Posts Filed Under wine products
I’ve been inundated with wine book samples this month (which I’ll note is November 2016, for posterity’s sake, and for those of you still sobering up from Thanksgiving), both the electronic and the good, old-fashioned dead-tree varieties. And so, I’m going to use this edition of the wine product roundup to give you a little taste of the current wine book scene (all prices noted are for hardcover editions).
Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine 2017: 40th Anniversary by Hugh Johnson ($16.99, Mitchell Beazley)
Bottom line: highly recommended.
Every year for the last several years, I’ve received a sample of the latest edition in this series. Every year for the last several years, I think that this insanely useful little gem cannot possibly get any more insanely useful. Every year for the last several years, I have been wrong, and 2016 continues the trend. The high bar that’s been set for this go-to reference book for the last forty years has predictably been matched, but I’d argue it’s also been exceeded, in that the “If you like this, try that” and “wine stories” article themes that have been reserved for this edition’s color pages sections are superb (and make the book even more useful). If you’ve skipped the last couple of editions, it’s time for an upgrade.
The 24-Hour Wine Expert by Jancis Robinson ($12.95, Abrams Image)
Bottom line: recommended, with reservations.
It’s not that The 24-Hour Wine Expert isn’t a very good wine book; it is, and Jancis Robinson brings her sharp prose and equally sharp mind to pop many a wine myth balloon within its short 112 pages. The idea, espoused by Robinson in the opening Welcome section, is to use the book to answer common wine questions (how is wine made?, how should one buy wine?, what hardware should be used?, etc.) as they come up. The trouble is, the book is positioned in a way that leverages the very kinds of sweeping generalizations and shortcuts that Robinson has spent nearly her entire career in the public spotlight battling against, and ignores a more comprehensive wine knowledge resource of which Robinson has become a particularly skilled champion: the Internet. There’s useful information here, no doubt, but the usefulness of a hardcover copy is debatable…
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It’s once again time for the monthly wine product roundup here on 1WD, in which I delve into the sample pool of wine-related items that cannot actually be physically absorbed without serious risk of injury or death. Kind of like the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Anyway, this month brings us two totally-unrelated products, both of which I can recommend, but not without caveats (because, hey, that’s just the kind of gal that I am).
image: BalVino Productions
The first item comes to us courtesy of BalVino Productions who, incidentally, are also offering a 10% discount on orders for 1WD readers (if you use the promo code 1WD2016 when ordering before December 31, 2016). BalVino is a family outfit run by Jeff Burnett in Indiana, who crafts those insert-the-wine-bottle-neck-into-the-hole stands that can then be balanced if set on a flat, level surface.
Despite the too-clever-for-its-own-good company name, I thoroughly admired the quality and craftsmanship that went into the samples of the BalVino ($15.99 – $39.99, depending on the model) sent to me (one of which has a slot with a waiter’s friend corkscrew cleverly attached via magnet inside of it), both of which were hewn out of gorgeous cuts of wood. Personally, these types of balanced holders scare the bejeezus out of me, because I’m constantly worried that I’ll knock them over, but it takes a really good shove to get these things tipping if properly used…
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Squeaking this one in juuuust under the wire, here’s the August 2016 edition of the wine product roundup, in which I highlight non-drinkable wine products from the ever-growing sample pool.
Annoyingly, I’m not going to actually be reviewing this month’s products, only mentioning and recommending them. This is due to the fact that said products – both of them upcoming book releases – were authored by people that I consider to be wine writing friends and colleagues; so the potential conflicts of interest are of war-torn Bosnian proportions.
The first is American Rhone: How Maverick Winemakers Changed the Way Americans Drink ($35, University of California Press), by Patrick Comiskey. The only thing that I don’t like about Patrick’s upcoming book is the lack of the word “that” in the title. I’ve known Patrick for several years now, though our paths cross far too seldom. In this new book, he takes on the struggles of the people behind the movement to produce and promote wines made from Rhone varieties grown in the U.S.
Comiskey has a skeptical reporter’s mind, a poet’s way with turns of phrase, an editor’s sense of conservation of words, and a keen (and deep) understanding of – and respect for – wine as a subject matter, all of which come to bear in American Rhone. I’ll just leave it at that…
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Given that, at the time this publishes, I will be on the road (yeah… again…), this seemed like an apt time to dive into the non-liquid portion of the sample pool, and offer up the July 2016 incarnation of the Wine Product Roundup. This month, there are no drinking vessels in the lineup, but the printed word does again make an appearance (because, well, writing).
First up under the review microscope is Bee Smart Gear’s Bottle Protector (about $20 for a pack of 3). Generally, I like to refer to these types of products as “bottle condoms,” since they serve a similar purpose: physical protection, and prevention of leakage (sorry; yeah, I went there).
I am a fan of these products (talking about the wine bottle protectors now), because I have used just about all of them in real-life, checked-baggage scenarios and I can personally attest to their efficacy. In Bee Smart’s case, you slip the bottle neck-first into the bottom of the protector, being sure that the internal bubble-wrap covers the entire bottle (you can fit a 750ml or smaller into these). You then close the double zip-locks at the bottom, roll up the end, and connect the velcro straps.
The bubble wrap provides ample protection, provided that you pack the bottle intelligently (aim for the center of your suitcase, with plenty of dirty undies on all sides). If there is a break, the bags almost always provide great leak protection; in fact, if you enclose a full bottle into one of these, and smash it with a hammer, in my experience it won’t leak unless the bag is punctured (I do not recommend trying that at home, by the way)… Read the rest of this stuff »