Posts Filed Under wine products
Photo-bomb courtesy of Lorelai Roberts
Once again with travel looming, and with a break between bouts of Alsace coverage probably not being that bad of an idea, we’re going with an early run of the monthly wine product review roundup (in which we highlight wine product samples that I receive that cannot be safely digested).
First up, we go (very) small scale with Hand-painted wine glasses by Jodi Granovsky (around $30 and up). Granovsky contacted me and offered up some examples of her work (available on Etsy), which I can now attest to striking a fantastic balance between obviously-hand-made and display-worhty-rustic-chic. As you’ll see from the inset pics, she’s fond of seasonal themes.
Generally – and it’s the case here – I don’t recommend ornamented stemware for drinking, as the designs tend to overshadow (and in some cases obscure) the true star of the gustatory show, which ought to be the wine, and cleaning something that is hand painted tends more often than not to be a pain. But if you’re looking for a pretty, high-quality gift for a wine lover on your list, these would likely find a nice spot on display somewhere in his/her home.
Next, and lastly, I was recently able to put a sample of the ArT Wine Argon Wine Preserver Spray (about $15) through the paces. The ArT is basically a can of non-toxic argon gas that you spray directly into an opened bottle of wine. Being denser than air, the argon should sink below whatever oxygen is in the bottle, protecting the unfinished wine in the bottle from oxidation (thanks, chemistry!). ArT claims a fourteen day preservation maximum; I sprayed the stuff into a half-empty bottle of Christophe Pacalet Chenas (delightful, by the way), put the ArT-provided stopper into the bottle neck, and left town for about a week. When I came back, that Chenas was still fresh-as-a-daisy drinkable (ask me how I know).
On the plus side, ArT is easy to use, it seems to work great, and the can is recyclable. The downsides: I’m not sure how the hell you will be able to tell when you’re getting low on argon in the can (ArT claims it’s good for up to 130 uses), and it’s probably the least-romantic wine preserver ever (unless you consider spraying Glade to be a romantic endeavor). Still, I can see a lot of viable uses for it, particularly on premise.
With some crazy travel happening in the short term, I’m making the executive decision to go ahead and give you the September 2017 edition of the monthly wine product review roundup a bit on the early side (rather than scrambling to get my act together on it at the end of the month, which is my usual MO).
I have some reservations about both of the non-edible products from this month’s sample pool, so let’s begin with the item sporting the fewest of saidreservations:
The Winemakers of Paso Robles by Julia Perez & Paul Hodgins (328 pages, $119)
This impressive tome, almost equal parts gorgeous photographs and Paso Robles winemaker profile pieces, began as a Kickstarter project and has seen a recent surge in media and press (within the US fine wine sphere, anyway). And when I write “impressive,” I do mean impressive. As in, Darth-Vader-in-The-Empire-Strikes-Back levels of impressive.
Perez’s stunning photos are the focus of this coffee-table book, with Hodgins’s prose providing the support. The profiles, while not exactly fluff pieces, tend towards the lifestyle-magazine tone of prose; not necessarily a bad thing, and certainly not without leaving you with a good sense of what drives the winemakers of Paso to do what they do so well. But if it’s controversy that you’re after, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
The reservation comes from the book’s size and price (and weight); all are pretty hefty. It’s not as though you’re getting ripped off – far from it – but this is a coffee table book that’s damn nearly the weight of a coffee table. In paging through it, I kept thinking that a) I can’t read this in bed, because it will crush my sternum, and b) it might behoove these guys to put out a smaller, less expensive (and lighter?) soft-back edition…
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Due to family vacationing, I’m getting a slight jump start on the monthly wine product review roundup (I’ve got plenty of wine coverage coming, so don’t worry your pretty little inebriated heads over that, ok?). And, thankfully, I’ve got two fairly-priced wine preservation gadgets from the sample pool that are absolutely worthy of your (sober) consideration.
First up is the ingenious little Repour Wine Saver (a 4 Pack runs about $9). The Repour is the brain child of chemist Tom Lutz, and employs similar oxygen-absorbing tech used in the produce industry. The idea is that the slightly top-heavy but also non-toxic repour is used in place of the bottle’s original closure after opening, and chemicals in the Repour attract most of the oxygen in the bottle, thus prolonging the life of any wine you have left over in the bottle. Effectiveness is, naturally, reduced the longer you leave the bottle unstopped, and the more open space that’s left in the bottle, etc.
The Repour was run through some independent lab tests, has the nod from some sommeliers and wine pros, and in my limited experience works, almost too well, causing some of the wines I “Repoured” to close up temporarily. The only real drawback is that the Repour is a one-and-done product (you basically use one per bottle) and needs to be discarded after each bottle is finished. It will definitely get you several extra days of drinking from an open bottle of vino; the company claims that you can get up to a month, but anyone who is doing that either doesn’t known how to sell wine (in on premise settings) or doesn’t know how to drink it (in consumer settings)…
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In this too-steamy month’s round up of non-drinkable wine product samples, I’ve got two items to highlight that I can recommend without nary a reservation; and for me, when it comes to putting wine products to the test, that’s the wine scribe’s equivalent of a tall, cold glass of Soave on a hot Summer’s day.
First up is one of the Wall Mounted Wine Racks by Ultra Wine Racks (about $75); they sent me the 3ft x 1 (wine bottle) deep version, but there are several configurations from which you can choose (though the options that are multiple bottles “deep” are probably best employed in retail, restaurant, or wine cellar/storage spaces).
The bottom line is that these mostly-metal wall-mounted puppies are well-made, sturdy, and look great once installed (note that the larger you go on these racks, the more important it will be to find a stud on which to mount them… holy crap, that whole sentence fragment sounds mildly, obnoxiously sexual, doesn’t it?). Installation is relatively straightforward, but will definitely require a level, and will go much faster if you have a second person (ask me how I know) to help stabilize the racks when positioning them for the mounts, etc.
What I liked most about the Ultra Wine Rack kit was that, with the exceptions of a drill and a screwdriver, it comes with everything that you need to install and maintain it, including anchors, spare parts, and even a screwdriver drill bit, just in case. If you’re in the market for combining wine storage with some crowing/showing-off of special bottles as a side benefit, then you should take a serious look at these…
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