15 Jun 2010
Here are seven wine accessories you don’t have that you may find helpful. These also make the perfect gift for any wino on your gift list for upcoming weddings, birthdays, or special occasion. Several weeks ago, I was approached by wine accessory site, True Fabrications about helping promote their site. They were very accommodating in providing a Vinturi Deluxe Aerator Kit for me to review and one to give away. Now, we’re giving away a $50 gift card to their site. (DISCLOSURE: DrinkNectar is not receiving compensation for this promotion, only providing a gift card to one lucky reader).
I thought I would poke around the Tru Fabrications site to see how it was laid out, what kind of products they offered and to see if there was anything I couldn’t live without. Below are seven wine accessories that I bet you don’t have! (If you have one, let me know in the comments).
As far as the site goes, it is easy to navigate and checking out if very quick, simple and secure (only a few screens). The site design leaves a little to be desired as far as creativity but the information that I need on each item is easily accessible. Tru Fabrications selection is about 450 items. Upon closer examination a good percentage of those items consisted of gift bags, tags, and bottle openers. If you’re looking for a good selection of general re-usable items, then TrueFabrications.com is a good place to start.
Details on how to win are below!
Plush Star Red Wine Bag:
Wine makes the perfect gift, but wrapping a bottle of wine can be a challenge. Using a good quality gift bag becomes part of the gift as they can be re-used by the recipient. If you’re helping out a hobo, use a brown paper bag. If you want to add a touch of class, go with a wine gift bag! PRICE: $4.99 ea
Wine Wipes Teeth Cleaner:
Nothing says lush like purple stained teeth. Don’t let your Malbec or Syrah ruin your special occasion pictures. These wine wipes remove stains and cleanse the palate. Each pack contains 20 wipes and a mirrored case. Perfect for the corporate lunchtime imbiber. PRICE: $6.99
Golf Wine Glass Charms:
Perfect for the duffer drinker in your Friday foursome. Avoid picking up the wrong wine glass with these handsome pewter golf themed wine glass charms. Adorn your stemware with a golf ball, cart, clubs, and more. PRICE: $8.99
Private Preserve Wine Preserver:
This is not a tool we use in our home. The wine bottle seems to find itself empty fairly quickly. However, for those going three – four days per bottle, this argon blend gas will displace the oxygen in the bottle with a quick spray, giving you added life to your wine. One bottle will preserve up to 120 bottles of wine. PRICE: $10.59
Glass Cleaning Brushes:
Ever tried shoving your man hands in a Chardonnay glass? Avoid accidental cracking by using these no scratch foam glass cleaning brushes. They’re flexible and can reach where your hands can’t. PRICE: $11.99
Air Dry Wine Glass Drying Rack:
Perfect for drying and storing wine glasses in a safe way. Avoid spotted glasses with good airflow during drying. Keep your glasses out of harm’s way from the pots and pans in your dish drain. Display your fancy glasses with pride on your counter. PRICE: $15.49
Red Blind Wine Tasting Kit:
Nothing says party animal like blind wine tasting! Impress your wino friends with this professional kit including four felt lined bags, set of four numbered wine charms, and four numbered coasters. Host a party and test your palate. PRICE: $29.99
HOW TO WIN $50
Winner announced Friday 6/18
Okay, let’s be serious, you’re really here because you’re greedy and you want to win $50. To qualify, leave a comment. I’d love to hear what you think about the www.TrueFabrications.com web site or any really cool wine accessories that you can’t live without!
19 May 2010
“It looks like a sculpture.” “What are those mesh things…does that thing have speakers?!” These were the reactions from the wife and the boy when I set up the Vinturi Deluxe Aerator. When wino friends showed up later that evening for wine and dessert, they ooohed and ahhhed, exclaiming, “I’ve got to have one!” I’m not sure paying $80 for a conversation piece is worth it, but I have paid more for things that are far more useless and look way less cool!
So, why would you possibly be in the market for a Vinturi Aerator? Simple…in a word…impatience. We live in an impatient, instant gratification world. Here is what I mean. A lot of good red wine is not meant to be bought and consumed instantly. Patience is required to properly cellar the wine so that the tannins soften and the wine matures with 3-10 years of aging. Can’t wait…decanting can help. Decanting is the process of pouring the wine into a glass enclosure that allows maximum exposure of oxygen to the wine. Decanting a wine for 1-3 hours can significantly blow off a dusty earth, cork or oak smell and can also soften the strong chalky tannin found in a lot of big red wine. Don’t have time to wait 1-3 hours? Insert the Vinturi Aerator.
The Vinturi is a clever funnel devise that has two narrow holes at the funnel base that draws air into the wine before it enters your glass (see the video for cool close up). From the PR material: “We’ve found the Vinturi to be effective in enhancing aromas, flavors, and finish of virtually every red wine. The amount of improvement depends on the wines quality, age and variety.”
So, does it work? I haven’t done exhaustive research but with the three wines that I have tried I can conclusively and definitively say…I THINK SO. The aerated wine was more open in flavor and aroma. The most expensive wine (not on video) benefited the most. The wine was good before the Vinturi but it was something special after going through the modern art sculpture.
The Vinturi Deluxe comes with a cool table top base and stand to hold the actual aerator. There is also a nifty travel bag for when you want to be the ultimate wine geek and take your fancy toy to wine parties (be prepared to be mocked). The Vinturi is available for under $50, the deluxe kit is available for $80. Personally, I think it’s a pretty cool gift idea for the wino that has everything.
ATTENTION – THIS CONTEST IS OVER (5/31)
Do you want a FREE VINTURI AERATOR
The fine folks at True Fabrications (did you catch the nifty play on words there) – provided me with this sample to review and they want to give ONE LUCKY reader one to try too (free shipping too). True Fabrications is a pretty cool wine accessory shop. They’ve got some pretty fantastic things for entertaining, picnics, parties, and gifts. Once you’re done entering the contest, hop on over to their web site and look around. Here is how you enter to win. Leave a comment on this post. Your email address will remain confidential and you won’t be added to any list. One winning comment will be selected on Friday afternoon for the Vinturi Deluxe Aerator kit.
Watch the video, you’ll see it in action AND there are two wine reviews too.
NV Whitestone Winery Pieces of Red
- The Stuff: Proprietary blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon; Estate fruit from Lake Roosevelt Whitestone Vineyard; 13.5%abv; Cork Enclosure
- The Swirl: Dark purple with hints of deep brown highlights. Has a semi-aged wine look with jewel tone edges
- The Sniff: Bight berry fruit with spicy pepper and a hint of cooking spices (all spice)
- The Sip: Elegant and beautiful flavor profile. The fruit is a little thin on the front palate with a ton of action happening on the back side of the mouth. Nice acidity and a lingering finish
- The Score: At $17 I can easily score this wine a 3+ out of 5. It would work for sipping or pair well with grilling, big steaks, pork, pasta and pizza. A fantastic every day red wine.
2007 Duck Pond Cellars Red Blend
- The Stuff: 48% Merlot 30% Syrah and 22% Cab from Desert Wind and Sacajawea Vineyards; aged 14 months in French and American new oak; 14.5%abv
- The Swirl: Bright purple that dances out toward the edges with beautiful jewel tones; Deep and rich with about 90% opacity
- The Sniff: Upon first sniff the wine was oak first then layers of dark berries. Most other aromas were covered by the oak. After aeration, the wine opened up a little more to present a good pepper spice.
- The Sip: A slight sweet cherry fruit on the front palate with a woodsy chalkiness that settles on the back part of the tongue. Moderate acidity with subtle vanilla and cocoa spices on the finish.
- The Score: A fairly complex wine with good structure. Leading with heavy oak keeps this one from scoring high. It’s a great value and a wine for lots of occasions. Better with food. I score it a 3+ out of 5.
11 May 2010
WELCOME GUEST BLOGGER Joshua Sweeney
A favorite saying among online wine reviewers is that wine is a journey, not a destination. What this means is that we should be drinking wine for the experience of it, not the effect.
When you’re in college (and this is the cliché that we always fall back on, as if there aren’t discerning drinkers pursuing a higher degree), quaffing whatever beverage loaded with a high alcohol percentage is proffered to us, any plastic cup filled from any jug, cooler, bathtub, or keg will do. Once we move beyond the destination of drinking to get drunk into the realm of appreciating the nuances of a beverage with a secondary benefit of a buzz, the need for implements becomes more apparent.
Essentially, wine needs outside help to reach its potential.
First, a quick note on corkscrews. Any old thing that gets the wine open works, obviously, but some old things work better than others. In my experience, the two reliable wine-opening tools are waiter’s friends and lever models. Both give you the most control over how the cork comes out, preventing breaking and crumbling of the cork. Wing corkscrews and self-pull corkscrews, because of their nature, have a higher risk of damaging the cork and dropping bits of it into the wine.
Also, because the use of synthetic corks is increasing, it’s imperative that you have two kinds of corkscrews: one with a stainless-steel worm and one with a Teflon worm.
Teflon worms are remarkably easier for removing real cork, and are reliable for hundreds of openings, but their coating gets scraped off and damaged by synthetics.
Stainless steel works perfectly fine on synthetics, but they tend to grip real cork, making it a real pain to remove real cork from them.
You can get a waiter’s friend with either style for less than $10 to back up your primary cork-removing option.
While wine professionals and scientists alike perpetually argue about whether the shape or size of a glass influences the different types of wine differently, there does seem to be a consensus on one attribute of an adequate wine glass: the rim. The best wine glass will have a thin rim, delivering the wine most efficiently into your mouth and remaining unobtrusive as you sip. Thicker rims will affect the dispersion of the wine, causing it to miss the most ideal parts of your tongue for tasting.
As for the size and shape of a wine glass, it seems a tulip-shaped, fairly large glass is the safe option. This leaves you with room to swirl the wine vigorously without splashing out of the glass and gives you a narrower opening to concentrate the escaping aromas for your enjoyment.
Remember that you want to fill the glass only to the widest part of the glass. It’s the laws of physics at work. Tasting glasses will widen near the bottom first, room for only an ounce or so of wine, so those will not be ideal sippers.
Stemmed vs. stemless? All up to you. Stemmed glasses are much, much easier to break due to their larger profile, fragile nature, and higher center of gravity. Stemless glasses force you to hold the glass by the bowl, increasing the radiant heat that you transfer to your wine. Either style has its advantages.
There are insulating and cushioned slipcovers for stemware out there, but they limit your ability to see the wine in the glass and sometimes get in the way of your bottom lip when sipping. Again, advantages on all sides.
Oh, I almost forgot about Champagne glasses. While the argument that the shape of glass doesn’t matter may ring true for flat wine, on sparkling wine, you definitely want the narrower flute-style to accommodate the carbonation. Drinking Champagne in a regular wine glass is like drinking beer from a salad bowl (something you may also do in college).
A more complex consideration for your wine is storage. If you’re the kind of person who purchases wines to be consumed that night or that week, but you still want to display them, a decorative 4 to 6 piece display is all you need. If you plan to age wine, or you have a large variety of wines rotating in and out of service, a larger rack is required. You can get standing table racks that hold around 12 bottles and cellar-style racks that hold between 40 and 100 bottles. Bear in mind that the more bottles a rack holds, the less decorative and intricate it necessarily has to be.
Consider this: if you buy a wine that needs to age 3 years, that means that spot is effectively gone from your rack for at least 3 years. If you invest in a wine like this every 3 months, you will have 9 spots perpetually out of service on your rack, and that’s if you diligently pop the cork on a wine right when it peaks. On a 12 bottle rack, that means you only have 3 spots free for any bottles you’ll be purchasing on top of that.
As far as where you should be storing your wine? We have wine cellars and not wine attics or wine sunrooms for a reason: wine needs a cool, consistent temperature and minimal exposure to sunlight. Heat and sunlight negatively affect the quality of wine.
Heat makes wine more volatile, causing chemicals to react and change within the bottle much more quickly, defeating the purpose of aging them.
Sunlight (ultraviolet light, specifically) also induces chemical reactions in wine. Both are blamed for ultimately “cooking” the flavor of the wine.
A dark, cool room, perpetually in shade and around 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit) will keep your wine in the best condition. Absent having an actual cellar, some sort of closet or cabinet far from sources of heat will do in a pinch. Air-conditioning to keep wine exactly at 10 degrees Celsius is helpful but unnecessary for all but the longer-term cellaring projects (5+ years).
Aeration and Decanting
The debate over aeration rages ever onward. Purists insist it dramatically alters the flavor of wine in ways the winemaker didn’t intend while another school of thought swears by the convenience and effectiveness. My personal experience with them? They’re perfectly fine for most cheaper wines, but aerating a wine that doesn’t need it (young, crisp, sweet whites come to mind) can have a negative impact on their flavor. To be safe, I recommend decanting wines over $20.
The ideal aerator works in one of two ways. One will have a narrow choke point with vents for pulling in air to mix with the wine. The other will have a decanter-like pouring surface or bubble to spread out the wine and simulate decanting in small amounts at a time. You should be able to get an aerator in either of these styles for less than $50.
If you have a wine that needs to breathe for a couple hours, you want to invest in a decanter. Decanters can run from the cheap, under $10, to the ridiculously expensive (gold-lined, hand-blown, uniquely designed for hundreds of dollars). Any investment on those fronts are largely aesthetic.
A wide base, offering a larger surface area on the wine is always good, as is a narrow, blooming mouth for pouring.
A punt (indentation) in the bottom will help ring out sediment, but on most wines that’s unnecessary.
If the opening is excessively narrow, some sort of funnel made from an inert material (stainless steel, silver, medical-grade plastic or rubber) will be necessary for pouring the wine into the decanter.
There are dozens of other accessories that are a worthy investment for wine drinkers, but the ones I outlined above are inexpensive, beneficial considerations for enjoying your wine. Any comments about the accessories I listed above? Any questions about other accessories I didn’t address? Leave a comment here or contact me directly. I’ll be happy to answer what I can.
About the Author
Joshua Sweeney is the Head of Online Retail and Senior Buyer for wine(accessorized). He worked his way up from humble beginnings, packing orders for a wine accessories company in a warehouse, during which he developed a keen interest in the wide variety of accessories available for wine. When wine(accessorized) began to take shape in December of 2009, he was tapped to help design and market the website and select the items that would be sold. He is focused on finding functional and interesting accessories that are affordable to average wine consumers such as himself.
Josh also writes for wine(explored), a wine blog affiliated with wine(accessorized). There, he chronicles his love of local wines in North Carolina and Virginia as well as his passion for discovering wine bargains and unusual wines. He embraces his role as a young professional and desires to help make his Millennial generation the greatest generation of wine consumers ever. Josh graduated from Virginia Tech with an English degree focused in both Literature, Linguistics, and Culture and Creative Writing.