Wine Time with Aaron the Wine Guy

Hello Prince Albert! Most people have a junk drawer in their home containing an assortment of random objects; some are useful and some are not. In one person’s home, you may find buttons, rubber bands, duct tape etc., while another home might contain entirely different items. These collections of objects can indicate a lot about a person and if you looked in my junk drawers (take your pick, I have 3) you would find a variety of cooking tools and also a healthy number of wine accessories.
Do you have a wine accessory/tool that you can’t live without? If I had to narrow my collection down to one wine item, I would choose a double-hinged waiter’s corkscrew every single time.
The double-hinged corkscrew is easy to use, it’s quick and it gives me a sense of ritual when preparing to enjoy a glass of wine. What are some of the other gadgets out there and are they worth picking up? Let’s take a look at a few of the more common options.
The ah-so may not be well-known to every wine drinker but it is essential if you like to enjoy old wines like Port or decades-old vintage wines. The ah-so is shaped like an outward-facing pincer with two points at the end for wiggling out corks that are fragile or broken. As some may have experienced, using a corkscrew on a damaged or fragile cork can break the cork up and leave pieces of it in your wine. It’s not pleasant to pick cork chunks from your wine so consider picking one of these up. You can find many options for under $20.
Next is one of my personal favorites: the Champagne cage. This is a simple device that seals your sparkling wine after you have opened it and either don’t have the time to finish the bottle or want to save it for later. This item hooks under the neck of the bottle while sealing the top and allows the bubbles inside to build up pressure without popping the top; this means that you can open that bottle of Champagne, have a glass and re-seal it for a week. When you open the bottle again a week later, the wine is still bubbly and fresh as the day you opened it! Many brands give these away with the purchase of a bottle but they often cost between $20 and $30 on average.
Finally, I’d like to mention a tool that has become incredibly useful for wine collectors or sommeliers and that is the Coravin wine system. This gadget allows the enthusiast to draw a small sample of wine using a thin needle directly from the bottle through the cork. Any space that is created in the bottle from extracting the wine sample is replaced with inert gas (via a small cylinder) which means you can have a taste of that expensive wine without opening it! This is ideal for those that like to have multiple wine tastings but don’t want to waste their wine when only serving a few samples.
Of course, the less wine there is in the bottle, the faster a wine will eventually oxidize. It’s great fun to use once you get the hang of it but it does have two downsides: the cost can be high for the initial purchase (the entry-level model is almost $200 with higher-level options reaching $600 or more), and the unit requires gas canisters which can be bought as a kit or in small packs. While a canister does last a good amount of time, the cost does add up the more you use it. You can find the Coravin system on Amazon.
These are only a few of the massive number of options out there but they give you an idea of how intricate and expansive the world of wine accessories can get. What was the last wine accessory you purchased? Do you still use it? Here are my wine and whiskey picks of the week!
Freixenet Ice Cuvee Especial: (Spain). Off-dry to medium-dry sparkling wine. Pale lemon color with small strings of intensely frothing bubbles. This Cava is designed to be poured on ice and loses some of its flair and crispness when poured in a regular flute glass. The nose opens with fruity aromas of bruised apples and pears, citrus, sweet chalky mineral, hints of soft cheese (Brie), crusty bread and a hint of ginger. The flavors taste syrupy and thick at first which surprised me as most Cava is quite dry. Once the initial shock wears off and my palate adjusts, the flavors become easier to pick out; fresh apple skins, pear and peach fruit, lemon peel, sweet wet rock minerality and a smooth, creamy mouthfeel. Medium body with medium acidity leaves this sparkler tasting soft. While the wine tastes decent, the sweetness obscures the quality usually derived from the Traditional Method style. Honey and hints of toast are apparent on the quick finish. Tastes remarkably better when paired with salty snacks like prosciutto, Hawkins Cheezies or salted potato chips. This Cava is out of balance but I still found some enjoyment. Good! $15, 11.5% ABV
Zonin Brut Prosecco: (DOC Veneto, Italy). Dry to off-dry sparkling wine. Pale lemon color. The nose is simple, fruity and light with crisp notes of apple, pear, mandarin, melon and spring flowers. On the palate, this bubbly has a touch of sweetness with lovely orchard fruit notes coming forward immediately. Apples, pears and oranges combine with a hint of honey and fresh flowers. The bubbles disappear quickly but they are lively and smooth. A touch of bitterness comes in on the quick finish with a tasty note of yeasty bread crust and citrus zest. Floral accents add some complexity and bring forward memories of Spring. Medium body, medium-plus acidity. If you find it on sale, grab a bottle! Great for appetizer courses or entertaining guests. Very good! $22, 11% ABV
Paul John Edited Single Malt Whiskey: (India). This non-chill filtered whiskey from Producer Paul John is a delightfully sweet, spicy and slightly smokey single malt. The liquid carries a beautiful caramel hue. On the nose, high-intensity tropical fruits explode (pineapple, mango) while baking spices swirl (vanilla bean, pepper, cinnamon). The spirit is not overly smokey on the nose but this whiskey is indeed peated, if not lightly. The first taste unleashes a rush of sweet orchard fruits and spiced oranges which snaps into cinnamon sticks and candy hearts followed again by another transition into fruity notes of cooked pears and juicy apples. Chocolate orange, prickly black pepper and leather announce the peat with a long, lingering finish. Tannins build up in the mouth as the whiskey is sipped and the balance is beautiful. Sweet, spicy and savory all in one go. Keeps me coming back for another taste. One of my favorites. Very good! $85, 46% ABV
Cheers and thanks for reading!