Remember...and Raise Your Glass

by Tamra Bolton

This Monday is Memorial Day and I hope you spend a little time contemplating the sacrifices that have been made through the years, so we can enjoy our lives as free citizens.  My Dad is a 91 year old veteran of the Battle of Iwo Jima and we grew up being reminded of all the men who didn’t make it home and how much we owe those men and their families.  This weekend, make it a point to find a veteran and thank him for his service or a family for their sacrifice…you’ll never forget it, and neither will they.

Also on Monday, the 25th, we celebrate National Wine Day.  With summer looming on the calendar, my thoughts turn to some of my favorite gadgets and accessories for the wine lover. One of the neatest items you can own is a handy carrying case or backpack for picnics, lunch on the trail or at the park.  You can find them made out of canvas, leather or cushy neoprene, in all colors and styles.  Most range from $40-$100 and some, like mine, even include colorful cloth napkins, two or more non-breakable glasses (yes, that means plastic – I can hear some of you shudder), corkscrew and stopper.  With these handy totes, you are always ready for a last minute picnic or an impromptu walk by the lake.

If you don’t have a friend to help you finish a bottle, a reliable way to preserve it for later is a Vacu Vin wine preservation pump.  For only about $15-$30 you can save the quality of your opened wine and enjoy it tomorrow, believe me, they are worth every penny!  Or, if you would like a more elaborate system, you can purchase a Nitro Tap Wine Service Preservation System for about $395.  With the Nitro system, you can have three bottles or more ready to serve at any time, without damaging the nuances of the wines. 

The handiest gadget I have though is my electric corkscrew.  For $30-$70, you can save yourself the twisting, pulling, and the aggravation of the occasional broken corks by using one of these wonderful inventions.  The strength in my hands is not what it used to be, so my electric corkscrew is a lifesaver. 

The most beautiful accessory however, hands down, is the glass wine decanter.  I have a gorgeous Riedel version that is a joy to observe, even empty.  The decanter is a necessity with some wines in order to bring out the best experience.  Some wines need decanting up to an hour before serving and you might as well have something beautiful to look at while you wait.   Decanters come in all shapes and range from the simple curved bowl shape for around $30 to the elaborate “horn” design at around $725.  If your goal is to bring out the best in your wines, any decanter will do, but if you want to make a statement, there are plenty of outstanding forms to choose from. I recently ran across a system that is supposed to “instantly age your wine”.  For less than $50, I would no longer have to wait for my wine to breathe.  Somehow, that seemed to take all of the anticipation out of the experience.  But, if you’re in a hurry, I guess it could work.  If any of you have tried it, let me know.

Wine gadgets and accessories are fun and not everyone will use the same ones, that’s part of the pleasure…experimentation.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do for National Wine Day, but I recently read an article about the oldest bottle of wine.  In 1867, Archaeologists in Speyer, Germany discovered the oldest bottle of wine in existence while they were excavating two Roman stone sarcophagi.  It dates back to at least 325 AD.  The bottle of wine is now on display at the History Museum of the Pfalz in Germany.”   I was intrigued with the thought of a 1,790 year old bottle of wine.  Would you decant it?  Let those centuries of sediment settle out?  Who would have the honor of participating in the tasting?   Interesting things to contemplate, maybe that’s what I’ll be doing on NWD…daydreaming about impossible wines.

Have a safe and memorable holiday.