A Near Miss And A Potent Hit (March 2016 Wine Product Roundup)

Forthwith, I present the March 2016 wine product roundup, this time on time, but only juuuuust!

This month, I’ve got two items from the sample pool to present, one of them a bit of a miss, the other potentially a hit (in both the it-totally-works and the painful-punch-to-the-gut senses of the word, which will make more sense in a minute or two).

Dialing it up? (image: sponti.com)

In terms of the near-miss, we have Sponti’s Catalyst Ultimate Wine Server, which as far as I can discern is not yet available for purchase. The idea behind the Catalyst is a combination of wine pourer and aerator, only the aeration is adjustable thanks to a nifty little dial on the back of the pourer.

As a pourer, the Catalyst works as well as any similar in-bottle-pourer, minimizing post-pouring-action dripping. As an aerator, I get decidedly mixed results from the thing. The adjustment of the dial is easy, but I had two issues with that: 1) the lower settings seemed to do very little in terms of actually impacting the aromas and flavors of the wines on which I tried it, and 2) it’s easy to go a bit wild and end up turning the dial so far that you loosen it entirely (adding a simple plastic notch in the design might prevent this, but might complicate cleaning the unit if it prevented the dial from being removed).

It’s easy to clean, but its plastic design also feels a bit on the cheap side. I’d have to wait and see the final price, but generally speaking I think more works needs to be done to tweak this item.

Now, onto the Potent Hit portion of this month’s round-up…

A Near Miss And A Potent Hit (March 2016 Wine Product Roundup)

Skeptics, rejoice! (image: amazon.com)

If you want to have your wine mind blown, I recommend turning to science, specifically the controversial take on vino given by Mark Matthews (Professor of Viticulture at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Food and Wine Science at UC Davis). His latest book, Terroir and Other Myths of Winegrowing ($35, University of California Press), takes a rather skeptical (and rather long overdue) scientific look at some of the more romanticized (and even more taken-for-granted-and-regurgitated) notions about growing and crafting fine wine (including the impacts of soils, berry size, and biodynamics).

I’ll quote briefly from the Epilogue of Terroir and Other Myths of Winegrowing, which sums up what you can expect from this somewhat-difficult but also somewhat fascinating read:

“…viticulture could just as well drop terroir and the other myths of winegrowing. We clearly do not know as much about winegrowing as the conventional wisdom indicates, because predictions of the popular myths are so often not realized.”

That’s not a spoiler, because the meat of the book is in how Matthews gets there (hint: by citing experimental data and trying to disprove hypotheses, rather than sucking down the conventional wine biz Kool-Aid). It’s not a quick or an easy read, and at points the prose becomes excessively academic to the point of almost being tedious; but it’s a worthwhile read, and one that you cannot “un-know.”


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