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Posts Tagged ‘wine accessories’

How to Open a Bottle of Wine the Right Way

March 11th, 2014 No comments

You could open a bottle of wine in your sleep…but are you doing it right? Learn the simple steps to properly open a bottle of wine, and look like a pro at your next dinner party.

Step One: Gather your tools

There are a lot of fancy wine openers (we sell some great ones!) on the market, but you should at least know how to do it properly, with an old-fashioned “waiter’s corkscrew” (also called a “sommelier’s friend”) that you can pick up for a few dollars and that slips easily into a pocket.

Step Two: Remove the Foil

Flip the small knife on the corkscrew out, and hold the corkscrew in the fist of one hand, the blade pointing towards your thumb. Holding the bottle firmly in the other hand, place the knife blade below the lip of the bottle. (Too high, and you could potentially contaminate the wine with bacteria from the outside of the bottle as it’s being poured.) Squeezing the neck of the bottle between the knife and your thumb, rotate the bottle. After one or two passes, your foil will be cut cleanly all the way around.  Using a scraping motion with the knife, peel the foil upwards and away from the bottle. Finish removing it with your hands.

Step Three: Insert the Corkscrew

Close the knife, and flip the corkscrew out. Again holding the wine bottle firmly in one hand, use the other to insert the point of the corkscrew into the center of the cork. Applying gentle downward pressure while turning the corkscrew will help it get started traveling downward into the cork in the proper position. Continue twisting downward until there is one turn of the corkscrew left. (Going too far could push the corkscrew all the way through the cork, breaking it or pushing cork residue into the wine.)

Step Four: Remove the Cork.

Set the first step of the corkscrew (the projection closest to the screw) onto the lip of the bottle. Continuing to hold the bottle firmly in one hand (never put it down on the table, that’s considered bad manners), use the other to apply upward pressure and lever the cork up. Once the cork has moved up enough, switch to the second step of the corkscrew. Using both steps lessens the chance the cork will bend and break. Once you’ve leveraged the cork out as far as it will go, simply pull to remove it the rest of the way.

Step Five: Remove the Cork from the Corkscrew

Being careful not to poke yourself, twist the cork off of the corkscrew with your hand. You’ll want to inspect the cork for damage, which can include cracks running up its sides, mold, or other signs of deterioration. If the cork doesn’t signal you that something has gone wrong with the wine, it’s time to pour a glass. After all that hard work, you deserve it!

 

 

Wine Cellars for Small Spaces

June 14th, 2013 No comments

You’re a wine lover who’s dying to start a collection. You drool over photos of others peoples’ expansive wine cellars, with their rows upon rows of bottles just waiting for the perfect day to be opened. But you don’t have a handy underground space, or an extra room that can be converted into the wine cellar you covet. You might live in a small house or even an apartment. But just because you have a small living space doesn’t mean you have to give up your big wine cellar dreams.

 

Vintage Cellars is no stranger to the challenges of building a fully-functioning, temperature- and humidity-controlled wine cellar in a small space. For homeowners in San Diego, CA, Vintage Cellars had just 80 square feet to work with, but managed to build the perfect space to neatly house 750 bottles.

 

Of course, no space, no matter the size, can be a successful wine cellar without the proper sealing, vapor barriers, and installation. Vintage Cellars experts took the care to outfit this small space just like they would a more traditionally-sized wine cellar. And just because the cellar is small doesn’t mean it’s lacking in the looks department. Clean-lined glass doors both show off the wine and open up the relatively small space. Vintage Cellars also installed adjustable shelving to house the homeowners’ special collection of large-format bottles. The shelving allows the clients to showcase this unique aspect of their collection, giving it a personal touch.

 

But what if you don’t have the ability to knock out a wall to build the small-scale wine cellar of your dreams? Even if you’re renting a small apartment, you still have options. One great space-conscious choice is a wine refrigerator. This wine cabinet by Vinotheque holds 448 bottles, and can be housed in an out-of-the-way corner or even a garage. Still too large? This credenza-style wine cabinet holds 216 bottles, and can double as a buffet in a dining room, or even act as a console table in a hallway. Still don’t have room? This small-scale wine refrigerator from Marvel slides right underneath a kitchen counter, and takes up just 15 inches of space, while holding an impressive 23 bottles.

It may seem like you need an enormous mansion to house a wine collection. But that isn’t true. With a little imagination, you can store your bottles no matter what your living situation, whether by building a small-scale cellar into your house, or by simply sliding a tiny refrigerator underneath an existing counter.

Wine Dispensing Best Practices

March 12th, 2013 No comments

WineKeeper’s Magnum 8 Bottle

You found that perfect wine while tasting at a sun-soaked vineyard years ago. You carefully carried a bottle home and placed it in your wine cellar. You monitored the temperature and humidity. You researched and thought about when the right time to open it. Finally, tonight’s the night: it’s time to uncork that bottle and at long last, enjoy the wine inside. But here’s the rub: you don’t want to down the whole precious bottle in one night. How do you enjoy the wine over a few days without losing that taste you’ve worked so hard to build?

Anyone who’s left a bottle out on the counter or in the refrigerator knows that the wine just doesn’t taste quite as good the next night. Can you save your wine without losing taste? The answer is yes: Your just need a wine dispenser.

Wine dispensers are devices designed to preserve wines. They store wines at appropriately cool temperatures, and keep oxygen from coming in contact with the liquid inside the bottle. You’ve probably seen wine dispensers used at restaurants and bars. But wine dispensers are available for home use, too.

One wine dispensing system we recommend is the WineKeeper. WineKeepers work by replacing the oxygen in the open bottle with nitrogen, a gas that doesn’t react with wine. Meanwhile, they hold bottles in a refrigerator specifically calibrated to the right temperature to preserve the wine. To use the system, you uncork the wine, insert the dispenser’s stopper faucet, and plug in the gas. You’re ready to pour a perfect glass.

WineKeeper offers a wide variety of dispensers. If you’re a restaurant or bar owner, you might be interested in something like their 8-bottle model, available in all kind of finishes from oak to stainless steel, and customizable with features like chrome faucets and a door lock. This model has different temperature zones for white and red wines, making it simple to keep each at its correct temperature.

If you’re a home enthusiast, you might be more interested in WineKeeper’s 4-bottle model, called the Napa. Though smaller, this model uses the same nitrogen preservation technology and advanced refrigeration system, and has two separate compartments for wine and red wines.

Whether you need a commercial or personal model, WineKeepers will keep opened bottles of wine fresh for weeks, so that you never waste that second half of the bottle again.

Wine DJ: a Fun app Combining Music & Wine!

August 7th, 2012 No comments

Wine DJ IconHave a good bottle of wine?  Need the perfect music to set the proper mood?  Have no fear; Wine DJ is here!  Wine DJ is an iPhone app designed to help you build the perfect playlist based on your desired mood, coupled with the Liberty School wine you’re drinking.  Simply enter the type of wine you’re planning to drink, use a variety of fun controls to customize and fine-tune the desired mood, and discover the perfect playlist for the occasion!

Though the wines featured are those by Liberty School, the app is still fun to use if you substitute other wines.  For example, if you’re opening a nice Cab, no matter the winery, simply select the “Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon” from the wine list.

Though other programs with “intelligent” playlist-generating features do exist, Wine DJ’s mood sliders allow you to add a more refined level of selection to generated playlists based on personal choices, in addition to your chosen wine.  (The algorithm, created by Grooveshark, has produced some compelling playlists, indeed!) And if a song appears that you don’t own (but want to), all you need to do is click the “Download on iTunes” button.  Simple!  Playlists can be saved, too, so you can relive the memories of any night, anytime.

For a free app, Wine DJ is certainly entertaining.  Wine DJ is available from the iTunes store.  It is compatible with all iPhone models, plus iPod Touch.

 

Wine DJ Screenshots

Wine DJ Screenshots

Has My Wine Gone Bad?

June 19th, 2012 No comments

If you’ve been drinking wine for a while, you’ve most likely encountered a bottle that has gone bad somewhere along the line.  Unlike wines that simply taste “less-than-good,” bad bottles taste unbelievably bad!  What causes such ruined wine?  Here are a few factors…

bad wine that tastes like vinegar

Image from northof9finewine.blogspot.com

A Bad Cork: Bad corks are the number one cause of “bad” wine.  If stored improperly (upright instead of on its side, or in an environment without much humidity) a bottle’s cork can become too dry.  It can then crumble, exposing the wine to air prematurely.

Air Exposure: Premature exposure to air (often because of bad corks) makes wine go flat and taste weak.  Any air leak will quickly ruin decent wine.  Some people mistakenly think that re-corking a bottle of opened wine will enable it to be preserved as before.  Unless you’re using a wine preservation system similar to the Winekeeper Vintner 3 Bottle Wine Dispenser System, just popping the cork back on will not preserve your wine; the air remaining in the bottle will wreak havoc on your remaining wine.

Warm Storage: If wine has been stored for a lengthy period in heated conditions (direct sunlight, an uncooled storage area, a steamy car trunk, etc.) It can acquire a rubbery, burnt-like taste.  One telltale sign of a bottle that’s been exposed to heat is a cork that leaks a little bit of wine.  If you’re storing wine at home in your cellar, consider investing in a WhisperKOOL XLT 1600 cellar cooling unit that not only regulates temperature, but also humidity!

Past its Prime: If a wine ages too long after it’s reached its maturity, it will begin to taste like vinegar.  Lots of people mistakenly blame vinegar-tasting wine on something that happened during the production process.  Most of the time, however, that vinegar taste simply indicates the wine was stored way past its prime.

So, if you’re storing wine, make sure it is kept out of direct sunlight, stored on its side in a climate-controlled environment (preferably where moisture is also monitored), and consumed close to the time when it reaches its maturity.  Follow these simple steps, and the amount of bad bottles you open in your home will be minimized. Cheers!

How to Swirl and Sniff Wine Like a Pro

May 29th, 2012 1 comment

At tastings, many newcomers to the world of wine are unsure about the proper etiquette surrounding swirling and sniffing wine.  Is there a right way to do it?  Or is it a little like the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup slogan: there’s no wrong way to eat a Reese’s?

wines lined up and ready to taste in proper wine glasses

Wines lined up and ready to taste! (Image from Wikipedia)

Since wine’s scent and taste are both key elements of any tasting, swirling and sniffing are encouraged in order to get the best overall sense of a wine.  While most newcomers think taking a single long, drawn out sniff from their glass completes the process, that’s only a beginning part!  Before even smelling your wine, you should be swirling it.  Swirling aerates wine, opening it up so that its inherent scents and flavors are brought to the fore.  You can swirl your glass while it is on the table, or you can hold your glass by the base or stem to swirl it.  What matters most is that you actually do swirl your wine!

Once your wine is swirled a bit, put your nose into the glass as far as it will go. (Don’t submerge your nose in the wine!)  Inhale deeply for a couple of seconds.  Use your diaphragm (your “belly”) to take in a full whiff of the wine’s aroma.  Swirl your glass a little more, then inhale again, smelling the wine a second time.  Swirl, sniff, swirl, sniff, etc.  See if you can identify the scents you are smelling.  Do you smell the wine’s fruitiness?  Do you smell berries, cherries, or figs?  Do you smell lemon, grapefruit, peach, or mango?  Observe how swirling and aerating your wine helps bring out a variety of curious scents hidden, before, in your wine.

While there are several quality wine glasses to choose from, wine glasses made specifically for the types of wine you’re tasting often allow you to perceive that wine’s aromas to the fullest.  For red wine tasting, consider using Riedel “O” stemless glasses, available as a mixed set, designed to enhance the main red varietals.  For white wines, consider a glass designed for your specific varietal, like a Riedel Vinum Classic Sauvignon Blanc wine glass for tasting Blanc fumé, Fumé blanc, Rotgipfler, Sancerre, Sauvignon blanc, Sémillon, Spätrot-Rotgipfler, and Zierfandler.  Breathe in, and enjoy the experience!  Cheers!

 

Dare to Mix Red and White Wine?

April 10th, 2012 No comments

mixing red and white wineBefore reading further, please understand that wines like rosés are not just mixtures of red and white wines.  They are made by a process similar to red wine, but the skins of the grapes are removed before they fully turn the wine a deep shade of red.  (Read more about the process of making rosé wine in our previous post How to Choose a Great Rosé.) That said, some experimental wine drinkers delight in mixing red and white wines, producing curious concoctions that either intrigue or disgust  (This is the adult equivalent of the way kids mix multiple sodas together at fast food restaurants).  While purists will have no part in such playing, some wine drinkers delight in making their own mock blends of “signature” wines this way.

Is it possible to mix red and white wines to create new blends of your own?  Yes, it is.  Will they be any good?  While there’s no guarantee, if your palate is discriminating enough you may just very well be able to come up with a custom mix that suits your fancy (We can’t speak on behalf of your guests, however!).  And while your blend will not be a real rosé, it may still exhibit an interesting, rosé-like appearance.

How should you go about mixing red and white wines?  If you want your results to be drinkable, follow these simple steps:

  1. Decide on the two wines you want to mix.
  2. Fill a glass halfway with whichever wine has the weaker flavor.
  3. Add half a shot glass full of the stronger wine.
  4. Stir!
  5. Sip, and see what you think.  If the flavor is too weak, repeat to steps 3-5.

If you’re lucky, you may have discovered a personalized blend you’re absolutely crazy about.  Then again, you may have Frankenstein’s monster on your hands!  If so, discard your glass and use a wine preserver like the Napa 4- bottle wine dispenser to keep the unused, untainted portions of your two opened bottles fresh for another time to be enjoyed on their own!  Good luck, and happy mixing!

Featuring: The WineKeeper 3-Bottle Executive

March 15th, 2012 No comments
WineKeeper 3-Bottle Executive

The WineKeeper 3-Bottle Executive

Ever have a really good glass of wine you’d like to savor forever?  If not forever, how about one you’d want to keep around to sip on over the next few weeks?

We’ve all had those magic bottles of wine we wanted to keep around for little tastes, but couldn’t preserve adequately for more than a few days.  With the WineKeeper 3-Bottle Executive, however, the game changes!  Designed to elegantly display three wine bottles, the WineKeeper 3-Bottle Executive keeps your wine chilled, ready to dispense, and well-preserved for weeks!  Now, you can keep that “magic” bottle around to savor!  Available in a modern black or traditional oak finish, the WineKeeper 3-Bottle Executive can easily match your kitchen or wine room decor.  Lightweight (12 lbs.) and easy to move, the WineKeeper 3-Bottle Executive uses easy-to-replace Argon or Nitrogen canisters.  It makes a perfect, portable wine dispenser at parties, as well as at home.  Don’t let that good bottle of wine go to waste!  Keep it fresh and chilled with the WineKeeper 3-Bottle Executive.

eSommelier: a New Way to Organize Your Wine Collection

February 16th, 2012 No comments
eSommelier Wine Collection Management System

eSommelier Wine Collection Management System

Technology has certainly been keeping the wine world on its toes!  With the latest wine app releases, to devices with unparalleled scanning, pairing, and locating capabilities, what new wine gadgets will they think of, next?  Here is one that we find quite a catch!  It’s called the eSommelier, and it’s a complete wine collection management system.  Perfect for people with large collections, the eSommelier is an elegant, touch-screen based wine inventory system designed to keep track of the wines you have in your cellar, restaurant, or commercial business.  Featuring a top-of-the-line bar code scanning system and printer, you can easily identify and track every bottle of wine you own.  Gigantic catalogues of wine info and reviews are included, too, and are accessible just by touching the screen.  Measuring 13” x 15” X 6”, the eSommelier can fit just about anywhere.  The hardware (touch screen, printer, scanner, flash drive backup) and software are all included, so eSommelier is ready to run right out of the box.  Plus, you’ll have access to a year’s worth of online updates.  With eSommelier, you can easily view your wine inventory, and be kept informed about when you should start drinking some of your older bottles!  You’ll be able to see wines that have reached their ideal drinking age, be able to view professional tasting notes for each wine, view your cellar’s temperature from anywhere in the world, keep a record of your cellar’s temperature and humidity history, allow guests to view your wine collection, digitally, and much, much more.  For a stylish, easy-to-use, standalone piece of professional equipment, eSommelier is one of the best wine organizational tools we’ve seen recently.   It’ll definitely enhance your collecting experience.

Decorate Your Wine Bottle

February 14th, 2012 No comments
A fiasco similar to those traditionally used for Chianti

Photo by Giulio Nepi (from Wikipedia)

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

Giving your Sweetie Pie a bottle of wine on Valentine’s Day?  In addition to presenting it with a fancy bow or ribbon attached, there are lots of fun, inexpensive decorations the two of you can make from it the same evening (once you both finish it!)  A bottle works great as a vase, so if you have a few pretty flowers, now you know where to put them.  You don’t need many, and just a couple can look quite lovely.  If you have several empty bottles waiting to be tossed, consider lining them up on the mantle with a rose or two in each for a Valentine’s surprise.  For a fun, romantic Italian atmosphere at home, place a lit candle in an empty bottle of Chianti while you dine.  Consider printing out a love poem and gluing it tastefully over the bottle, too!

  • You can paint and decorate your wine bottles, and even frost them with glitter spray to create delicate centerpieces.
  • Fill some empty bottles with water and place them around a short candle so the soft light twinkles through.  If your bottles are clear, add some food coloring to the water!  Have fun!
  • Consider filling empty bottles with bath salts, then wrapping them up as gifts, or even filling an empty bottle with liquid soap to make your tub area look a bit more elegant.  (Be sure to substitute a soap hand pump for the cork, for convenience!)

With a little creative thought, there’s quite a bit you can do inexpensively with an empty bottle.  Why not make a fun, intimate craft project out of your bottle together this Valentine’s Day?