August 2015 newsletter
A New Invention that works!
My antique wine accessories are all inventions of the past and have survived because they were, and still are, successful. For example, the Georgian decanter has never been improved as an elegant means of displaying wine and, of ridding it of its sediment and malodorous elements. More importantly it pours well. But what of more recent inventions?
Modern technology and analytical wine appreciation have allowed numerous inventive devices. There are special refrigerators to keep wine at an ideal temperature, and wine glasses designed to bring out the best of specific grape varieties. Such improvements and many more have proliferated in recent years. I am delighted by the fact that I can now put my wine glasses in the dishwasher without becoming cloudy and modern corkscrews make drawing a cork considerably easier than their older counterparts. By contrast, aeration devices have very doubtful outcomes and like many who have conducted comparative tests, I feel a decanter does a much better job of presenting wine at its best. Some even say that aerators can ruin a good wine!
With temperature-controlled wine cellaring and crystal-clear, well-shaped glasses served from a decanter, I was unable to think of any further wine device I could put to good use. However, I hadn't heard of what follows. I have just been given something which I find is innovative, useful, simple and doesn't tamper with the wine.
Most of us have decanted wine at some time or another and probably done so with the aid of a candle to see when the sediment requires us to stop the process. Because of the smokiness of a candle, the heat (right under the wine), finding a candle holder of the right height, and the inconsistency of candle light, I found it a rigmarole too much. The device I have been given, has solved all these issues at a stroke and I am delighted. My only sadness is that I seldom have the pleasure of opening a bottle of wine that has thrown a sediment and therefore needsdecanting!
Pourvin in Silicone or Stainless Steel
The device is called a Pourvin and is a shaped silicone 'sleeve' which slips easily over the neck of the bottle. When the bottle is tilted, a light (LED to minimise heat and electricity consumption) comes on at just the correct point at the base of the neck of the bottle so that any sediment is immediately seen and the pouring can be brought to a gentle halt. When the bottle is returned to upright, the light goes out. It is as simple as that. There is no switch - the tilt of the bottle turns the light on and off automatically. I like the device so much that I have decided to put it on my website and at £35, it's a lot less than some other businesses charge! There is a stainless steel version at £72 for that special present... !
P.S. and N.B. Wine does not have to have thrown a sediment to be improved by decanting. Almost all wines, red and white, are enhanced by being decanted.
Most people who are self-employed, cut off their income stream when they take a holiday, but we in the antiques trade are more fortunate - particularly if we take a break in the UK. Last week, we ventured south to Sussex and enjoyed the very different scenery, architecture and restaurants, not to mention the superb theatre at Chichester, which I remember being built in the early 1960s when I lived nearby. On our break, the occasional antique shop did not escape my notice either, and I emerged with some very choice pieces to bring home.
Many years ago, my father bought a decanter which he decided to keep. It was a very unusual ship's decanter which was a rare shape. I sold it a few years ago; it is one of the very few things that I later regretted selling. However, while we were in Sussex I came across a similar decanter - and its pair so, not only do I fell less regretful about selling the family decanter, but also much joy in finding something that gives as much pleasure as any decanters I currently have to offer - or indeed any I own for our own use.
A Pair of Fine Ship's Decanters of c.1800
Treading on Dangerous Ground!
I seldom venture a public opinion on wine as there are others considerably more qualified than me, but I did have an occasion to taste two chardonnays together a week or two ago. My better half (she reads these) was given a pair of tickets to see Neil Diamond at the O2 Arena and took a friend with her as Mr. Diamond is 'not my bag'. I took her friend's husband to a nearby Japanese eaterie called Zaibatsu - self- described as a "Compact cafe-style Asian diner". They serve no alcohol, but charge no corkage either - a fine excuse to take a good bottle!
So I took two bottles; the first was an Australian chardonnay from Aldi at £3.99 a bottle. While no great wine, it was utterly quaffable, the second bottle was a Ten Minutes by Tractor 'Wallis' 2011, also from Australia. I have to say it was no contest; the TMBT was a superb single vineyard wine of rich complexity and character. There is a very comprehensive appreciation of it to be found on the TMBT website under 2011-2012 reviews. If you can find a bottle, it is worth all those pennies!
P.S. The Japanese/fusion food was delicious and extremely pocket-friendly!