Articles Tagged wine product review

Through The Past, Scholarly (March 2018 Wine Product Reviews)

Vinted on March 14, 2018 binned in wine books, wine products

For the most recent batch of wine product sample roundup articles, I’ve been focusing on reducing the pile of wine book sample copies currently littering the floor of my home office. And so for March, I am slowly whittling away at said pile by offering up two more hardcover tomes for your vinous reading consideration. You still read books, right?

French Wine A History

image: amazon.com

Firstly, we have French Wine: A History by Rod Phillips (University of California Press, 319 pages, about $30). That’s an unassuming title for a book with such an ambitious scope. Actually, its scope is bordering on insanity. Beginning from roughly 2500 years ago, Ottawa-based historian Phillips carves up the topical elephant into almost-digestible-sized time period chunks: the period before 1000 CE, the Middle Ages, through to the Enlightenment, the onset of the World Wars, etc. I say “almost” digestible because even each of those chapters is sizeable in terms of the rich historical content and context of the topic (remember, wine involves chemistry, historical events, economics, farming….).

The ground zero / linchpin moment of French Wine if there is one, after which all is forever changed, seems to be the phylloxera epidemic of the late 1800s. Like the rootstocks of its precious vines, nothing in the French wine world was ever quite the same after the country’s vineyards were decimated by that little louse.

All of this is told in dense, matter-of-fact prose, but Phillips isn’t afraid to call out others’ opinions (even somewhat challenging the venerable Hugh Johnson at one point). It’s not a fast or particularly easy read, but ultimately a worthwhile one. And its conclusion is appropriately bittersweet: France is growing fewer grape vines, producing fewer bottles, and drinking less wine than in its historical apexes, and yet the standard-bearer wines (in terms of quality and prices) are still at the top of the global game; and while we may be seeing a dip overall, the country’s vinous development has been anything but uniform, as French Wine dutifully shows us…

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All Reference Books, Great And Small (November 2017 Wine Product Roundup)

Vinted on November 8, 2017 binned in wine books, wine products
Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine 2018

image: amazon.com

This month’s wine product review roundup requires you to get your reading glasses, as we’re taking a look at two upcoming wine reference book releases, one of them tiny (and insanely useful), the other heavy and large (and maybe a lot less useful).

First up is the venerable Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine, 2018 edition (Mitchell Beazley, 336 pages, about $17). This tiny marvel is updated annually, and at this point I struggle to say anything about it that I’ve not already said in my usual yearly boot-lickingly obnoxious recommendation of this mighty mini-tome. No wine reference book series even comes close to packing as much utility into such a small package, and doing it so consistently. That I know so may of the contributors probably only makes my endorsement seem even more boot-lickingly boot-licking, but that won’t stop me from highly recommending it. Again.

In the interests of offering a balanced appraisal, I will say that the supplemental material in last year’s 2017 40th Anniversary edition is, in my view, superior to this most recent release; so if you own that one already, you may want to skip this one and see what the 2018 edition has to offer.

Next up is a new edition of the much larger, heavier, and visually impressive Larousse Wine (Hamlyn, 656 pages, about $60). Headed by technical consultant Master Sommelier Georges Lepré, with a team of contributors that are primarily French-based or French-wine-focused, you’d think that a book with 800 photographs and 37 maps would be insanely useful. And you’d be half right…

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Preservation Situation (August 2017 Wine Product Roundup)

Vinted on August 10, 2017 binned in wine products

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.

RepourFirst 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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Rack ‘Em, Stack ‘Em, Defraud ‘Em (July 2017 Wine Product Roundup)

Vinted on July 26, 2017 binned in wine books, wine products

Ultra Wine RacksIn 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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