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).
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…
As if the insert-bottle-neck-into-hole thing wasn’t enough of an innuendo, next up comes the ThermoPeanut from SensePeanut, a useful little device that looks suspiciously like a travel-sized marital aid.
The idea behind the ThermoPeanut ($29.99) is that, with the help of a free iOS or Android mobile app, allow you to monitor the ambient temperature of any surroundings in which you place it, such as a wine cellar. This can be done via the app, or on demand by pressing the concave button on the unit itself. Which will totally NOT vibrate or provide any pleasure stimulus whatsoever; I swear. Alarms can be set to sound when the temperature goes above or below user-defined thresholds. The applications for wine cellar spaces and refrigerated wine storage should be obvious.
Connection between the ThermoPeanut and your device is achieved via Bluetooth, so proximity is a bit of an issue. While the device is stylishly clever, I found myself wondering just how much more convenient this little two-inch by one-inch bugger is over a regular old thermometer. There’s no doubt that it’s handy, of course, but at this price point I’d like to see a few more features available (and no, not those kind of features that you’re thinking about… you sick little love monkey, you…).
Since multiple ThermoPeanuts can be monitored from the same app on one device, the convenience factor ramps up dramatically, I think, for retail shops, on-premise restaurant staff, and very, very wealthy people with cavernous wine cellar spaces.
5 thoughts on “Balancing Peanuts (October 2016 Wine Product Roundup)”
Regarding the ThermoPeanut from SensePeanut, see
“Young Wines Built Tough”
Thanks for that link. Dan is pretty awesome. I’ve done some crazy stuff trying to get younger wines to open up (though I’ve never resorted to the blender trick).
There is “real science” behind “why” you should swirl your glass of wine.
PART ONE OF TWO:
From The Wall Street Journal
(April 27, 1998, Section and Page Unknown):
“Breakthrough! Pulmonary Doctor Discovers Key to Wine Breathing”
By Ron Winslow
At his day job, Nirmal B. Charan is a pulmonologist in Boise, Idaho, who treats patients with such chronic lung ailments as emphysema. But a recent dinner with a cardiologist colleague from Milan led to an international experiment to investigate breathing problems of a different sort.
When Dr. Charan suggested a bottle of Idaho wine, his guest, Pier Giuseppe Agostoni, who has wine makers in his family, advised him to uncork the wine well before serving it to let it breathe and enhance its flavor. Dr. Charan replied that wine sitting in a bottle can’t breathe.
To settle the argument, the two physicians purchased five bottles of inexpensive cabernet sauvignon the next day and took them to Dr. Charan’s lab at the VA Medical Center in Boise, where he’s chief of pulmonary and critical-care medicine. Piercing the corks of each bottle with a needle, the doctors withdrew small samples of each and measured the oxygen pressure in an instrument known as an arterial blood gas analyzer. The pressure in the corked bottle measured 30 millimeters of mercury, Dr. Charan says. That compares with 90 millimeters in well-oxygenated blood.
The men then opened the bottles and repeated the tests at two-, four-, six- and 24-hour intervals. “It doubled to 61, but it took 24 hours, as opposed to when we just swirled the wine in a glass,” Dr. Charan says. For that part of the experiment, the pressure leaped to 150 as the doctors swirled the wine for just two minutes. “We became pretty good at swirling,” says Dr. Charan, who is presenting the findings Monday at a meeting of the American Lung Association/American Thoracic Society in Chicago.
Meantime, Dr. Agostoni, with proof that the bottleneck hindered good breathing, carried the experiment one step further. After returning to Milan, he invited 35 wine drinkers to a party to determine whether they could tell the difference between wine that breathed and wine that didn’t. Dr. Agostoni first asked his guests to taste wines fully aware of which had been swirled and which hadn’t. Only two were so palate-challenged that they couldn’t tell the difference.
When the remaining 33 guests were then blinded as to whether their samples had breathed or not, 32 correctly identified the samples that had higher oxygen levels and found swirled wine tasted much better than wine drunk immediately after it was corked and poured. Says Dr. Charan: “Just like blood, oxygenated wine is better than nonoxygenated wine.”
JUST FOR THE GIGGLES:
There is “real science” behind “why” you should swirl your glass of wine.
PART TWO OF TWO:
Excerpt from the Los Angeles Times “Food” Section
(May 6, 2009, Page E1ff):
“Call It Aroma Therapy for Wine”
By W. Blake Gray
Special to The Times
Air is one of the most talked about but most misunderstood elements in wine.
We say a wine needs to “breathe” as if it just needs a few minutes to freshen itself up, releasing its seductive perfume. In fact, most wines have been waiting years just to cast off a little gas.
. . . to wine researchers, “closed” means nothing. It’s just another metaphor, like saying a wine is “cheeky.”
“The word ‘closed’ does not have a physical meaning for sensory testing,” says Andrew Waterhouse, chairman of the Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis.
Further, Waterhouse says the implication that a “closed” wine is missing something is a misdiagnosis. In fact, rather than withholding scents, the wine is actually giving you something extra: sulfur compounds that are potent enough even in tiny amounts to cover up the fresh fruit aromas you want to smell.
Sulfur occurs naturally in both grapes and the yeasts that turn grapes into wine. Sulfur forms more than 100 compounds called mercaptans. These sulfuric compounds form differently and unpredictably in every bottle of wine.
When exposed to air, they eventually re-form into something less annoying, but they need a few minutes to do so. We call it “breathing,” but it’s really a seething sea of recombining elements.
“I think of wine as a tier of about 100 different compounds that are either taking on oxygen or passing it on to something else,” says Kenneth Fugelsang, associate professor of enology at Cal State Fresno. “When that process is finished, the wine is ready to drink.”
Even if you don’t smell rotting cabbage, asparagus or burnt rubber — some of mercaptan’s more noxious calling cards — sulfur compounds are still what keep you from fully enjoying wine right away.
“These reductive compounds are excellent masking agents,” Fugelsang says. “They can hide the positive characteristics of any wine.”
. . .
Waterhouse says [wine] glass design does have an effect, but mainly because of the size of the opening. A larger opening allows more aroma-laden air to accumulate above the wine.
“You have to let it sit for a few minutes to let the aroma in the liquid evaporate into the head space,” Waterhouse says.
. . .
Waterhouse points out that air is only a good thing for a while. Eventually, it will break down the wine’s perfume. For wines with interesting secondary characteristics, like most reds, this won’t happen for two or three days. But for others, it can happen much more quickly. Once a simple white wine loses its fresh fruit, it has nothing else to offer.
For the benefit of those who are unaware of “hyperdecanting” . . .
From BusinessWeek Magazine
(September 22, 2011, Section and Page Unknown):
“How to Decant Wine with a Blender”
By Nathan P. Myhrvold
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