The April edition of the wine products round-up brings us two new items from the sample pool, both of which I can recommend with some reservations. How’s that for an endorsement?!?
First up is the Vinturi Champagne Opener. Yes, you read that correctly. Vinturi has branched out from their popular aerator, and now has a small armory of wine-related gadgets tempting the dollars from the confines of your wallet. Today’s victim of my in-house-testing is sold only via Williams-Sonoma, and will set you back about $35.
The first thing you notice about the Vinturi Champagne Opener, aside from its shininess, and its resemblance to marital aids… okay, the third thing that you notice about it is that it’s heavy. This is a solidly-constructed bit of wine gadgetry, and I wouldn’t want to have this item dropped onto my toes. I will rank its hardy construction as a plus.
Essentially, it’s a twist-off wine opener designed exclusively for sparkling wines; you remove the foil, cage, and cap from your bubbly, and while being careful to keep your fingers out of any of the openings, put the Vinturi on top of the bottle and twist until you hear a “pop” (trust me, you won’t miss the signal; it’s loud). The cork can then be extracted from the upper opening of the Vinturi.
The thing works, and works well. I’m a little concerned about the aggressiveness of its functionality, however; it’s often said that the opening of a sparkling wine should sound as delicate as “a nun’s fart,” and this certainly is not nun-flatulent-like. It’s a loud pop, and whenever I hear that sound, I envision extra bubbles – for which we usually pay extra! – escaping unnecessarily.
Personally, I’m find using a towel and my own hands to pop open my bubbly, so the Vinturi might be of limited use unless you a) plan on opening a lot of bubbly, or b) have a physical issue that makes the traditional method of opening bubbly difficult for you, or c) are a wuss.
Anyway… on to our next “with reservations” item…
…which is Jeffrey Schiller’s short (all of 126 pages, about $15) but useful book Wine Hack (Wine Education That Starts with Your Mouth, Not with Your Head).
Schiller has a way with prose (and with well-selected chapter-opening quotes) that give the impression of someone who takes the wine tasting craft seriously without taking himself too seriously, so I might have been predisposed to like this little beginners’ guide to tasting wine.
The hack is an ingenious little method for getting your head around wine tasting profiles, utilizing the acronym BOSS (for Body, Oak, Sweet, and Sour). It’s a nifty trick for those just getting their footing in the wine world.
The strength of Schiller’s approach is that this method simplifies wine tasting; the drawback is that this method simplifies wine tasting. Actually, it over-simplifies wine tasting a bit; there’s little danger in that for the beginner, however if one never graduates from that point, s/he would be missing out on the almost infinite amount of subtlety and subtext that fine wine has to offer. Recommended, but with the cautionary note that this book is a helpful aid at the beginning of a journey into wine, and not an end-game.