Posts Filed Under wine products
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.”
When it comes to wine books, there’s a lot of printed material available that make excellent cases for protecting the world’s forest land and leaving it untouched for our children’s children’s children.
I know this because I receive those books as review copies for consideration with nearly as much frequency as I receive wine samples for consideration.
There are, of course, those wine tomes that transcend the superfluousness of their wanna-be peers, two of which I was lucky enough to receive as updated editions of products that I already though highly enough about to have purchased them on my own. With actual money and everything!
And so, those two re-releases are the focus of this month’s wine product roundup. They are works that, I think, are indispensable resources (the first for budding wine enthusiasts, and the second for anyone – consumer or pro – who loves the world of vino):
Chapter & verse
The Wine Bible, 2nd Edition (Karen MacNeil, Workman Publishing, about $30)
MacNeil’s Wine Bible holds a sentimental place in my heart, which will probably come as a shocker to anyone who has seen Karen and I interact together publicly (a sight that is almost always a strange mixture of civility and awkwardness, as I am pretty sure that she has absolutely no idea what to make of me… and I can’t say that I blame her). As I told Karen a few years ago, I used the first edition of her book as a welcome escape during the frigidly cold couple of weeks I spent in Toronto while my younger brother was having life-saving heart surgery performed there. I’ve heard many criticisms of The Wine Bible over the years, none of which I felt held much water aside from the fact that the details in it were becoming outdated, a situation now rectified in the excellent 2nd edition.
My wine career arc has more or less followed the publication history of this book, from newly-intoxicated wine consumer at its first printing, to a guy who can nitpick the shorter entries on emerging regions and play with some authority the “agree/disagree” game with some of the hand-selected wine picks in the second edition.
Thankfully, MacNeil has changed little of the two elements that really make The Wine Bible work. The first is the country-by-country format, which is ridiculously intuitive and works as one of the best wine-focused primers for which any wine newbie could ask. The second is Karen’s populist-style writing, which clearly demonstrates that she was and still is ridiculously excited about her subject; MacNeil encourages the joy behind wine exploration, which is one of the most important resources we can provide to any new wine lover.
Witness the awesomeness (image: oxfordcompaniontowine.com)
The Oxford Companion to Wine, 4th Edtion (Oxford, Edited by Jancis Robinson and Julia Harding, about $50)
With almost 200 contributors, the Oxford Companion has received a rather serious and significant once-over. As insanely authoritative and useful as this new edition is, it’s a testament to how well-executed this (altogether too heavy) reference book has been over the years that the previous edition was still my go-to wine reference book, hardly showing its age.
Sure, you can find most of the info. in the Oxford online, but what you won’t get is the killer one-two combo of attention to detail and nearly flawless prose that makes the reference such a gem (for a great example, look up the term “wine writing” therein, and try not to chuckle and its poignant accuracy and subversive cheekiness). The usefulness and depth of the information presented is without parallel (an example: after two years of working with the FurmintUSA project, there’s little background information about the grape that I don’t know at this point… two pieces of which I read in the Furmint entry in the Oxford!).
Jancis will no doubt hear the shrill sound of freshly-clipped nails grating the chalkboard when I write this, but I found a few minor typos (sorry!). Minor enough, however, that they won’t stop me from saying that if you’re involved in wine in any capacity and don’t have this book, you’re probably an idiot.
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