Jet Bag Defeats AA at WBC11

I do a lot of traveling for wine.  Just the last 6 months has seen me pop up in New York twice and Charlottesville once.  Strangely enough, this means that I tend to accumulate a fair amount of wine during my travels (I know, cue the weeping and lamentations).  This does tend to present a Conundrum, however.  When one needs to fly these days, it tends to be very difficult to hide 750 mL of glass-encased liquid.

OK, but that’s fine, right?  I’ll just check my baggage with the bottle of red stashed inside…surrounded by all of my favorite clothes because I just went to NYC for the first time.  Hmm…not a recipe for success, especially as I watched the suplex being applied to my suitcase out on the tarmac.  Cue: the Jet Bag (Twitter).

I received a couple sample Jet Bags in the mail just under four months ago, from Spread the News PR.  I had planned to write a more extended article about this great product and was waiting for the perfect time to test out the Jet Bags.  Along comes procrastination WBC11 and I realize, bingo!  I always get a tons of vino at those awesome conferences, let’s bring them on the trip!  There’s nothing like a real life test scenario to well, realistically test things out.  Coming back, exhausted, from Virginia, I was subjected to American Airlines definition of flight-canceling weather at O’Hare in Chicago.  Never mind that no other airline appeared to be even delayed and my (slightly) discounted hotel for the few hours of no sleep night was mystified in regards to the supposed weather conditions (the Hyatt Regency O’Hare (Twitter) ROCKED, btw).  All this means is that my poor luggage was beat up much more than normal and most likely sweltering all night out in a non-temperature controlled warehouse somewhere.

All that said, after I got home for work and could unpack, I discovered that my fantastic sample of 2005 Tabarrini Montefalco Colle Grimaldesco Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG (garnering an OldWorldWK badge) Italian red was perfectly safe and insulated.  Very impressive.  And it’s actually the simplicity of this wine product that allows me to finish this article in way under 500 words.

Open the bag, place the bottle inside the absorbent, insulated bag, close the Ziploc and place it in your luggage.  Done.

I couldn’t be more pleased and thrilled to say that they’re also reusable.  Starting at $15 for 3, they throw down some good value. A complete win!  Check out their video of a Jet Bag in action.  Cheers!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZt5_5PrYTY&feature=channel_video_title[/youtube]

 

Guest Post: 4 Must-Have Wine Accessories

Wine Accessories

I’m debuting a new series of guest articles on Vinopanion today, starting with this fine wine accessory intro article by Zsa Zsa Bacaling of Grotto Cellars.  These free guest posts will provide a bit of a fresh voice every now and then for you devoted readers who, like my family, get tired of hearing me blather on and on about my vino obsession.  This first article by Zsa Zsa delivers some great advice for the newbie wine fanatic, something that I have somewhat neglected over the ~3 years of my Vinopanion writings.  Cheers!

Let the right accessories add to your wine appreciation experience

Can the right accessories really add to the wine lover’s experience? Definitely.

Whenever you shop for wines, don’t forget to include wonderful wine accessories. There are plenty of interesting accessories in the market today that can add style and spice to your wine cellar. From stemware to wall art, to aerators, charms and humidifying fountains, there’s no reason you can’t add some visual delight to the wine bottles you’re breaking open.

For every wine enthusiast, there’s always a creative contraption made to enhance your wine storing and pouring experience. We’ve seen some beautiful, custom made cellar doors, rolling wine cellar ladders, decorative flooring and ceilings, special lighting and tables and chairs for those wine tastings.

Did you know that several stores sell classy wine accessories without selling any wine at all? This simply shows that the demand for wine accessories is huge. Whether you’re buying for yourself or for someone you know, wine accessories also make fantastic gift ideas. Here are some of our highly recommended wine accessories that every wine lover must have in his/her wine cellar:

Wine glasses

A good wine glass is nearly as important as the wine itself. For the wine newbie, a good wineglass will help you appreciate the flavor, depth and aroma of your wine. There’s a glass for every occasion! Just make your wine glasses are not frosted, colored or cut, so you can see the wine clearly in all its beauty. Pick the right one for you, and if you plan to use the glasses for wine tasting rather than drinking, make sure that you have many identical glasses. To enjoy the full experience of wine consumption, drink to a glass partially filled and held by the stem. Cheers!

Wine decanters

Want the best from your wine? Then you get yourself a wine decanter. Contrary to the belief that decanting wines is not just for show, if you want to avoid an unsightly looking wine to the table, you need to decant your wine into a resplendent receptacle. Wines which have aged in bottle, typically reds rather than white, will generally throw a sediment by ten years of age or more. This sediment displeasing to the eye and can be quite unpleasant in the mouth, hence, the wine decanters. Decanters.com has some stylish wine decanters for your picking. Our tip? Look for a wide bottom and a narrow neck. You will be needing a decanting funnel too, so the wine will gently pour down the side of your decanter.

Wine racks

Display your good taste not only in wines but also in inner décor with great wine racks. Whether you’re looking for traditional wooden wine racks made from redwoods, mahogany or pines, or a wild new design in metal, a wine rack makes a great accessory while you are serving your guests. Add pizzazz to your wine cellar walls with a mounted wine rack or show off some of your best wines in stackable wine racks. They are a refreshing change from the basic racks exclusively intended for storage, and you add a little more artistry to your wine cellar with beautiful wine racks. Your choices are many, and you can even have them customized in a variety of creative and eye-catching ways!

Cork stoppers

Always trying to squeeze that cork back into your unfinished bottle of wine?  Wine stoppers are one of the top-selling wine accessories, and the choices are limitless. You can find everything from high end professional styles to the more traditional and to the novelty and contemporary types.  Depending on your taste, you can choose from various geometric shapes, hand-blown glass shapes, to funny little characters sitting on top of the cork. If you’re a wine enthusiast who’s environmentally conscious, choose natural cork stoppers. Remember though, that while stoppers can slow the spoiling process of the wine, they can’t really stop it. Our tip? Drink and consume your wine within two days of opening it.

Accessorizing is indeed an enjoyable experience, and because wine is personal, make your wine accessories selection a personal one too. Indulge in one of life’s greatest pleasures by stocking up some or all of these must-have wine accessories.

Author: Zsa Zsa Bacaling works with Grotto Cellars. Accessorize with custom made wine racks from Grotto Custom Wine Cellars and Cabinets. We create beautiful wine racks that can add style and flair to your wine cellar.

Hello Vino & @drXeNo!

Hello Vino iPhone AppFollowing a dizzying string of new partnerships between WineLog, myself and other fine and fun wine partners, we are now part of a very cool and useful iPhone app that has been newly relaunched.  Hello Vino takes the hard part out of picking a wine while on the go to whole ‘nother level.  Choose a pairing based on the food on the menu in front of you, choose the food for the glass you just ordered at the wine bar or just search for a distinct wine style or producer…all taken care of very quickly.  It’s also all dialed in to your favorite social networks (their on Twitter themselves) so that you can brag to educate all of your friends about your synergistic food and wine choice.  If you pairing is a match made in digestive heaven, you can even buy the wine straight from your iPhone.

Hello Vino Vinopanion Wine Review Screen CaptureThe innovative folks at Hello Vino have launched a new feature on the app which features wine reviews and blog posts about many of the favorite wines in their database.  I have a number of wine reviews up there already, as do many of my superbly talented vinopanions, such as Notes From the Cellar‘s Steve Paulo (Twitter), Luscious Lush Thea Dwelle (Twitter) and 1WineDude’s Joe Roberts (Twitter, Twitter2).  The Chicago Tribune’s Bill Daley (Twitter) also has a number of reviews on the site.  I highly recommend downloading this intuitive wine app and adding it to your arsenal of iPhone apps.

Let me know what you think about the new features in the comments below!

Wine Aerator Air-Off

Wine Aerator Airoff - The contenders!As a certifiable (different from certified, mine requires a psychiatrist!) wine geek, I get a lot of questions about serving and preparing wine so that it can be happily sipped.  One of the biggest questions concerns the aeration of wine…how do I like to aerate my wine, whether young or old and what do I like to use to do so?  For the most part, I tend to decant my wines, but that isn’t always the easiest thing to do every time I open a new bottle.  Sometimes I might only want part of a bottle and then the wine is hard to store once decanted.  Or, I might just have more than one bottle open at a time and I’m pouring like crazy because I have some thirsty friends, ready to partake.  In that case, I find that a wine aerator tends to do the trick, i.e. a wine gadget that actually works on a per glass basis and usually by being inserted into the bottle.  The larger question looms…which one is the best??  This article is here to try and tackle that vinoquery!

The Contenders:

Centellino Areadivino1. Centellino Areadivino (sample courtesy of the U.S. distributor) $50

This contestant hails from Italy and has a beautiful design of carved wood and hand-blown glass.  Just sitting alone, it makes for a very artistic addition to the room or dining table.  Replete with two globes and a spout, topped with the wood, it has beautiful form.  Conveniently, it also has single-handed operation, being placed in the bottle for use.  This particular aerator has had a big push into the US market over the last 6 months, including some very cool social and multimedia campaigns.  One of the videos is particularly helpful to learn how to use this aerator and a good watch.

Wine Soirée2. Wine Soirée (Twitter) (sample courtesy of the company) $25

The Wine Soirée is another great single-hand operated wine aerator.  Featuring an easy in-bottle design and stylized main bulb for the oxygenation of the wine, this is the easiest of the three to operate.  There are two different rubber seals depending on the type of bottle that will be opened.  The packaging also contains a handy stand with which to dry the aerator when done and after rinsing.  Their website also features a handy video where you can learn the easy methods of the WS.  The Wine Soirée is widely available in the US and can be found at many wineries in California, proving that the winemakers themselves must think highly of this aerator!

Vinturi3. Vinturi (Twitter) $40

The Vinturi comes in two different flavors, red and white but I was only able to test the red iteration.  The white version is described as having different dimensions and flow rate to better suit white wine.   This patent pending design is possibly the most dramatic, merely because as the wine travels through the device a distinct sucking sound punches through the air…definitely getting you noticed at the your friends’ wine and cheese party!  A drawback in my setup is that it requires a two-handed operation, where the Vinturi actually blocks your view of the wine glass to see how much has been poured.  They do offer stand to solve this issue as well as a steel filter for sediment and cork bits, but they cost extra.  Your purchase of either of the aerators includes a stand to contain drips and/or hold it upright while drying, as well as a velvet carrying pouch.

The Process:

I decided to take (not surprisingly) something of a scientific approach to tackle this comparison.    The wine I chose was one in which I had a fair amount of familiarity from past vintages so that it was something that I could recognize stylistically to neutralize another variable, that of an unknown wine.  My wine for the evening was the 2007 Alexander Valley Vineyards Alexander Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, a very solid, balanced and high QPR Cab.

The weigh-in! - Wine AeratorsI then poured four glasses of wine, 1 as a control with no aeration and the other three with the exact same amount in each one, properly utilizing each of the aerators.  In retrospect, it would have been great to pour one additional bottle into a decanter for the same amount of time as each glass as another, somewhat positive control. Each aerator’s glass was poured and left to sit for 2 minutes before evaluation, just as I did with the control straight from the bottle.  I used my typical three component tasting structure of Color, Nose and Palate, with the Color the same across all glasses, of course.  With the tasting method now elucidated, let’s launch into the tasting notes!

2007 Alexander Valley Vineyards Alexander Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon - BevMo!Aerator Tasting Notes (Color: Dark garnet core with garnet edges):

No Aeration (-):

N: Black fruit that is slightly muted, some toast oak underneath and some char.
P: Full and all black fruit, with oak underneath, firm grip and some charred earth in the juicier, good acid black fruit finish.

Centellino Areadivino:

N: Bigger oak, underneath, with dark berry fruit and some newly wet earth at the end.
P: Full and sinuous with good grip, all black fruit and chalky, dusty tannins.

Wine Soirée:

N: Bright black and red fruit here with some charred earth.
P: Plush black berry fruit here, still with good brightness and good acid in the chalky black fruit finish.

Vinturi:

N: Drier black fruit with dusty oak under.
P: Blackberry fruit here as well, with some of that firm grip and good acid. Oak in the juicy finish of ripe currants.

Discussion and Results:

I think the most interesting finding of this comparison was the number of differences and similarities that I found across all of them.  Each aerator was noticeably different from the other: more oak in the Centellino glass, bright black and red fruit in the Soirée and a juiciness to the fruit in the palate using the Vinturi, all different from the more muted nose and oakier palate of the control glass.  Alternately, all four glasses showed a depth of black fruit and a good balance of tannins, acidity, mouthfeel (though a different style in each glass) and fruit; typical of this fine Alexander Valley producer.

Aeration Complete!The fact that the oak was more prominent in both the Centellino and the control glass along with the less plush fruit in the palate in both leads to think that there was less aeration in the Centellino in comparison to the Soirée and Vinturi…which isn’t necessarily a bad or good thing, it’s just different from the other two.  The more integrated oak of the two latter aerators, along with the more complex fruit that exhibited greater depth shows a more opened glass of wine in both glasses.

Taking all of this together, I’m actually apt to recommend all three aerators, each with their own specialty.  Let’s say you have a more delicate styled wine that still requires some air to open up and your guests are set to arrive within minutes…grab your Centellino and wait until they knock on your door!  That young Pinot will open right up and not be overly oxygenated and look freaking awesome in front of your friends as you pour them their first glass, right after they walk into your home.

Alexander Valley VineyardsDo you have a more burly, full-bodied wine that still needs a bit of age to be ready to drink right from the bottle?  Grab your Soirée or Vinturi and aerate that sucker right into its optimal drinking state with either one of those two nifty items. Either one of them will be able to handle the mad oxygenation that is needed to let that lumberjack of a wine sing a Monty Python number!

Have you had a good or bad experience with any of the aerators discussed above?  Let me know in the comments, I’m very interested to hear what you’ve found with your own wines!

First Palate Press Article: The Eisch-off!

Palate Press - The Online Wine Magazine As I mentioned in my last post, the new online wine magazine Palate Press has launched and with it today, my first article hits the virtual presses!

There’s already been a tremendous response to the magazine’s first couple weeks and I’m thrilled to be adding my vinorary contribution to the mix: Eisch Breathable Crystal…is it real or just another wine gimmick?  Find out at Palate Press!