Posts Filed Under wine products
This month’s wine product review roundup requires you to get your reading glasses, as we’re taking a look at two upcoming wine reference book releases, one of them tiny (and insanely useful), the other heavy and large (and maybe a lot less useful).
First up is the venerable Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine, 2018 edition (Mitchell Beazley, 336 pages, about $17). This tiny marvel is updated annually, and at this point I struggle to say anything about it that I’ve not already said in my usual yearly boot-lickingly obnoxious recommendation of this mighty mini-tome. No wine reference book series even comes close to packing as much utility into such a small package, and doing it so consistently. That I know so may of the contributors probably only makes my endorsement seem even more boot-lickingly boot-licking, but that won’t stop me from highly recommending it. Again.
In the interests of offering a balanced appraisal, I will say that the supplemental material in last year’s 2017 40th Anniversary edition is, in my view, superior to this most recent release; so if you own that one already, you may want to skip this one and see what the 2018 edition has to offer.
Next up is a new edition of the much larger, heavier, and visually impressive Larousse Wine (Hamlyn, 656 pages, about $60). Headed by technical consultant Master Sommelier Georges Lepré, with a team of contributors that are primarily French-based or French-wine-focused, you’d think that a book with 800 photographs and 37 maps would be insanely useful. And you’d be half right…
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Photo-bomb courtesy of Lorelai Roberts
Once again with travel looming, and with a break between bouts of Alsace coverage probably not being that bad of an idea, we’re going with an early run of the monthly wine product review roundup (in which we highlight wine product samples that I receive that cannot be safely digested).
First up, we go (very) small scale with Hand-painted wine glasses by Jodi Granovsky (around $30 and up). Granovsky contacted me and offered up some examples of her work (available on Etsy), which I can now attest to striking a fantastic balance between obviously-hand-made and display-worhty-rustic-chic. As you’ll see from the inset pics, she’s fond of seasonal themes.
Generally – and it’s the case here – I don’t recommend ornamented stemware for drinking, as the designs tend to overshadow (and in some cases obscure) the true star of the gustatory show, which ought to be the wine, and cleaning something that is hand painted tends more often than not to be a pain. But if you’re looking for a pretty, high-quality gift for a wine lover on your list, these would likely find a nice spot on display somewhere in his/her home.
Next, and lastly, I was recently able to put a sample of the ArT Wine Argon Wine Preserver Spray (about $15) through the paces. The ArT is basically a can of non-toxic argon gas that you spray directly into an opened bottle of wine. Being denser than air, the argon should sink below whatever oxygen is in the bottle, protecting the unfinished wine in the bottle from oxidation (thanks, chemistry!). ArT claims a fourteen day preservation maximum; I sprayed the stuff into a half-empty bottle of Christophe Pacalet Chenas (delightful, by the way), put the ArT-provided stopper into the bottle neck, and left town for about a week. When I came back, that Chenas was still fresh-as-a-daisy drinkable (ask me how I know).
On the plus side, ArT is easy to use, it seems to work great, and the can is recyclable. The downsides: I’m not sure how the hell you will be able to tell when you’re getting low on argon in the can (ArT claims it’s good for up to 130 uses), and it’s probably the least-romantic wine preserver ever (unless you consider spraying Glade to be a romantic endeavor). Still, I can see a lot of viable uses for it, particularly on premise.
With some crazy travel happening in the short term, I’m making the executive decision to go ahead and give you the September 2017 edition of the monthly wine product review roundup a bit on the early side (rather than scrambling to get my act together on it at the end of the month, which is my usual MO).
I have some reservations about both of the non-edible products from this month’s sample pool, so let’s begin with the item sporting the fewest of saidreservations:
The Winemakers of Paso Robles by Julia Perez & Paul Hodgins (328 pages, $119)
This impressive tome, almost equal parts gorgeous photographs and Paso Robles winemaker profile pieces, began as a Kickstarter project and has seen a recent surge in media and press (within the US fine wine sphere, anyway). And when I write “impressive,” I do mean impressive. As in, Darth-Vader-in-The-Empire-Strikes-Back levels of impressive.
Perez’s stunning photos are the focus of this coffee-table book, with Hodgins’s prose providing the support. The profiles, while not exactly fluff pieces, tend towards the lifestyle-magazine tone of prose; not necessarily a bad thing, and certainly not without leaving you with a good sense of what drives the winemakers of Paso to do what they do so well. But if it’s controversy that you’re after, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
The reservation comes from the book’s size and price (and weight); all are pretty hefty. It’s not as though you’re getting ripped off – far from it – but this is a coffee table book that’s damn nearly the weight of a coffee table. In paging through it, I kept thinking that a) I can’t read this in bed, because it will crush my sternum, and b) it might behoove these guys to put out a smaller, less expensive (and lighter?) soft-back edition…
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Due to family vacationing, I’m getting a slight jump start on the monthly wine product review roundup (I’ve got plenty of wine coverage coming, so don’t worry your pretty little inebriated heads over that, ok?). And, thankfully, I’ve got two fairly-priced wine preservation gadgets from the sample pool that are absolutely worthy of your (sober) consideration.
First up is the ingenious little Repour Wine Saver (a 4 Pack runs about $9). The Repour is the brain child of chemist Tom Lutz, and employs similar oxygen-absorbing tech used in the produce industry. The idea is that the slightly top-heavy but also non-toxic repour is used in place of the bottle’s original closure after opening, and chemicals in the Repour attract most of the oxygen in the bottle, thus prolonging the life of any wine you have left over in the bottle. Effectiveness is, naturally, reduced the longer you leave the bottle unstopped, and the more open space that’s left in the bottle, etc.
The Repour was run through some independent lab tests, has the nod from some sommeliers and wine pros, and in my limited experience works, almost too well, causing some of the wines I “Repoured” to close up temporarily. The only real drawback is that the Repour is a one-and-done product (you basically use one per bottle) and needs to be discarded after each bottle is finished. It will definitely get you several extra days of drinking from an open bottle of vino; the company claims that you can get up to a month, but anyone who is doing that either doesn’t known how to sell wine (in on premise settings) or doesn’t know how to drink it (in consumer settings)…
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