William Grimes laments the fact that wine geeks are so frequently the recipients of “unwanted gifts, of gizmos and gadgets,” especially this time of year. In his sites this time are mechanical corkscrews “a baroque solution to a problem that has baffled no one for the last five centuries.”
Indeed, while mechanical corkscrews may help people with limited mobility, you’re better advised to spend your money on wine and buy simple a Pulltaps (or decent stemware) instead!
“The Newfangled Corkscrew: It Comes With a Twist” [NYTimes.com]
Just when the wine auction market’s froth appeared to be blowing off, the fine wine world is bracing for some foam.
El Bulli, the famed restaurant where the entire season used to book up in minutes and futuristic dishes paraded before diners all night long, closed last year (but will reopen as the ElBullifoundation). Now, wine-searcher.com reports that the owners will be selling off the contents of the restaurant’s wine cellar.
The collection has many mature wines and it remains to be seen what the estimated 10,000 bottles will fetch at an upcoming Sotheby’s auction. But perhaps the big question for bidders as well as chef Ferran Adria and his partner Juli Soler is whether they will apply the same creativity in the sale as they did in the kitchen. Thirteen-year-old albarino may fetch one price, but what about doing the food-wine pairing for collectors and selling an essence of oyster and albarino microfoam served on the half shell? Or an orb of Corton-Charlemagne lobster? Or reformed into already-fermented grapes with “with their mad sphere-making gadgets and such“? With such an imprimatur, the wines would be harder to counterfeit.
Lifehacker ran a piece that urged readers to buy wine after Thanksgiving and during the first two weeks of December to “lock in pre-holiday bargains.” Really? Perhaps I live under a rock but I hadn’t noticed seasonal discounting that disappears as the holidays approach. Have you? Instead, I see a parade of deal-of-the-day web sites and closeout offers from wine shops–constant sales, rather than seasonal. Or the old “mark it up to mark it down” type of “sales,” which also never go out of season.
Lifehacker attributes their seasonal nugget to Food & Wine editor Ray Isle. Queried via Twitter, Ray pointed me to this original story from whence this wisdom came. He asked Jeremy Noye of Zachys for some suggestions for deals and his seasonal sale advice was limited to Champagne, not wine in general as Lifehacker stated. I have noticed some of this Champagne discounting, but it is generally later in the month, *closer* to the holidays, when stores might sell well-known brands just above cost simply to get people in the store. Anyway, if you do see Champagne on sale that you like, plug it in to wine-seracher.com and pull the trigger if it is a real deal. (Especially, eegad, what if there are shortages next year?)
I do find that it is a good time of year to buy wine accessories and stemware, as retailers smell the competition and reduce prices. I still like my Schott Zwiesel “impact resistant” glasses ($60 for a 6 pack on Amazon) and, in fact, need to reload after some met the maximum threshold of their resistance. Well, it had been a few years…
There are some fun pics from last year’s harvest festival on Madeira over on Flickr. Madeira is a fortified wine built to withstand the abuse of sea voyages, so this cask-over-the-shoulder approach is probably child’s play for the beverage.
For your, amusement caption the one to the right. While we would probably all approve of his generous pours, Max Riedel probably wouldn’t approve of the stemware…
There’s a new order at the Wine Advocate. Last month, Robert Parker announced editorial changes at the publication he founded in 1978. The moves notably included promoting Antonio Galloni to a greater role, as Galloni took over reviewing California wines from Parker himself as well as adding coverage of Burgundy (ex-Beaujolais) to his beat that already included Champagne and all of Italy.
To get to know Galloni better, I recently emailed him a few questions on a wide range of topics. He took a break from tasting in Burgundy, where he is now, to respond. His unedited replies follow below. Read more…
Advice columns this time of year frequently suggest wine gifts. Such columns often target the generalist reader who’s not that into wine but is looking for a gift to give to a wine-loving friend or relative. Flipping this model on its head, here’s what wine geeks need to give their friends and relatives who are marginally into wine: good stemware.
Yes, there’s certainly a strong argument to give them a bottle of wine itself–we certainly need plenty of it at this time of year. But wine itself can be a hit or a miss and, either way, it’s here today, empty tomorrow and, all too often, forgotten when the recycling bin is emptied. Certainly books have a tendency of sticking around longer and as the author of two wine books, I highly recommend giving the gift of wine books. A good corkscrew (such as pulltaps) is a nice touch, but really not essential since even the dreaded butterfly corkscrew can get the job done.
Thus, glasses. I think this even came up in the Bible: give a friend a bottle of wine, and you give him or her enjoyment for just one evening. But give him or her good stemware (or a good wine book for learning more about how to choose good wine!), and you will will elevate your friends’ wine enjoyment for months if not years to come. Many are under $10 a stem. Riedel makes handsome stems but, in my experience, I have found them very easy to break. Ravenscroft also has solid stems, starting at $7.50 each. And the Tritan forte Schott-Zwiesel makes a titanium infused line of crystal glasses that really does reduce breakage. And, no, you don’t need to give a different glass for each grape variety.
So go crazy and help your friends say cheers with style this holiday season with some good stemware, the best non-wine book gift that you can give to your friends and relatives who are getting into wine.
Are you wondering what to get your loved ones for the holidays? Why not get a personally inscribed copy of Dr. Vino’s guide to A Year of Wine: Perfect Pairings, Great Buys, and What to Sip for Each Season. Packed with wine picks and hailed as “witty, lively and loaded with common sense” by the Chicago Tribune, this brand new, mint condition hardback can be yours for $20–lower than the list price!
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Books ship via Priority Mail to domestic addresses; shipping is included. (For international shipping, please inquire about postage.) Use Paypal to send $20 per book with the destination address and recipient name to tyler @ drvino dot com and your order will be ship the next business day. You can use all credit cards on Paypal and it is super easy. So don’t delay for this personalized gift!
Have you ever thought, “Gee, I’d love to drink this whole bottle of wine–but not right out of the bottle since that’s not classy–and I don’t want to get up from the couch to do so.”
Then the inventors of the supersized, Kotula’s giant wine glass had you in mind! It fits an entire bottle in the glass, right up to the rim. Be sure to check out the hilarious video. (That’s also a party trick you can perform with some of the enormo glasses from Riedel or Bottega del Vino.)
A downside: you sure need a lot of Wine Away if it’s full of red wine and gets knocked over.
Related: “Big glasses make you drink more”