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Best under counter wine cooler

Best under counter wine cooler – I’ve come across a few wine chilling products that might be useful as summer approaches. Maybe you have forgotten to chill a bottle and want a quick cold glass of vino or you just need to keep your drink cool. Regardless, there are plenty of products out there, but these struck me as stylish and innovative.

The first is the Vacu Vin Cooling Carafe  to the right. This product uses non-ice cold packs that are inserted into a chilling base. You just put the beverage of choice into the carafe and let the cooling packs do their work. The cost is around $24 and it comes in black and white versions.

Unfortunately, the chilling base does not accommodate wine bottles, and the beverages must be used with the carafe provided. That is a bit annoying, but on the other hand it is more flexible for other drinks. If you want one for just wine, there is the elegant Vacu Vin Prestige Stainless-Steel Wine Cooler for just over $25.

Picture 3Vacu Vin also has a Rapid Ice Wine Cooler, which is a good option if you want something portable and only want to keep your wine at a nice chilled temperature. The wine coolers are basically chilled sleeves that fit over your bottle and come in many colors and patterns. They sell for $12 on Amazon, and I personally like the black and silver varieties.

As for chilling from room temperature, I don’t know if the claim that these wine sleeves can chill bottles in five minutes is accurate. After reading Amazon reviews, it looks as if it takes closer to 10 minutes and even then it doesn’t really get the bottle that cold. These packs are probably better for keeping pre-chilled bottles cold or to just slightly chill a red wine. Yes, red wines should also be served slightly chilled (55 to 65 degrees) depending upon the wine.

winesceptreThe next wine chilling product is the Wine Sceptre out of Germany. This device keeps a pre-chilled wine at the perfect temperature for drinking, but like other products also does not chill from room temperature. To use, you simply insert the chilled stainless steel rod into your wine bottle and it provides a cool core of metal to maintain the wine’s temperature. The product also has a flip-off top so you can pour the wine through the metal tube. It would be rather annoying if you had to take the rod out each time you wanted to pour a glass.

I like the idea of this a lot, as the rod is actually in the wine and doesn’t rely upon chilling from the outside, which means you are chilling the bottle too. Both the Vacu Vin chiller packs and the Wine Sceptre are also nice in that they eliminate the wet bottle. You’ll no longer have to use up your ice before a party for chilling wine, have soggy labels, or have to deal with a dripping bottle while pouring.

With that said, the price is really steep at $135, and a six-pack will run you $600. Ouch. At that price, maybe it is best just to finish the bottle before it gets warm.

If you want a cheaper option than the Wine Sceptre, Skybar has a Wine Cool Cover for $13 that will also maintain the temperature of your wine with a hip looking aluminum-finished cover that slips over your bottle. I would probably try this before the sceptre.

skybar-wine-drops-largeAnd the last product is also from Skybar. The Skybar Wine Chill Drops cost $13 and are made to chill individual glasses of room-temperature wine. They are very stylish and come in a set of two, so while you wait for the rest of your bottle to chill, you and another person can enjoy some cold wine using these individual chillers. You simply put the stainless steel bulbs in your glass, pour the wine, and let the cold metal chill your drink. The Skybar site claims that these chill drops cool a glass in as little as 90 seconds. Once the wine is to the desired temperature, you place the used chiller drops in the convenient stands. It’s a nice set-up if you ask me, and out of all the products, I think this one appeals to me the most.

If you want to chill wine the low-budget way, you can still use ice buckets or the freezer. When using an ice bucket, make sure to use water and ice and also add salt. This will cool the bottle in about 15 minutes.

If you just want to keep a glass of wine cool on a hot day, don’t use ice cubes, but instead freeze grapes and drop a few in your glass. This method won’t dilute the wine, but yet it will give some added cooling.

As for the desired temperature of different wines, Food & Wine has a nice cheat sheet on how long to refrigerate, freeze, or use and ice bucket for different wines. Just keep in mind that it takes over 2 hours in the refrigerator and at least 25 minutes in the freezer to achieve the desired temperature for whites — and sparkling wines will take even longer.

 

Best under counter wine cooler – Bringing win to a Party

Food & Wine had an article in the December issue about how to gift wine for a dinner party, and I thought some of the tips were pretty useful. I know a lot of people fret over bringing wine especially if they know that a person is a wine snob or just has a more developed palette. I’d probably put myself in the wine snob category, so maybe subconsciously this post is just to help people bring me better wine. Who knows.

So here are some of the tips and strategies on how to make a host happy with your wine gift.

  • Champagne or decent quality sparkling wine is always a good choice. It is a celebratory wine and the host can re-gift it if they don’t drink sparkling.
  • Wines that go well with a lot of foods and appeal to broader personal tastes are good choices. The usual suspect here is pinot noir. I also try to stay away from tart wines such as sauvignon blanc and really meaty fruit bombs such as zinfandel and amarone — unless I know that the host loves these types of wine.
  • For really special or expensive bottles, call ahead and ask what food the host is preparing. You can say that you will bring the perfect bottle and they will usually appreciate the help. This strategy will also ensure that your bottle will be opened. Nothing is worse than bringing a really nice wine and no one tries it.
  • Bring the wine as it should be served. This means chill your wine if you are bringing a white. If you don’t, you are just asking for the host not to open your bottle.
  • Try bringing a magnum. Though I know where the Food & Wine author is coming from on this one, for most people bringing a large two-bottle sized wine seems a bit odd as most people don’t buy them. But with that said, a magnum of good wine will definitely be appreciated and will simply have to be opened. If you go this route, just make sure it is good and not that bulk wine in big bottles from the bottom shelf.

If you are looking for a gift bag to bring the wine bottle in, Hero Bags has a nice option (see above). They have a one-bottle bag for $12.95 and a two-bottle bag for $14.95.

Another tip if you are hosting a party is to write guests’ names directly onto their wine glasses with a Sharpie to identify whose glass it is. The ink won’t smudge, but it will still come off with warm soap and water. If you worry that it won’t come off your nice glasses, then test try it first.

 

Best under counter wine cooler – Wine preferencies

Every now and then living in the Midwest annoys me, and it isn’t because of all the snow that we have been getting. (Though that freezing rain did take a long time to scrape off the driveway.)

No, it is because of the assumption that no one knows anything about wine. Of course, there is good basis for this belief because — in fact — few people do know a lot about wine up here in central Minnesota. Statistically, we are insignificant so it is only rational that we often get ignored.

Then I read a short article in Food & Wine from the January issue that made me rethink wine education. Maybe the problem is that so many wine lovers and sales people are just incapable of educating and inspiring non-wine lovers. The F&W article takes you through a series of four diagnostic questions to find out your wine preference. All of the questions are rather silly. They are essentially, a polished-up form of the same hackneyed wine store logic where a salesperson simply tries to find out if you like white or red or dry or sweet.

Just consider these questions:

(1) Which do you drink? Whole milk or skim milk?

Seriously? This is an absurd question. Do people really really have strong milk preferences outside of calorie and fat considerations? I’ve drunk 2% my whole life and that generally has nothing to do with my taste preferences but that fact I was brought up on it.

Anyhow, F&W maintains that if you like whole milk you will tend to go for rich, full-bodied Chardonnay or similar style wines. And if you like skim? Well then, you might like lighter-style wines such as Chablis.

Next question.

(2) Which juice do you prefer? Grapefruit or orange?

Ok, I know where they are going with this as some people don’t like tart wines, but is your juice preference the best way to flesh this out? I don’t think I have ever met a person claiming to love grapefruit juice.

The article maintains that if you prefer grapefruit then you like wines such as Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling, and orange juice lovers will prefer Chardonnay or Viognier.

I wish it were that simple, but it isn’t. I don’t like grapefruit juice, but I do really like Sauvignon Blanc and dry Riesling. Chardonnay tends to be one of my least favorite wines these days, but I like orange juice.

Third question.

(3) Which would you rather have on a steak? Cracked black pepper or béarnaise sauce?

If you like black pepper, F&W says you will like Syrah and other Rhone varieties, and if you prefer béarnaise sauce you might like a smooth California Merlot.

This question defies all logic. If you need help figuring out your wine preference through these questions, then most likely you won’t know what ‘other Rhone varieties’ are or what béarnaise sauce is. There is also a good chance that if you know your French sauces such as béarnaise and have a strong preference over cracked pepper, then you also won’t need this wine preference tutorial.

Last question.

(4) Which sounds more appealing? Black truffles or blackberries?

The wisdom here goes that if you like funky, earthy flavors such as truffles (not the candy) then you will prefer Pinot Noir, and if you like blackberries you tend to like Australian Shiraz and California Zinfandel.

At least the other questions had some common thread: milk, citrus, and pepper but this one has no common thread. It’s almost as if I asked you: Which do you want to eat? A steak with a nice sauce made of forest mushrooms or a freshly picked sun-ripened strawberry? It is extremely possible that you like both, eat both, and prefer them at different times during the year.

I could go on an on taking shots at these simple and misleading questions and how they really don’t help you figure out your taste, but this brings me back to the idea of wine in the Midwest. I guess it really isn’t about the Midwest per se, but a challenge of wine lovers trying to interact with and inform those who don’t drink wine so frequently.

The Food & Wine article is just a case in point. The person who wrote that short tutorial probably knows wine quite well, but advising wine in that way once again boils down to simple formulas. In the end it really isn’t that different than if you ask about Cabernet versus Merlot, dry over sweet, or white versus red.

I like almost all wines at least some of the time. I don’t usually prefer sweet wines, but I have had some great Vin Santo, Sauternes, and Tokay. Fruit-bomb Australian wines are not my go-to style these days, but I loved them when I first started drinking wine and will still drink them if I am serving something that a fruity red would compliment.

But most of all, regardless of what wines I am presently ‘into’, I will almost always try an interesting or surprising wine just for the fun of it. Sometimes I buy a wine and cook a meal around it, and I often break wine-food pairing rules. I still love crisp whites and roses well into the dark winter months, and I even like chilling my reds in the summer. Sorry.

In the end I just want a salesperson to inspire me — at least somewhat. I want to enter a wine store and just once have a that person say: “Hey you — yeah you, Come here. Do you want to try something fabulous? This wine is just amazing.” Then the person educates you on how it is unique and tastes so great, and you go home inspired to cook a great meal or even entertain some friends and family.

The best thing is that inspiration works for all types of wine drinkers, as we all just want something fabulous. That bottle of wine should be fun and inspiring; a guest at the table. Wine lovers try a great variety of wine looking for something new; it is not about narrowing tastes and preferences.

So the next time you are in a wine store ask for them to suggest a grape you have never tried. Ask for something interesting or a wine that person found surprising. Just, please oh please don’t ever choose your wine based upon if you like whole or skim milk.

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