Posts Filed Under wine products
And you thought that I’d forgotten about the monthly wine product sample round up here, didn’t you?
C’mon… admit it…
The handsome Barvivio lineup
This month, I’ve got two wine gadgets to mention, both of which are technically multi-purpose, and both of which are well worth a look. Unfortunately, only one of them is what I would consider an over-achiever for the price, but neither are going to sentence you to a fiscal future full of cat food eating in the dark.
First up is the Barvivo waiter’s friend style corkscrew. Some of you will recall that I mentioned this little well-made beauty about two years ago, and since receiving that product sample it has become my go-to, most-used corkscrew here at Chateau Dude. The Barvivo folks recently added new handle designs to their lineup, including ebony, a handful (see what I did there?) of resin options, and (my personal fave), Bai Ying wood. Thankfully, they didn’t mess with the overall design, quality, or (somewhat miraculously) the bizarrely low price. I still find it incredible that this thing is so dependable and yet will set you back only about $13. I’ve no idea how they manage that, and frankly, I’m not sure that I want to know how they manage that. And yes, the corkscrew is multipurpose, since it’s also technically a bottle opener…
And next, we have Corkcicle’s 25oz Canteen. At about $35, this isn’t cheap. But nothing about this effective canteen is cheap. Now, I have a love/hate relationship with Corkcicle’s more famous wine chiller product, in that I love to hate the damned thing; I never, ever use it, and I keep it in the house only so that I can point it at people and say “Harrrrrryyyy Potterrrrrrr” in a frightening British accent. But it’s the opposite scenario with their canteen; I kind of love this thing. It’s solidly built, does a bang-up job of keeping its contents cold or hot (not just wine, of course – multipurpose, beeeeatches!) for what seems ridiculously long periods of time, and is just the right size for holding an entire bottle of wine. It’s not exactly cooler-friendly material, but then this thing basically is the cooler.
Closing out the fourth month of 2017’s spin around the sun here on 1WD means that it’s time for the monthly look at the wine product samples that we can’t drink (at least, not without the use of a blender, and not without probably being rushed to the hospital afterward).
For April, I’ve got only one recommendation, and once again it’s a wine book (because, hey, the market needed more of those, right?): Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan’s Rosé Wine: The Guide to Drinking Pink (Sterling Epicure, 184 pages, about $20).
Full disclosure: I consider Simonetti-Bryan to be like the childhood tomboy friend that I never had, and drink rosé wines all year long (and think that you should, too); so my take on this MW’s latest written release might be a tad biased.
In any case, there’s a lot to like about Rosé Wine, starting with the attractive layout and the hold-it-in-one-hand-while-drinking-a-glass-of-rosé-with-the-other design. This is a book very much geared towards beginners who love rosé, and want to take a deeper dive into it without getting the mental bends. A good portion of the book is devoted to understanding how rosé wine is made, why it’s popular, and what to expect from the various sub-styles on offer in the market (with solid recommendations in each that helpfully include label shots).
Simonetti-Bryan is a bit of a self-professed geek, and it’s nice to see how deftly and entertainingly she weaves that geekiness into the sidebar elements of Rosé Wine. For example, she offers advice on the proper use of the word varietal, facts and figures on moderate alcohol consumption, tidbits on wine region trivia, and results of wine-related scientific studies, all in helpful contexts and in a decidedly non-douchebaggy writing voice.
Is Simonetti-Bryan cashing in on the current market love affair with rosé with this book? Sort of, but that’s a minor cavil to levy against Rosé Wine, particularly when you consider how helpful and entertaining it will be to the novice rosé fan (and when you consider just how little coin wine books net for their authors in general).
In wrapping up March, it’s time for me to round up some of the wine product samples that are sent to me (the kind that usually aren’t physically digestible) for the month. And today, I’d like to highlight two very recent wine book releases that won me over to the point of garnering fairly high recommendations from this normally somewhat-skeptical reader…
First up is Essential Winetasting: The Complete Practical Winetasting Course by Michael Schuster (Mitchell Beazley, about $26). 2017 has us seeing a new edition of this oft-overlooked minor classic, which seems to fly under the radar just enough that ended up being ignored and re-released (in the USA, anyway) regularly over the last fifteen or so years.
Which is a pity, really, because Schuster is a fairly big deal in the UK when it comes to wine know-how, and his time as a retailer and writer are evident throughout nearly every page of Essential Winetasting.
The wit is sandy-British-levels-of-dry, and the true mastery of the book can be found within the first fifty-or-so pages, in which Schuster puts on a masterclass in detailing how our senses interact with wine as a product. If you’re too precious about preserving the mystery of the world’s greatest beverage, then this is decidedly not the reference book for you. But those who like to peel back the covers to see how things tick, and have a serious side to their hobbies, will probably love this book (I cannot speak to improvements over earlier editions, but I’m guessing that most of you reading this, like me, have had little-to-no exposure to those; so I’m advising anyone who doesn’t yet own this give it a good long look).
Next we have the cheekily-named Wine Isn’t Rocket Science: A Quick and Easy Guide to Understanding, Buying, Tasting, and Pairing Every Type of Wine by Ophelie Neiman (Author), Yannis Varoutsikos (Illustrator), (Black Dog & Leventhal, about $25).
It’s not often that an illustrator deserves equal billing with an author in a wine book, but this is one of those rare cases, for the cartoon-ish images throughout Wine Isn’t Rocket Science lend an approachable air to this beginners’ guide.
Where the book’s format really shines is in its middle section, where overviews of popular (and some not-so-popular) wine grapes and styles are presented. The visual aids detailing the grapes’ common aromas and flavors will be instantly appreciated by visual learners; and once you get past the cutesy kitsch of the “Love Rating” given to describe each grape’s popularity, you just may (as I did) find yourself learning something new despite yourself.
Here’s another entry in the monthly series in which I review the samples that I cannot drink without being admitted to the hospital.
First up, we have a long-form Johnson. Hugh Johnson, that is, who I would posit is the world’s greatest living wine writer. Mitchell Beazley has put together the 256-page collection Hugh Johnson on Wine: Good Bits from 55 Years of Scribbling (about $20). And if this is what Johnson considers “scribbling,” then the state of wine writing today, in the wake of his assumed retirement from the genre, is somewhat sad indeed (except for the “somewhat” part, that is).
Hugh Johnson on Wine is a collection of Johnson’s wine essays stretching back to the 1960s; as such, it functions in part as a sort of retrospective on the development of the modern worldwide wine industry, as viewed through the lens of his wit and prose (he has few equals with respect to either). One of the most entertaining aspects of the book are the margin notes, which Johnson annotates in his typically dry, erudite fashion from the perspective of his current, older self. In other words, the book is a gem for lovers of wine, and appreciators of dry British wit.
Second, there’s the Wine Aerator Decanter Vacuum Preserver, Foil Cutter, & Accessories By Artick (about $21). I know what you’re thinking: the last thing that we need is another f*cking wine aerator!!! And you’re right. Having said that, I can actually recommend this little accessories collection, primarily because it is, actually, a collection of accessories.
Now, none of the items in this lineup are particularly excellent, and none of them are of the very highest quality levels (the filter for the top of the aerator in my sample was slightly damaged, though still safely usable). None of the Artick accessories in this package perform at the top tier, either. Having said that, all of them do work, and work pretty well. They’re also easy to clean, simple to use, and relatively easy to transport.
So, for the price of about one aerator, you’re getting a nice little group of ad-ons, making this a pretty good choice for folks who don’t yet have any of these types of gadgets, and don’t plan on giving them more than a medium-high level of use.