Posts Filed Under wine products
Forthwith, I present the March 2016 wine product roundup, this time on time, but only juuuuust!
This month, I’ve got two items from the sample pool to present, one of them a bit of a miss, the other potentially a hit (in both the it-totally-works and the painful-punch-to-the-gut senses of the word, which will make more sense in a minute or two).
Dialing it up? (image: sponti.com)
In terms of the near-miss, we have Sponti’s Catalyst Ultimate Wine Server, which as far as I can discern is not yet available for purchase. The idea behind the Catalyst is a combination of wine pourer and aerator, only the aeration is adjustable thanks to a nifty little dial on the back of the pourer.
As a pourer, the Catalyst works as well as any similar in-bottle-pourer, minimizing post-pouring-action dripping. As an aerator, I get decidedly mixed results from the thing. The adjustment of the dial is easy, but I had two issues with that: 1) the lower settings seemed to do very little in terms of actually impacting the aromas and flavors of the wines on which I tried it, and 2) it’s easy to go a bit wild and end up turning the dial so far that you loosen it entirely (adding a simple plastic notch in the design might prevent this, but might complicate cleaning the unit if it prevented the dial from being removed).
It’s easy to clean, but its plastic design also feels a bit on the cheap side. I’d have to wait and see the final price, but generally speaking I think more works needs to be done to tweak this item.
Now, onto the Potent Hit portion of this month’s round-up…
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In the words of the Violent Femmes, “it’s just a habit.”
Seriously, this late-monthly-product-review thing is becoming a bit embarrassing. But late again I am, because, well, my life is kind of bonkers. Awesome, but bonkers.
Anyway, today I present my take on another wine product sample, a take that was technically meant to be published last month, but technically I got all, like, too busy an’ stuff.
This last month, I gave a sample of the Tribella wine aerator (about $40) the once-over. Tribella is the brain-child of Skip Lei, who wrote to me that the product is an attempt to “complete the circuit of beauty from the bottle to the glass; My simple goal was to make the wine the hero, not some device.”
Simple, maybe, but loftily stated.
At this point, you might be almost as sick of wine aerator products as I am, but the Tribella actually has quite a bit going for it. First and foremost, this portable little ditty meets Lei’s primary aim, which he expressed was to create an aerator that “allows the existing wine to naturally catch a breath.” The product does a very good job of aerating wine without subsequently beating the living hell out of the juice.
While in its case it looks like a medical blood-drawing instrument from straight out of from the Alien movies, once inserted into the neck of a wine bottle the petite Tribella takes on a much more aesthetically-pleasing air. It’s separation of the wine being poured into three streams is relatively quiet, effective, and almost hypnotic in appearance (think picturesque fountain waterfall). Even your kids will think it’s cool. It’s also sturdy, and the non-drip pouring action is a nice bonus.
The best thing about it? It might be the dead-easiest wine aerator to clean. Rinse it in tap water, and you’re done.
The bad news? It costs forty bucks. To me, that seems a bit too steep for this nifty little gadget, as much as I’ve come to enjoy using it. But the bottom line? The Tribella delivers, even if expensively.
UPDATE: The Decantiere folks at unbiasedwine.com have offered 1WD readers 10% off the Decantiere if you purchase it at this link and use the coupon code 98NFUCQW at checkout.
Ok, so I am a weeeeeee bit late on the wine product round-up for January 2016 (I blame travel, and drinking, both of which constitute “work” in my bizarre-but-fantastic life).
This month, I’ve got only one product to feature; a small one, with a relatively big price, and even bigger aspirations: Vagnbys Wine Decantiere ($44).
The Decantiere is billed as a “7-in-1” wine accessory, but I am having trouble fulling understanding what all seven of those functions are supposed to be, so I will rattle off the ones that I am sure that thing does after giving it the once-over in the 1WD test kitchen:
- Non-drip Pourer
- Filter (for sediment, etc.)
- Stopper (for storage)
That’s probably good enough…
Anyway, it’s made of stainless steel, TPR, PP and silicone, and seems pretty easy to clean (though I’ve not given it a go with a wine that had serious sediment, so your mileage may vary). From a design standpoint, the thing definitely looks good. It’s also light, and doesn’t make the bottle top heavy when you use it.
Too often, multi-use wine accessories end up not being very good at any of their functions, but the Wine Decantiere is a nice exception to that rule; while the aeration isn’t superb, it’s more than good enough to handle young red wines in need of some O2. The filter is a nice touch (though I suspect it will become difficult to clean with heavy usage), and works well, and not having to clean up pouring drips is always a welcome feature in my household. Finally, the stopper is, indeed, air-tight, which will help prolong the drinking window of an opened bottle maybe an extra day or so.
All in all, the Wine Decantiere is worth a serious look, but you’re paying a premium for the construction material and the stylish design.
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.”