Wednesday, November 26, 2008

WHY WINE: Ice, wine and Champagne Buckets

Most ice buckets hold one or two wine bottles. But there are some that resemble Mom's old washtub that can hold many soda cans and/or wine bottles. While most of the large ice buckets are made out of metal, plastic polyurethane ice buckets are becoming very popular. They are light in weight, portable, non-breakable and because of the polyurethane skinned foamed construction, have very little condensation. And they also have a lid which helps to keep the ice from melting fast.

When shopping for a wine bucket or especially a champagne bucket, make sure it's tall enough to submerge the wine bottle up to the neck in the ice. Since ice buckets today hold from one quart to four quarts of ice, there are plenty of choices to choose the size you need. Some ice buckets are double-walled insulated. This helps to stop the ice from melting for a hour or more in hot weather. Glass ice buckets have a double disadvantage. Not only are they not doubled-walled, but condensation forms on the glass from the ice and contributes to the ice melting faster. But for romantic dinners, nothing beats a crystal ice bucket...holding your favorite a crystal vase full of your favorite flowers...sparkling from the candle held in a crystal candle holder...with soft music playing in the background...across from your sweetheart. AHH...

Ice buckets today are much more than simple tin buckets. Some improvements to look for are:

1) A strainer on the inside bottom to keep the wine bottle away from the melting water.

2) A plastic insert to place the wine bottle in, so the wine bottle doesn't get wet from melting water.

3) Tongs or a scoop to keep fingers out of the ice. If you get the tongs, make sure they're big enough to pick up an ice cube. A scoop would be better if you serve large quantities of mixed drinks.

4) A tong or scoop holder attached to the side of the ice bucket. This prevents misplacement of the tongs or scoop - usually.

5) Removable lids are preferred because it's easier to fill the ice bucket with ice and wine bottles. Flip lids are a new invention and are becoming popular. Because the flip lid is attached to the ice bucket and only half the lid opens up, if you use the ice bucket as a bucket to store ice in, it prevents a lot of the cold air from escaping the ice bucket when ice is taken out and helps keep the ice from melting.

6) A non-skid bottom prevents the ice bucket accidentally sliding in a wet spot or on polished furniture.

7) Side handles are great when picking up an ice bucket, especially a heavy ice bucket.

8) A stand to place the ice bucket on so guests don't have to bend down during a party and little children can't play in the ice.

9) Monogrammed ice buckets are great wedding presents.

10) Plastic ice bucket in any color of you choice and customized logos too.

The one thing that most people have against ice buckets, is the melting water. In certain ice buckets, liquid nitrogen, dry ice or solutions that are cold (like what's in a sports ice pack that you shake and it gets cold), are being used. We recently read of an ice bucket made out of plastic polyurethane that has electric lights. You plug it in and the ice bucket cycles through seven different colors. It's remote controlled and lasts for 50,000 hours. With all this new technology, can a battery powered or solar powered ice bucket be far away?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

WHY WINE: wine clubs

As with any investment, before you join a wine club, research the clubs you think you would like to join.
1) What type of club you are interested in: Would you like Italian wines, California wines, International wines, Canadian wines, kosher wines or wines from a certain vineyard?
2) How much do you wish to spend per bottle? $10.00, $100.00 or more?
3) Do you want monthly, quarterly, yearly or on request shipping?
4) Is there a membership fee?
5) Is there a minimum amount you must order?
6) Is there a cancellation fee?
7) Is there a return policy for unwanted bottles or shipments?
8) Does the club offer discounts?
9) Is there free shipping? By who? And what is their delivery policy?
10) Is there freebies offered? If so, what is required to receive them?
11) Does the club offer written info on the wines offered or mailed?
12) How long has the club been in existence, who runs it, are there any testimonies from current members and will they mail to your state?
13) Do they sell estate wines or table wines that you wouldn’t normally buy?

Once you are satisfied with your research, join the club, order, sit back, accept delivery and enjoy a bottle of wine that you probably couldn’t have bought locally.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

WHY WINE: CORKSCREWS: part two 'types'

The basic corkscrew has a pointed metal helix, called a worm, and a crossbar used for pulling the cork out of the neck of the wine bottle. This is accomplished by screwing the worm into the cork and pulling the cork up and out of the wine bottle. The only fault with this kind of corkscrew is that it take a lot of strength to pull the cork out, while holding the bottle down.

An improvement on this design was to have something on the bottle to hold the bottle down while you pull up. There are two popular versions of this improvement:

1) The wing corkscrew (also referred to as the butterfly or angel corkscrew) is most common in households. It has 2 levers on either side of the worm, which goes through a metal ring (or collar) that sits on top of the bottle neck. As you screw the worm into the cork, the force between the worm, ring, bottle and cork, makes the cork loosen and begin to rise out of the bottle. (If you need to know more detail - please see a physics teacher). This also causes the levers to rise. When the levers are up, you push the down and the cork will rise further. Continue to do this until you can pull the cork completely out of the wine bottle. Another feature of this type of wine bottle opener is that usually a bottle opener is fashioned on the top of the worm shaft.

2) The sommelier knife (also referred to as the waiter's friend), is a bottle wine opener most commonly used in restaurants by waiters and waitresses. It folds up like a pocket knife. The crossbar for gripping has a hinged worm, a bracing arm to hook onto the neck of the wine bottle to assist in the lifting out of the cork, and a small knife used to remove the foil cap.

In modern times, the wine bottle openers are just variations of these designs. With the introduction of gas driven worms and electricity, you no longer need to expend any energy to remove the cork. They have become very fast, efficient and automatic, but not as romantic as opening a bottle of wine over a candle light dinner.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008



Wine bottle openers or corkscrews are gadgets used to remove corks from the neck of wine bottles. Gun manufacturers in 17th century England, sold an accessory with their muskets and pistols called a bullet removing "worm". It was a long spiraled piece of metal that could remove unspent charges from the barrel of their weapon.

Corks in that century, were used to seal barrels of beer and cider. The corks were long enough to grasp with their fingers. This allowed the user to open and reseal the cask as needed. In the 18th century, wineries discovered that by using bottles and putting the entire cork into the neck of the wine bottle to prevent air from entering the bottle, wine could be kept for longer periods of time. This lead to the ability to "age wine" and transport the wine long distances.

The bullet removing worm was used to remove the cork and became known as a corkscrew. Not only did this give the gun manufactures a sideline which became very profitable, but it allowed the wine industry to increase dramatically. The aging of the wine created much better tasting wines. This lead to a higher demand for these wines, which lead to more production of wine and higher prices for the "aged wine".

Today, wine bottle openers come in all shapes and sizes from the basic corkscrew to the complicated carbon dioxide driven openers. Simple wine bottle openers cost about $2.00. The professional wine bottle openers that restaurants, bars and wineries use, can cost $2,500 or more.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Red wine facts

Red wine can be light pink, rose, red or a deep burgundy. If the rim of the wine against a glass is ruby or purple in color, that means that the wine is very young, with a brash and tannic taste. An orange tint or translucent color means that the wine has oxidized and aged and is mellow with a well balanced taste.
Scent or taste:
Earth: Cedar, dirt, leaves, eucalyptus, forest, stone
Farm scents: Barnyard, game, horse blanket, manure, sweat, wet dog
Floral: Geranium, rose, violet
Fruits: Blackberry, black currant, blueberry, boysenberry, cherry, cranberry, figs, gooseberry, orange peel, plum, pomegranate, prunes, raisins, raspberry, strawberry
Kitchen: Bacon, baked pies, bitter chocolate, cocoa, coffee, cola, espresso, cinnamon, cloves, licorice, milk chocolate, mint, mocha, pepper, spiced tea, thyme, toast
Man-made: Cigar box, leather, pipe tobacco, tar, smoke, old shoes
Vegetables: Asparagus, bell peppers, green beans, mushrooms, olives, truffles
Molasses, oak, soy sauce, toast and vanilla come from the wooden barrel the wine was aged in.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


White Wine facts
Good white wine is clear in color with a hint of green or gold. An orange or brown color means that too much oxygen has entered the wine. A green tinge means that the wine is a young, dry wine. Wine aged in an oak barrel will have a golden brown or translucent color and taste like nectar.
Scent or Taste:
Good white wine will have a clean smell or taste with one or several of the following:
Citrus: Grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange
Earth smells: Chalk, flint, minerals, slate, stone
Floral: Gardenia, geranium, honeysuckle, orange blossom, rose
Fruit: Apple, apricot, bananas, coconut, fig, lyche, mango, melon, peach, pear, pineapple
Man–made: Biscuits, bread dough, butter, butterscotch, caramel, cream, custard, gasoline, rubber boots, yeast
Nuts: Almonds, hazelnuts, roasted nuts
Outdoors: Fresh cut grass, hay, honey, straw
Spices: Cinnamon, cloves, dill, ginger, pepper
Vegetables: Asparagus, bell peppers, celery, green beans, olives
Basement or wet sock smell comes from the cork.
Oak tree, toast or vanilla comes from the wooden barrel the wine was aged in.