Category Archives: Barware

On Glassware

riedel scotch glass 300x300 On GlasswareReader Jeffrey Glas writes: I have been following your blog for a couple of years now and have a quick question for you. What kind of glasses do you use for sampling various spirits and wines?

Good question, and I’m happy to share.

For spirits, I almost always use one of three glasses: The Glencairn Scotch Whisky Glass, the Riedel Sommeliers Series Single Malt Whisky Glass (pictured), or Bulleit Bourbon’s oblong tumblers. Most brown spirits go in one of the former glasses. White spirits often in the latter. No real reason for the separation, just habit really.

Of the two whisky glasses, I prefer the Riedel. The Glencairn is more popular in the industry and at events, but I find it concentrates the alcohol vapors too strongly, trapping them in the glass — and making it hard to smell anything but harsh alcohol when you take a sniff. The tulip mouth of the Riedel lets some of the alcohol escape, and while it also lets some of the nose of the actual spirit out, I find this is a small price to pay for the advantage of aerating the spirit, and ultimately it results in a clearer impression of what’s being tasted.

For wine, I try to use the traditionally appropriate glass (I have a wide selection of Riedel stemware from a variety of its product lines, quite a hodgepodge now), in as large a bowl as possible. For inexpensive wines (like boxed wines) I may use a standard, off-the-rack smaller wine glass or stemless wine glass for the sake of simplicity, but for more serious wines I try to go with the big stuff. Most of my glasses are from Riedel’s Vinum or Vitis series.

For beer, I use either a Spiegelau Beer Classics glass or the Samuel Adams Pint Glass, both of which I’ve reviewed.

It’s true that glassware does impact your experience, so it’s not foolish to be thoughtful about what you pour your $300 whiskey into. Hope that helps. Happy tasting, and remember: Glassware makes for a great Christmas gift — and you can carry it on an airplane, unlike a bottle of wine or whiskey.

AlcoHAWK Personal Breathalyzer Roundup

How drunk are you? No, really? How do you know?

If you’re a regular imbiber, it’s a good idea to test yourself once in awhile to make sure you’re OK to drive. 0.08 percent blood alcohol content (BAC) is the maximum legal level in most states, but knowing if you’re over that threshold can be difficult (particularly as you get closer and closer to it).

Portable blood alcohol testers can be helpful, but many require patience and luck to get them to work properly. Here’s a look at two very different models from AlcoHAWK, one of the leaders in personal breath analyzers.

AlcoHAWK Slim Ultra fits in a pocket and is about the size of a cell phone. The unit works well… when it works. Making that happen requires blowing into the unit for five seconds, turning it on, then waiting for it to count down from 100 to zero, a process that can take several minutes. Then, more often than not, the unit signals that it has an error. You have to repeat the entire process from scratch, then hope for the best. Sometimes you need one reboot, sometimes four. We never got it to work right on the first try, but when we did finally get it going, it offered results exactly in line with the more professional tester (accurate to three decimal places) that we had to compare with. B / $50 [BUY IT HERE] (pictured)

AlcoHAWK One Test is a single-use breath alcohol tester that has pretty limited value no matter what you’ve been up to that evening. It’s a slim tube the size of a cigarette that works only once. To use it, you puncture both ends, then blow into it like a straw. You then wait basically wait until the yellow crystals inside turn green. If the level of greenness crosses the line and red dot on the tube, you’re over 0.05% BAC — and presumably you shouldn’t drive. The accuracy is questionable, and I imagine if you are drunk enough to see a lot of green crystals in here, you know you shouldn’t be driving anywhere. But at least it’s portable. C / $20 for five [BUY IT HERE]

alcohawk slim ultra AlcoHAWK Personal Breathalyzer Roundup

Review: Samuel Adams Pint Glass

There are nearly as many types of beer glasses out there as there are wine glasses. A few years back Samuel Adams created this custom glass — designed specifically for its Boston Lager — and unlike any other beer glass in my collection.

sam adams beer glass 230x300 Review: Samuel Adams Pint GlassI’ll let the company explain: “The brewers worked with a team of world-renowned sensory experts to develop a glass that would enhance the tasting experience of Boston Lager, similar to the way different wine glasses are designed to enhance the flavor of wines.   The glass features the turbulator, which is a bead on the inside rim, this creates turbulence as you sip the beer, releasing the aroma.  It has a laser etched nucleation site at the bottom that creates bubbles to maintain flavor release. Bubbles come up from the bottom, similar to a champagne glass.”

I tried it out (with some Pliny the Elder) and agree that it really is a great glass. It has weight, unlike some delicate crystal glassware, which feels like it will break apart in your hand and which doesn’t keep your beer cold enough. The outward turned lip makes it easy to drink from. And — bonus — it fits easily in the dishwasher at the end of the night.

At $30 for four glasses (cheaper if you shop around), it’s also a great deal.

A / $30 for 4 / samueladams.com

Review: WineOff Stain Remover

When one drinks a lot of wine, one spills a lot of wine.

Result: Many an article of clothing, napkin, and tablecloth stained purple.

While wine stain removal products are legion, WineOff, which I put to the test recently, is exceptional at the job. Just spray the stain and it goes to work. There is no alcohol, bleach, or hydrogen peroxide here, but rather a mix of “friendly” bacteria and enzymes that eat away the stain. Bacteria just love to drink wine, it seems.

And it works really well. I tried WineOff on some ancient wine stains on tablecloths that had been through the wash dozens of times, and it was effective at lifting them off almost completely after a spray and a wash. A few stubborn stains remained behind (and it does not do anything at all for other types of stains)… but I can’t fault WineOff for having about a 90% effectiveness rate.

The company behind WineOff, Bio-Pro, also produces CoffeeOff and UrineOff, the usage of which I’ll leave to your imagination.

A- / price TK / bio-proresearch.com

wineoff Review: WineOff Stain Remover

“Glass Tasting” with Maximilian Riedel

As an 11th generation descendant of the Riedel crystal empire, it’s safe to say that Maximilian has glass in his blood. Today, Riedel is synonymous with quality glassware, its empire unmatched by its competition in either size or stature.

Recently I had the opportunity to attend a seminar hosted by Max, who had the goal of proving to his audience that quality glassware really does make a difference when it comes to the enjoyment of wine.

I’ve been a bit of a skeptic for years, figuring that if you had a decent glass you were probably going to get everything a wine could give you. Paper cup, no. Big glass? Anything will likely do for any wine.

Riedel sees it differently, and the Austrian company produces dozens of glasses for every type of wine you might want to drink. The idea is that the shape of the glass can affect its nose, and the shape of the bowl can impact where the wine lands on your palate when you drink it.

It all sounds a little silly, but Riedel is nothing if not convincing, and in a clearly well-rehearsed seminar (mainly directed at restaurant owners which Riedel would like to be customers), I was persuaded — at least to a degree.

We tasted a variety of wines, including 2007 Italian chardonnay, 1996 Spatlese Riesling, 2006 St. Estephe, and a vintage-unannounced Southern California Pinot Noir, all paired with the “right” glass from Riedel’s top-end Vitis line of stemware.

And then we tried the wines from stubby “joker” IKEA glasses — and even from a plastic cup.

The difference was striking. As Riedel suggested, the small glass muted the sweetness of the Riesling and killed the Chardonnay’s fruit on the nose and in the body. The plastic cup was even worse. With its flared-out rim, there was no aroma at all in these wines. The wines we were drinking, so present in the crystal stemware, could have been anything in the plastic cup. I’ve noticed this firsthand before in budget wine events (like those at retail stores). There’s almost no point to drinking wine this way; it just doesn’t taste any good.

I was less convinced by Riedel’s Vitis vs. Vitis challenge. Any differences in the taste and nose of, say, the Pinot Noir when served in the “proper” glass vs. the near-identical Chardonnay glass were elusive to a fault. I’d argue any minute residue of an earlier wine in one glass or another probably had a greater effect on the taste of the wine than an even measurable difference in the shape of the glass’s bowl.

The decanting experiment was also illustrative but not earth shattering. Riedel poured two wines for us into the same glasses, then “revealed” in the end that they were actually the same wine, one decanted and one not. Hardly a shock; the decanted wine was indeed fuller and less green, but they were obviously the same wine from the start. Nothing against decanting — I’m certainly a fan, when I have the time and patience — but it was not the slam-bang finale to an instructive experience that one might have hoped for.

So color me a convert to Riedel and, more importantly, high-quality glassware. Get rid of those freebies you get when you visit a winery and invest in something worth drinking for. And here’s another hint from the pros: You don’t have to hand-wash crystal either… even Riedel puts it in the dishwasher.

riedel.com

Review: Spiegelau Classics Tall Pilsner Glass

Spiegelau enhances is line of beer glassware with a fourth progeny: A tall pilsner intended for, you guessed it, light pilsner beers.

This 12-ounce container is surprisingly thin — almost champagne-flute-like in design, with an indentation near the base and a slowly widening upper section. The look is quite striking, and it’s definitely a conversation piece. Ultimately I prefer a tulip glass or even Spiegelau’s wider lager glass for everyday beer styles, since the pilsner hits you square in the bridge of the nose as you drink from it, but for enhancing the appearance of a bottle of ale, well, the Tall Pilsner knows no equal.

A- / $10 each / spiegelau.com

Spiegelau Tall Pilsner Review: Spiegelau Classics Tall Pilsner Glass

Review: Vacu Vin Rapid Ice Beer Chiller

I’m an avowed fan of the Vacu Vin Rapid Ice Wine Chiller, which can take a bottle of white wine from cellar temp to ready-to-drink in under ten minutes, and as a result I had high hopes for Vacu Vin’s Rapid Ice Beer Chiller.

The theory is simple: A cylinder of re-freezable ice packs envelops your bottle, chilling it quickly. The beer bottle version not only shrinks the pack down to 12-oz. size, it also puts a delightful bit of frothy beer art on the exterior to get you in the mood.

Too bad it doesn’t really work all that well. With the reduced surface area and (likely) higher starting temperature of your beer, it takes at least half an hour to get your beer down to a drinkable temperature, and even then it’s dicey. By the time the Vacu Vin got warm to the touch, my beer still wasn’t as cold as I’d have liked it.

Overall this is a fine gadget if you want to keep an already cold beer chilly, but it’s not ideal for quickly cooling down something that’s starting warm.

C / $14 for two / [BUY IT HERE]

vacu vin beer chiller Review: Vacu Vin Rapid Ice Beer Chiller

Do You Need a White Wine Aerator?

I’m a fan of Vinturi’s Wine Aerator, a now much-copied gadget that instantly aerates your wine as you pour it through the device and into your glass. Handy, convenient, and quite the conversation piece.

Seeking to expand its empire, Vinturi has released a version designed for white wine. the Vinturi White Wine Aerator, “exclusively designed for use with white wine.”

Well… OK. I have put the white wine aerator to the test and found it works great. In fact, it works identically well to the red wine aerator, because as near as I can tell, it is identical. The design is the same, the operation is the same, and the end result is the same. The only difference: Instead of a band of black plastic around its midriff, the White Wine Aerator has a white band. It also has a white stand and a white carrying case.

The other issue at hand: You don’t really need to aerate your white wine, to be honest. A few swirls in the glass and you’re good to go with most whites… and I’ve yet to find a white that benefits from aeration at all.

So grab the White Wine Aerator… or the original one from Vinturi. Honestly it doesn’t matter at all.

vinturi.com [BUY IT HERE]

Review: Wine Swirl Wine Aeration System

Are your arms wildly misshapen or underpowered for your size, like a T. Rex? If so, you might need Wine Swirl, an automated “wine aerator” that will swirl the living hell out of your fermented grape juice with little more than a flick of the wrist.

Wine Swirl may look a bit scientific because, frankly, it is. It’s the exact same thing used in chemistry labs to mix reagents and potions and stuff: The electrically-powered base includes a spinning metal component; you drop a small rectangular magnet into your decanter (the provided one or your own), and turn the knob on the base to make it go. The swirling action is actually pretty impressive, creating a vortex that extends all the way down to the bottom of the decanter.

Results: Less than a minute in the Wine Swirl will soften up even the hardest, most inaccessible of wines. But is the effect much more impressive than you can achieve on your own by vigorously swirling wine in a big glass for a few seconds? Well, not really. And having to fish a tiny magnet out of your wine (these things are destined to get lost, I’m afraid) with a special metal rod sort of ruins the mystique of your wine experience even more than a screw cap does.

Now having a piece of scientific equipment on your bar is one thing. Paying $150 for it is another… Yeah, it works, but is it worth it? At least watch the video on their website before you judge. Oooooh, a whirlpool!

B- / $150 / wineswirl.com

wine swirl Review: Wine Swirl Wine Aeration System

Review: Brugo Travel Mug

By now every urban legend fanatic knows what a deadly menace too-hot coffee can be. Between the scorched privates and scaled tongues, it’s a miracle anyone drinks this stuff at all.

How do you get your coffee down to a tolerable temperature without it getting too cold? Brugo’s answer is an elaborate travel mug with a unique lid.

Tighten on the custom lid and turn the dial to “tip and cool” then rock the cup back and forth a bit. The coffee (or tea, or whatnot) fills a special channel in the lid designed to quickly cool the drink. You then drink it normally through the usual sippy-cup-style opening.

If that leaves you with too chilly a drink you can always bypass the channel with the “sip” setting and get full-temperature, scalding-hot coffee.

Brugo sounds great in theory but it’s asking an awful lot of a caffeine-deprived sleepyhead at 8 in the morning. Filling the channel with the rocking motion just the right way is the hard part, especially since you have to do that with every sip you take. If you’re like me, you either get no coffee in the sip channel, or you shake it so hard it flies out all over your hand. And it’s still hot when that happens, folks.

Nice idea, but the execution is too tricky, especially while you’re driving. Works fine, though, if you just use the regular “sip” setting… provided you can actually get the lid off…

Available in about a dozen colors. Holds 16 oz. in an ergonomic chassis.

C- / $20 / brugomug.com

brugo Review: Brugo Travel Mug

Hands-On: Apollo Single-Serving Blender and Grinder

Smoothies for one? Who wants to break out the giant blender, then clean up the mess afterwards, just for a single-serve drink?

Enter Tribest’s Apollo AP-200, a pint-size blender with vessels that let you mix drinks or grind solid objects in single-serve doses.

The AP-200 is so simple it doesn’t even have an on-off switch. The unique design works such that it doesn’t need on. To use it, you load up a cup (four are included, two 1-cup sizes and two 2-cup sizes; two blades — one dry, one wet — are also included) with whatever you’d like, then screw a blade attachment on top, which works as a sealed lid. Turn it over and place it on the blender base and as you press down, it activates, causing the blades to spin. When you’re done, just take it off, unscrew the lid, and drink it right out of the cup — unlike standard blenders there’s no blade at the bottom to get in your way.

The unique design of the Apollo takes some getting used to, but as a blender it works fairly well, chopping down fruit and ice with reasonable success. I especially liked how easy it was to clean up — just two pieces to go in the dishwasher when you’re done, and you don’t even need a separate cup to hold your bounty.

Sure, if your regular blender works well you probably don’t need the Apollo, but for singles, small kitchens, or for stowing under your bar for the one-off frozen drink, it’s a hit.

$40 / personalblender.com [BUY IT HERE]

tribest personal blender Hands On: Apollo Single Serving Blender and Grinder

Super-Cheap Winepod on the Way

The Winepod gizmo I used to create my own Chateau de Null may no longer be for sale — a victim of the recession that made $4,500 DIY wine urns a tough sell — but former CEO Greg Snell has a new trick up his sleeve: A $500, stripped-down version that might put (easier) home winemaking in the reach of just about everyone:

“The initial idea was to enable anyone to be a winemaker by creating a teaching system with everything necessary to make wine like a professional,” says Snell. Although the miniature version of the Winepod will make smaller quantities of wine and will be made of cheaper materials (no sleek stainless steel this time around) than the original, Snell says the idea is the same — to allow anyone to crush, ferment and age their own grapes in an all-in-one machine. Unlike the pricey Winepod, the new iteration will sell for less than $500.

Cool Down Your Drink With Rocks (Real Rocks)

whisky stones Cool Down Your Drink With Rocks (Real Rocks)It’s a dilemma for some, I suppose: You want to cool your drink down, but you don’t want it to get watery, a big problem with melting ice. Short of chilled-glass contraptions, how do you get the job done?

Answer: Whisky stones.

Whisky stones are real rocks, soapstone cut into cubes to be exact, which you store in your freezer and drop straight into your drink when you want coldness without meltwater. If you’re starting with a warm/room-temperature beverage, they are slow to work and never get things anywhere close to the coolness that real ice does, but they mostly get the job done eventually. If your drink’s already cold and you just want to keep it that way, they work better, but I doubt that’s a huge application here.

The effect is a little disconcerting, I have to say. You are, after all, drinking from a glass full of gray rocks, which is not the most aesthetic way to imbibe. Despite promises to the contrary, the rocks do impart some flavor to the drink. In plain water, you definitely get a chalky flavor and texture in your mouth. It’s not hard to see why — there are little fragments of dust floating in the glass (and yes, I washed them first). In strong drinks these effects may be less noticeable.

Interesting stuff, and since I usually use ice not just for the cooling but for the water inherent to it, too, I probably won’t use these very often. That said, they don’t take up much room in the freezer, they clean up easily, and they’re quite a conversation starter.

Rock on.

$20 for set of 9 / teroforma.com

On Decanting Whiskey

Reader Paul Moody writes: Is there any real reason to decant a bourbon? There seems to be a good selection of crystal decanters to be found on the market these days, but are they primarily for style and looks?

They are strictly for looks.

Decanting wine is done to aerate the wine and minimize the amount of sediment you get in your glass, but these aren’t real concerns with spirits, which don’t change after they reach the bottle. Yes, a spirit will often “open up” after it’s sat in a glass for a few minutes, but that’s due to  alcohol evaporating. That doesn’t happen in a sealed decanter.

There’s actually a reason to avoid decanters, too: With leaded crystal (which comprises the majority of crystal glassware), there’s serious concern that lead can leach out of the glass and into your spirit. If you’re drinking wine from a leaded crystal decanter over the course of a few hours, that contact’s not likely to be a problem. Leave that whiskey in the decanter for a few years and it may very well become one. The FDA has even said that alcoholic beverages are even more at risk of this happening, with substantial effects seen after just a few days of exposure to the leaded crystal.

Krazy Straws for Grownups: Glass Dharma Glass Drinking Straws

You spent hundreds on crystal glasses and quality ingredients and have perfected your perfect cocktail recipe. And now you’re going to stick a plastic straw into it for your guests? Talk about a presentation killer.

Glass Dharma offers an alternative (and it’s even eco-friendly): Glass straws handmade by California glassblowers.

Available in three styles and in a variety of diameters, the straws are all made from Pyrex-type glass and feel extremely sturdy despite their delicate appearance. (Not only are the straws dishwasher-safe, the company recommends sanitizing them therein.)

The “Simple Elegance” style is a straight-up glass tube, unadorned, while “Beautiful Bends” puts a slight kink (about 15 degrees) in the straw about 2/3 of the way up the body. The show-stopper is “Decorative Dots,” which has two colored glass beads fused onto the top of the straw. With six colors available, these straws can be used much like a wine charm to help your party guests identify whose drink is whose. I’ve been checking them out firsthand and really love the way they add to the presentation of a nice drink. (I hear some people even use them for drinking wine… interesting!)

Cleaning brushes and “straw cozies” (hard or soft sleeves) are also available. Hanging onto the cardboard box the straw comes in is also, of course, a good idea. As well, all Glass Dharma straws include a lifetime guarantee against breakage.

Prices vary, but a set of six of the “Decorative Dots” straws will run you $40 (7mm diameter) to $67 (enormous 14mm diameter). That may sound expensive, but a single good wine glass can often set you back that much alone.

Check them all out at glassdharma.com (hit “shop” to check out the various deals).

dharma glass straws Krazy Straws for Grownups: Glass Dharma Glass Drinking Straws

Three Words: Japanese Ice Balls.

We’ve covered ice before, but it’s never looked like this.

Check it out: With these unique molds, you can make enormous, completely spherical balls of ice, pattered after the hand-carved ice balls that apprentice bartenders in Japan are forced to create.

With these special ice trays, you don’t need a chisel to create the orbs. Just fill up the bottom part of the mold with water, put the top half of the mold on it, then use a thin stream of water to fill the mold the rest of the way. That’s a tricky proposition, actually — and water gets all over the place during the fill process — but after all the work to get these things made (and, another challenge, out of the mold) the results are quite striking.

You probably won’t make these ice balls every day, but if you’re trying to make a special impression with a cocktail, it’s worth the effort.

The price, alas, is a little nutty for a couple of little pieces of plastic: 16 bucks gets you a set of two (enough for four ice balls).

japanese ice balls Three Words: Japanese Ice Balls.

Zuvo: The Water Purifier from the Future!

By now everyone knows how terrible bottled water is, environmentally speaking, churning out 18 godzillion pounds of trashed plastic bottles and belching 430 quadrazillion tons of greenhouse gas into the air as bottles are shipped around the world.

But what if your tap water tastes like crap? Then what are you supposed to do?

Purifiers are great, but a lot of times they don’t work so well. I have the luxury of having tap water that tastes pretty good as it is, but the built-in purifier in my fridge actually makes the water taste like onions. Yeah, it’s cold, but jeez. Onions!

Enter Zuvo. This filter sits on the countertop and attaches directly to the faucet. Setup takes just minutes, provided you have a wrench handy and a plug, as the Zuvo requires AC power to operate.

Zuvo cleans water in several ways: with ozone (purportedly an oxidant that destroys contaminants without chemical residue), with ultraviolet light (water is exposed to UV twice during the purification process), and with a standard activated carbon filter. It’s actually pretty cool to watch: When powered on (by pulling the spigot on the faucet) the UV lamp lights up the transparent filter, which swirls the water around like a vortex. The kids really dig it.

So, how’s it taste? After setting up Zuvo and clearing it out for five minutes to let the charcoal settle, I can safely say the water that comes out of Zuvo tastes like nothing. Totally clear, totally pleasant — though the water that sits in the filter (about the size of one of those drive-through bank tube cylinders) hits room temperature after a while — you’ll need ice or have to let it run if you want your water chilled. Now my water doesn’t taste like much to begin with, but there is a very slight chlorine character in the standard tap water that Zuvo successfully wiped out. I expect if your water tastes worse, you’ll get even better mileage out of the unit.

Zuvo isn’t cheap — $275 — but over time it’s far more affordable than drinking bottled water. Definitely worth a look — this is a better alternative, in my opinion, than pitcher filters, which are a pain to fill and clean and which take up gobs of fridge space — and which don’t end up with water that tastes as clean as Zuvo’s. Give it a shot!

zuvowater.com – or buy Zuvo at Amazon.com

zuvo water purator Zuvo: The Water Purifier from the Future!

Review: Ravi, the Instant Wine Chiller

Let’s say you grab a bottle of wine and it’s too warm. What do you do?

If you’re like most people, you probably just open it and drink it anyway. Secondary options typically run to sticking it in the freezer for a few minutes, or using a wine-chilling gadget (like one of these) to bring the temperature down before your patience runs out.

Ravi is a new solution. It’s a gadget that you keep in the freezer, then break out and attach to the top of the bottle you just opened. The video below explains how it works better than words do (the instruction manual is particularly hard to follow), but it’s really quite simple in the end. Put the three pieces together (only one is frozen), and stick it on top of the wine bottle. Tip it over and the wine goes through the frozen sleeve and into your glass. It’s cellar temperature, or close enough, when it hits your goblet.

If it’s too warm (as with a white), just hold your thumb over the air intake valve and the wine comes out more slowly (and thus colder). It’s more art than science, but it beats filling ice buckets and, more importantly, sitting around and waiting all night.

That said, Ravi isn’t without some complications. It’s bulky and makes handling your wine bottle awkward at best; I kept worrying I would drop it and break my glass, spilling the wine everywhere. It’s a little messy, and cleanup takes quite some time, requiring you use a special device to shoot air through the Ravi to dry it out before you put it back in the freezer.

Still, it’s a great way to quickly bring wine down to the proper temperature (most red wine is served far too warm), and while I may not break it out every time I want a glass of Burgundy, it’ll definitely become another handy tool in my oenophile arsenal.

B+ / $50 / ravisolution.com

Winebloggin’: The Final Chapter

At long last, the final piece of the Winebloggin’ puzzle is in place. My Winepod is drained, my barrel emptied, and my 2007 Cabernet is in bottles… and to my great surprise, getting rave reviews.

Read the final chapter of the epic saga here!

Or catch up on the complete tale from the beginning: Parts 123456.

chris null bottles his wine Winebloggin: The Final Chapter

Review: Vinturi Wine Aerator

Every wine enthusiast ends up with drawers full of gadgets designed to enhance the flavor of wine, but a good old decanter is perhaps the best way to take both a tannic young wine or a musty old one and bring out the most pleasant characters of each without a lot of sitting around and waiting.

Vinturi attempts to go one better: This small, kazoo-sized/shaped device is designed to decant without the decanter. Just hold the Vinturi over your glass and pour the wine into the top. Holes on the side suck in air as it goes through, aerating the wine with a loud sucking sound and spitting your aerated wine out the bottom.

Nifty idea, and in my tests it worked fairly well: While fruity, young wines experienced no changes through the Vinturi (as you’d expect), some ancient cabs saw improvement by merely pouring them through the Vinturi, bringing out more fruit and floral notes and suppressing some older wines’ off flavors caused by spending too long in the bottle. In a nutshell, it’s just like a decanter and works about the same.

There are a few advantages with Vinturi over a decanter: Cleanup is far easier, and you can decant as you go. With most decanters, once you pour it in, you’re sunk. Pouring unfinished wine back into the bottle is tough if you don’t finish it off in one night, and simply stoppering up the decanter won’t save them to survive until the morrow.

On the downside, the Vinturi is loud, messy, and plastic. This isn’t something you’ll want on your elegant, white linen dining table, and even Vinturi notes that wine can shoot out the holes designed to bring air in. In fact, I never managed to pour wine into the Vinturi without some spilling out those holes. The sucking sound is also the slightest bit obscene, so warn your company in advance.

Overall, this is a great little gadget that’s perfect for when you don’t want to bother with the hassle and mess of getting out the crystal decanter.

B+ / $40 / vinturi.com [BUY IT HERE]

vinturi wine aerator Review: Vinturi Wine Aerator