Posts Filed Under wine products
After the success of last week’s wine product roundup (why aren’t you people so free with your coinage when I ask you to donate to charities?), I figured I’d get an early lead on the October edition of the rummaging through of my product samples. Be forewarned, the selections aren’t cheap, but they are well worth a serious look-see.
First up, is yet another wine opener (I know… I know…). Before you throw up in your mouth, hear me out on this one: the Vinomaster Screwpull (about $45) has totally relegated my old “rabbit-style” opener to the bench for the foreseeable bottle-popping future.
While I like the rabbit-style action for fast cork extraction (particularly if you’re opening several bottles at a time), I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve nearly killed myself trying to stabilize the bottle while using that opener (this is for those instances where clamping the bottom of the bottle in my crotch would be considered socially awkward). The Vinomaster not only works like a charm for yanking corks, it also looks pretty good, feels very sturdy, and the design allows you get a firm grip on the bottle without having to employ crotch-stabilization techniques. The included foil-cutter is more run-of-the-mill, unfortunately, but that doesn’t spoil the excellence of the screwpull itself.
Next, there’s yet another wine aerator (again, mouth-puking should be withheld for a moment or two, if possible). I should first tell you that I’ve yet to encounter a wine accessory that’s more fun to use than the Aervana (about $100), which is billed as the world’s first electric wine aerator. While I haven’t researched it enough to challenge that claim, I have employed a modicum of aeration testing on the thing, and was thrilled with the results (particularly on younger, more tannic reds). The thing actually has a lot going against it: it’s pricey; it works great, but not exceptionally greater than much less expensive aerators (for my buck, the Soiree still wears the crown in that department when it comes to the price/results ratio); it’s a little top-heavy; it’s a little on the noisy side; and it requires six (!) batteries to run it, which is probably more than most marital aids.
BUT… There is no denying the fun to be had in using it. In my household, no one, including children, would let me get away with not showing them how it worked after catching a glimpse of it sitting atop an open bottle. Once you press the button on the top, and the whirring starts up, and the wine starts pouring out of the attached spout, it’s awesome. And the novelty doesn’t wear off quickly, either; it stays fun (though that might have as much to do with increased wine consumption as a result of using it as it does anything else). The second-best part? Cleaning the Aervana is almost as much fun as aerating wine with it (rinse the empty bottle, fill it up with clean water, and run the aerator again – brilliant!).
Since closing out my Answers.com gig back in June of this year, I have found myself still inundated with wine product/accessory/gizmo samples (I’ve totally given up on trying to keep samples to a manageable number), but without a convenient (and conveniently highly trafficked) outlet with which to share the better or more interesting of those products.
And so I’m breaking a loooooooong streak of avoiding wine product mentions here on 1WD, so that I can give you a gander at a couple of the vinous accessories that tickled my… whatever it is for wine geeks that gets tickled when they get to play with accessory samples.
Barvivo (image: Barvivo)
First up is a corkscrew, which at first blush sounds boring, but I’ve personally been fascinated by these bizarre more-or-less-single-purpose tools ever since researching their surprisingly interesting backstory for a PUBLIX Grape article I penned last year. Right now, I’m full-on a fan of the “hinged” waiter’s friend style of corkscrew, so I was pretty jazzed to try out a sample of Barvivo’s take on that design. This little number works like a charm, has the double-hinge action that I’ve grown to find invaluable, and it looks classy as hell.
I’m not accusing them of slave labor, but I’ve no idea how they managed such high production quality for such a low price. As of the time of this writing, they’re offering a coupon deal, which makes the corkscrew a total steal.
When I was contacted by the founder of Vivajennz, I wasn’t sure what to make of the idea of her product, which is basically an “up-style” of wine in a bag. “This is either going to be brilliant,” I thought, “or completely stupid.”
Surprise! We’ve got vino, beeatches! (image: Vivajennz)
Turns out that the result is somewhere in between, but I’m finding that I like the idea of the messenger-bag version of this wine tote more and more. The short version of the story behind Vivajennz is that instead of using a collapsible pouch for transporting your favorite vino to an event or gathering, you instead put it into a pouch, to which a dispensing nozzle/tap is affixed, and which all fits into one of the stylish, insulated bag designs. Open a flap on your way-cool bag, and take a tap to fill a glass; and boom, presumably, you’re the hit of the party.
The overall design isn’t the most practical, but I really like that the bag does double-duty (in the case of my sample, the messenger bag is perfectly capable on its own for acting as, well, a messenger bag, and it looks great). Might be worth checking out for the style lover / wine guzzler in your life.
Today, we take a brief break from talking about wine as art, and instead talk briefly about wine as art subject.
I get contacted by many people with wine product ideas who would like a shot at getting their wares featured or reviewed on the virtual pages here. A not-insignificant percentage of those products find their way into a heap in my basement, either proving to be too useless, too frustrating, or aesthetically disastrous enough not to make the cut.
A pleasant exception is “PROST” by self-taught pointillism (remember George Seurat from art class, folks?) artist Elizabeth Bollwitt.
I’ve never met Bollwitt, and was unaware of her work, but she’s a 1WD fan and sent me a poster print of her “PROST” painting, shown inset above. I absolutely loved it at first cardboard-tube-opening-and-unraveling. Personally, I despise art that is obviously descriptive, preferring more abstract interpretations that give the viewer at least some means of participation in completing the experience of witnessing what the art is attempting to do/convey/capture. So for me, Rockwell (despite the obvious talent) is pure and total hell, while Nude Descending a Staircase is genius oft he highest friggin’ order. No surprise then that I would be drawn to Bollwitt’s deft use of the pointillism technique, and the colorfully abstract rendering of an overly-enthusiastic, drunken “cheers!” moment.
According to her website, canvas reproduction of Bollwitt’s “PROST” will be on display at V. Sattui Winery in Napa Valley, so if you’re in the area I’d suggest checking it out (or just order yourself a reprint on poster or canvas, if you find yourself compelled to hang it up in your home, as I did).
I was recently contacted by the folks over at Etching Expressions, a service that provides custom etched wine bottles and personalized wine labels, complete with vino in bottle.
They wanted to send me a sample, but not for the usual reason of hoping that it might turn into a formal review. No, this was to potentially counter a review of their products that I penned back in June… of 2009.
In that post, I gave high marks the top-notch bottle etching that EE pulled off (a custom job, by the way, using one of the 1WD t-shirt logos). I gave not-so-high marks to the generic plonk of a wine that they used to fill that sample bottle.
And there, my friends, was the rub.
It seems that on the Global Interwebs (and no, I will NOT stop using that dorky phrase anytime soon), reviews can get to be sticky matters. Which is one of the reasons, I think, that wine and product producers of all stripes clamor to get folks on the web with half-decent following to cover their products: these things live virtually (in both senses of the word) forever. Of course, the double-edge of the sword that cuts you is the negative review that happens to get published, which is probably why most people steer clear of the negative stuff (I myself have just found too much good shiz to tell you about lately, making the potential negative coverage a lot more difficult to justify in terms of taking up virtual real estate here on 1WD). In this case, EE couldn’t seem to get a Google search result without my less-than-stellar 2009 review popping up front-and-center; not great for brand perception on-line, I suppose.
And so I gave EE the okay to send me another product sample for possible review, and told them I’d amend the previous review to account for the fact that their vino selection had been substantially upgraded in the years between my visits. And I can tell you that I was more than pleasantly surprised by what I found both outside and inside that new sample…
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