rest of this stuff »
image: Insight Editions
I often joke that I’m a shining example of how not to run a freelancing career. For starters, here on 1WD, I write about whatever moves me (rather than the conventional “discover what your audience wants and tailor to suit” style of blogging that is apparently much more likely to attract pageviews), and I do so in ways that actively explodes standard wine writing constructs, putting the pieces back together in any way that I deem fit. And let’s not talk about my penchant for run-on sentences.
I also have done embarrassingly little in terms of hustling for work. Every once in a while, something awesome seems to fall into my lap (yes, I consider myself blessed… as well as kind of stupid…).
Such was the case when I got a call to author the foreword to an upcoming hardcover book celebrating some of the best purveyors of Napa Valley Cabernet (who were recently highlighted at the CabFest 2016 event), joining wine PR maven (and very good writer) Lisa Adams Walter, who penned the introduction.
image: Insight Editions
For about $25, you can now pre-order a copy of the book, titled Napa Valley Cabernets: The Best of California’s Wine Country, which will be released by Insight Editions on September 27, 2016.
If you dig NV Cab, I think that you’ll love everything about this book. Having seen the digital preview, I can tell you that the layout and photos are gorgeous, but then if you’d expect anything less from photographer Bob McClenahan (who more-or-less specializes in capturing gorgeous imagery in the Valley), then you’re not probably paying much attention to CA-wine-related publications these days. Some of the best Cab producers in Napa Valley (and, I’d argue, by extension, the world) will be featured in its pages.
You can pre-order Napa Valley Cabernets: The Best of California’s Wine Country here.
The April edition of the wine products round-up brings us two new items from the sample pool, both of which I can recommend with some reservations. How’s that for an endorsement?!?
First up is the Vinturi Champagne Opener. Yes, you read that correctly. Vinturi has branched out from their popular aerator, and now has a small armory of wine-related gadgets tempting the dollars from the confines of your wallet. Today’s victim of my in-house-testing is sold only via Williams-Sonoma, and will set you back about $35.
Insert your own crude marital aid joke here
The first thing you notice about the Vinturi Champagne Opener, aside from its shininess, and its resemblance to marital aids… okay, the third thing that you notice about it is that it’s heavy. This is a solidly-constructed bit of wine gadgetry, and I wouldn’t want to have this item dropped onto my toes. I will rank its hardy construction as a plus.
Essentially, it’s a twist-off wine opener designed exclusively for sparkling wines; you remove the foil, cage, and cap from your bubbly, and while being careful to keep your fingers out of any of the openings, put the Vinturi on top of the bottle and twist until you hear a “pop” (trust me, you won’t miss the signal; it’s loud). The cork can then be extracted from the upper opening of the Vinturi.
The thing works, and works well. I’m a little concerned about the aggressiveness of its functionality, however; it’s often said that the opening of a sparkling wine should sound as delicate as “a nun’s fart,” and this certainly is not nun-flatulent-like. It’s a loud pop, and whenever I hear that sound, I envision extra bubbles – for which we usually pay extra! – escaping unnecessarily.
Personally, I’m find using a towel and my own hands to pop open my bubbly, so the Vinturi might be of limited use unless you a) plan on opening a lot of bubbly, or b) have a physical issue that makes the traditional method of opening bubbly difficult for you, or c) are a wuss.
Anyway… on to our next “with reservations” item…
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