We’re going to end the year with a bang on the Wine Product Review Roundup front, given that my travels in November necessitated that I miss that incarnation of this monthly post, and double-up on the number of products put under the review microscope. Hopefully this “holiday edition” (in terms of timing and volume, at least) will point you in the direction of a great stocking-stuffer (or two) for
your greedy-ass self that wine geek on your Nice List.
First up is a product that, to this reviewer, at least, has an incredibly limited use-case scenario: the PortoVino Wine Messenger Bag (about $70). The premise here is that someone (presumably you) needs to a) be able to tote around an entire bottle of wine, b) keep it the appropriate temperature for as long as possible, c) pour it at a moments notice without drawing attention, and d) look incredibly stylish while doing all of the above. I don’t get it, either, but the PortoVino sample that I was sent is more handsome than just about any other piece of luggage that I own. It can function as a normal cross-body messenger bag, with a well-designed and modern interior, but also contains a “secret” compartment into which 1.5L of wine can be poured via removable plastic bag, with a bag-in-box style nozzle pourer that pops out of a flap-closed area on one side of the bag. A rather pricey novelty, I suppose, but one with classic good looks. If you’re a style-minded booze-hound. OK, whatever…
Next, we’ve got Amber Revolution: How the World Learned to Love Orange Wine (Interlink Books, 304 pages, about $35), a new book by Simon J. Woolf (Author) and fiend-of-1WD Ryan Opaz (photographer). This is a beautifully constructed, deftly designed, approachable, and well-written tome with one of the most flawed premises in the history of wine writing. The bottom line is that orange wine, as a category, has not been, is not now, nor will it ever be loved by the majority of wine drinkers. Having said that, the level of acceptance of the most capable examples of that much-maligned category has never been higher, and so the release of a good book that masterfully tells the stories of the regions and producers making the best orange wines – which as heart is what Amber Revolution truly is – has never been more timely…
Another noteworthy new book release (c’mon, bear with me, I get tons of these, folks) worth checking out – and one with arguably much more broad-brush appeal for even casual wine drinkers – is Choose Your Wine In 7 Seconds: Instantly Understand Any Wine with Confidence (Universe, 228 pages, about $24) by Stephane Rosa (Author), Jess Grinneiser (Illustrator). Sure, it’s part of the ever-crowded how-to-sort-of-pick-wine-the-easy-way book market, and you’ll need your reading glasses to make out the curiously chosen undersized text in this otherwise pleasingly-designed paperback. BUT… I’ve rarely seen a choose-your-drink self-help guide with a better premise; start 30,000 feet up by dividing wines by body category (Crisp & Fruity, Powerful & Balanced, etc.), and start to zoom in like a hawk on the hunt from there by typicity of region. Along the way, each regional wine “cheat sheet” contains illustrations of the area, a sliding scale of Firmness/Heat/Crispness, food pairings, and further recommendations. 7 seconds might be a stretch, but this fun little book could very well have visual learners trying new wines in no time.
We’ll bookend (ha ha!) that recommendation with another that has an incredibly limited use-case: Deborah M. Gray’s How to Import Wine: An Insider’s Guide (Wine Appreciation Guild, 200 pages, about $25). This is the second edition of Gray’s guide, and she’s been in the importing biz for over 25 years. It reads like a brain dump of her thoughts and ideas, organized over the entire spectrum of wine importation steps – from building a portfolio, to shipping, to navigating distribution and marketing (not surprisingly, these last two thorny issues constitute the meat of the book). If that sort of sounds like a wine importation class being taught, that’s because Gray teaches the topic at San Diego State, and I suspect this book is as close to attending her class as you can get without, well, actually attending her class. Probably essential reading for those of you in the weeds (or considering entering the weeds) of the wine importing business.
Finally, we have a mini wonder of a wine preservation gadget (I know, I know…): the ZOS HALO Wine Preserver (about $65). On the surface, I should be hating on this thing: it sits awkwardly atop an open wine bottle, requires batteries for its admittedly-ckinda-cool LED halo/rim lighting (which tells you the status of the preservation and readiness of the unit), and works on cartridges that you can reuse a few times but eventually have to replace (they run about $16 per set). BUT… I set this sample up, and popped it atop another sample: a 2012 Quinta da Muradella Gorvia Blanco Monterrei, which is a white that’s already on to showing all kinds of glorious secondary and tertiary aromatic action upon release, and theoretically should have been deader than Lincoln in no time even with the help of more expensive preservation systems. Nope. After a couple of weeks with the ZOS, the Muradella tasted nearly exactly the same as the day I first opened it. It took a solid month under the ZOS in the fridgebefore the wine was on the decline. YMMV, of course, but a month of drink-ability? Daaaaaahhhhaaaammmmnnn!