Over 50 Gifts for Wine Lovers: The Ultimate gift guide

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Autumn is coming to a close, and that means that we’re on the fast track to fall and winter festivity. So, in preparation for the 2019 holiday season, we’ve rounded up the best wine gifts for the wine connoisseurs, wine enthusiasts, and sommeliers on your gift list.

You won’t find trendy trinkets, wine t-shirts, or silly slogans on this list. Instead, you’ll find timeless items that wine lovers will truly love (and that we have personally used - and loved! - ourselves).

Use the links below to search by category:

Wine Preservation Gifts

Coravin Model Eleven Fully Automatic Wine Preservation System 

This is the ultimate gift for the wine collector who has been coveting the Coravin, has a passion for all things wireless, and is a total gadget fanatic.  Enjoy wine by the glass without removing the cork! This bundle also has accessories for screw-cap wines.  

Coravin Model 2 Premium Wine Preservation System

Know a wine lover who has everything, but still want to be able to pay you rent after you buy their present? Here’s the Model Eleven’s little sister, the Model 2.  Enjoy wine by the glass without removing the cork, and without all the frills of the Model Eleven.  

Eurocave WineArt Preservation System

This attractive wine preservation system is ideal for the wine connoisseur who opens one or two bottles a week and intends to consume the wine in under seven days. This system is designed to sit on countertops and fits under most cabinetry, helping to eliminate the risk of partially consumed wine bottles being hidden in the refrigerator and forgotten.  

Wine Saver Vacuum Pump Preserver

Great for the wine enthusiast on a limited budget, with limited space for bulky wine preservation systems. This system stores nicely in a kitchen drawer and is also good for holidays when many bottles may be partially consumed.

Wine Folly Champagne Stopper Made in Italy

Can’t finish that bottle of bubbly in one evening?  No worries, use this heavy made-in-Italy Champagne stopper, refrigerate it, and you’ll still have fizz two days later (or more)! Works for other sparkling wines as well and is a thoughtful gift for Mimosa lovers.

Repour Wine Saver - Wine Saver, Stopper

Don’t care for all the gadgets, and simply want a good stopper? This Repour Wine Saver, used by a growing number of wine bars, is good if you want to minimize oxidation and plan to finish that bottle in three or more days.  

In-Home Wine Dispenser - Just Like Wine Bars

Now you can have the look and ease of a fine wine bar in the comfort of your home. For that partner that sees an Enomatic at the wine bar and wants to take it home, here’s the solution!

Wine Storage Gifts

Best Large Wine Cabinet

Check out our review on living with a Eurocave wine cabinet for over five years (coming soon!).  We personally own a Eurocave 283, but also love the Artevino, which is a little smaller, storing approximately 200 bottles.

Best Small Wine Refrigerator

Check out our review on the best small wine refrigerators , and see our top pick here:

Made in America Wine Racks

Already have a cool, dark place to store wine?  Here’s our favorite wood wine rack by Wine Racks America. Store 72 wines in your closet, basement or wine cave.

Metal Wall Wine Rack

No cellar? No problem. Display a few wines you will consume in the coming weeks right on your wall.  Good gift for wine lovers in townhomes and apartments.

Wine Glassware Gifts

Gabriel Gold Glas Universal Wine Glass

Check out our Gabriel Glas Gold article for a full review.  This is our favorite feather-light go-to glass.

Zalto Universal Glass

Ideal for those who love the thought of fine rimmed bows and delicate stemware, but want a more robust feel in their hands without sacrificing a great bowl.  

Gabriel Glas Decanter

We just love the look and feel of this mouth-blown, Austrian crystal, lead-free decanter. It is easier to clean than some other artistic decanters on the market.

Everyday Decanter - Le Chateau Wine Decanter

This lead-free crystal decanter is a good step up from big-box store decanters. Price point is good for home parties where one mis-step could lead to broken glassware on your floor or in your sink. 

Wine Service Gifts

Waterford Crystal Wine Bottle Coaster

This is a nice gift for anyone wanting to own one piece of Waterford. It adds a splash of elegance, and is a good paperweight when not holding a bottle of wine.

Stainless Steel Wine Bottle Coaster 4-pack

We use these frequently in North Carolina when cool white wines start to sweat after being removed from the refrigerator. Keep your table looking nice with this coaster 4-pack.

Champagne Wine Bucket with Stand

Regardless of your wine preference, this bucket and stand pair is great for keeping sparkling and white wines (as well as craft beer bombers) cool on hot summer evenings. With a combined weight of 6 pounds, it can prop open patio doors, and with its stainless steel construction, if you accidentally leave it outside overnight it will not rust. Instead, it becomes the Best. Birdbath. Ever.

Vacu-Vin Wine and Champagne Cooler  

No space for a Champagne wine bucket? No problem. These re-usable and foldable wine sleeves cool down warm wines quickly. Simply store them in the freezer between uses.

American Metalcraft Wine Service Tray

These stainless serving trays can be used to transport wine bottles and glassware, as well as food between tables or food stations.  

Serviette (aka White Cloth Restaurant Napkin)

Sommeliers use these simple white cloths to cover the service tray (to prevent bottle and glassware slippage while walking) as well as to wipe bottles and stop drips during pouring.  

Wine Tasting Gifts

KnowWines Wine Tasting Class

Get a group together and organize a wine tasting to explore new tastes as well as build community. Contact us for an in-person class.  We can customize classes to fit your needs.

Not in North Carolina? No problem. Contact your local wine bottle shop or wine bar to see if they offer classes on site or can send someone (and some wines!) to your home.

Wine Tasting Grid Mat

Setting up your own wine tasting?  These wine tasting grids double as placemats.  Also check out our blog on how to do a wine tasting in your home.

Blind Tasting Wines

This wine subscription aims to present to you wines to explore with their identities covered.  Taste with friends or family and see who guesses the best. Once you unveil the wine, you can learn more about it in enclosed envelope.

Wine Glass Cleaning Supply Gifts

So your wine loving friend already has a kitchen or dining room full of wine accessories.  For the neat-nik in your life, a thoughtful collection of cleaning supplies in a gift basket might do the trick.

Riedel Microfiber Polishing Cloth

After five years of home glass-polishing use, ours are still going strong. 

Crystal Glass Cleaning Sponge with Handle

There are so many different types of glass cleaning sponges on the market. What makes this one stand out is the scratch/free brush and the bamboo handle that allows you to stand it up to dry. 

Polident

Can’t get that red wine stain out of glassware? Let it soak overnight with Polident.

Decanter Cleaning Brush and Beads

Decanter brushes and beads get in all the nooks and crannies where typical brushes cannot go.  

Decanter Stand

Once your decanter is washed, it can be dried and stored on this decanter stand with rubberized ring that prevents scratching of the decanter neck and body.

Wine Travel Gifts

North Carolina Wine Trails

Plan a weekend getaway exploring North Carolina’s gorgeous wine trails.

Napa and Sonoma

Plan the ultimate West Coast wine adventure using our detailed guide to Napa and Sonoma.

Bordeaux

Treat yourself to a beautiful trip in Bordeaux with our guide for women traveling solo in that region.

Rhone

Become a Rhone Ranger and gift your partner a journey to this beautiful, rustic region.

Virginia

Virginia is for lovers! So what could be more romantic than a Virginia wine trip for two?

Wine Gift Bags

Two Wine Carrying Bag

Read our blog reusable wine bags for more ideas in this category. (But, spoiler alert: this is our top pick!):

Wine suitcase

Traveling to wine country and need to bring back bottles in checked luggage? Check out our blog to learn more about traveling with and packing wine. And for your gifting needs, here’s our favorite wine luggage:

Wine Bag for Wine Sales Person

Have a friend or family member in the wine business who could use a high quality bag for carrying samples?  This is the wine bag we personally use when teaching wine classes.  

Wine Stocking Stuffers

Wine Stain Remover

If you happen to spill some wine on your clothes, the carpet, or your friend’s jacket, this Made-in-Texas product really does work on fresh wine spills!  It is available in a 4.8-ounce bottle for home use and single-use packages for dining out and travel.

Wine Opener

Check out our review of wine openers.  Here’s our top pick for gift giving, for quick reference:

Wine Charms

In 2019 we reviewed wine charms. One of our favorites, Simply Charmed, also makes holiday-themed magnetic wine charms:

Yeti wine tumbler

Whether you need to keep wine cool in the summer or your gluhwine warm during the holidays, we found this excellent Yeti tumbler can meet both needs.  

Free and Low Cost Wine Gifts

Subscription to a Wine Podcast

Have a friend who doesn’t know how to download wine podcasts?  Spend an hour at a wine bar with them and get them set up! Some of our favorite wine podcasts are Wine for Normal People, Vinepair, and Guild of Sommeliers.

Wine Games

Download some FREE wine word search games to alleviate cabin fever or to pass time in the car or airport!

Wine Tasting

Learn about local wine tasting events, both free and with fees, through this great site.

Wine Magazine Subscriptions

Decanter

This leading wine magazine from the UK offers a European perspective on wines and is often regarded as the world’s leading magazine on wines. The magazine covers many areas, including vintages, winemakers, destinations, farming practices, and industry news, as well as wine ratings.  

Decanter UK
Ti Media Limited

Wine Spectator

The leading wine lifestyle magazine in the United States with a US consumer focus. Short stories and features on winemakers, wine regions, and wine collectors. Also includes wine reviews.  

Wine Spectator
Shanken Communications

Wine Gift Books

Snob-Free Wine Book 

By podcaster and Raleigh, NC resident Elisabeth Schneider, this book is great for GenXers and your favorite sceptic.

New Wine Book

The perfect wine book for a visual learner.

Becoming a Sommelier

Go behind the scenes with Somm Rosie Schaap, author of Drinking With Men: A Memior.

World Atlas of Wine 8th Edition

Just in time for the holidays, an update to the beloved Wine Atlas. 230 maps!

And that’s a (gift) wrap!

We look forward to adding to the 50+ items on this list as new, high-quality products become available. What will you be gifting to that special wine lover in your life this season? Let us know in the comment section below!

And yes, several of these links are affiliate links.  What that means is that we get a small commission from some sellers at no additional cost to you.  These commissions allow us to buy and try products and give you some insight on these products from the perspective of a fellow wine lover.  

Happy shopping!

















































































The Top Seven Single Wine Bottle Holders

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Many wine enthusiasts like single wine bottle holders because they provide an attractive conversation piece on the countertop or table while their guests are enjoying wine.  There are many types of single wine bottle holders available from artisans and from online retailers. 

We’ve scoured the internet and found the very best, up-to-date wine holders, any one of which may be a good addition to your dining space or a nice gift for a wine-loving friend.

Why would I want a single wine bottle holder?

A single wine bottle holder is a decorative way to show off a prized bottle of wine.  The wine bottle holder might be minimalistic - intended to display the fine wine. Or, you may prefer a bolder wine holder - a conversation piece beside the cheese tray.

Wine bottle holders, which can be constructed from wood, wire, plastic, or all of the above, have become very popular home decor items.  Also, a wine bottle holder can be an easy, quick gift for the wine lover who “has it all.”

How do I choose a wine bottle holder?

Whether you are purchasing the wine bottle holder as a gift or for your own home, there are a few things to consider.

Construction

Wine bottle displays can be constructed from wood, wire, plastic, wire, resin or a combination all of the above.  

Aesthetic

Since wine bottle holders are home decor, the design aesthetic is a big focus.  Consider who will be using the wine bottle holder. Do they intend to use the product seasonally or throughout the year? Do they like funny/quirky things or are they more traditional?

Space

If the apartment dweller or homeowner has limited space, then a large single wine bottle holder might take up too much space.  They may prefer a wall-mounted item.  

Quality

Since these items fall into the kitchen home decor category, they are typically low to moderately priced.  One-of-a-kind wine bottle holders can be premium priced. However, since those items are very specific we limit our reviews to items that are mass-produced but not low quality.   

Do I need a wine bottle holder?

No, a wine bottle holder is not a necessity for a wine collector.  Its purpose is to show off a bottle of wine or to serve as a conversation piece in its own right.  Most often, single wine bottle holders serve as a unique piece of art reflecting the style and aesthetic of the wine owner. There’s not a single, go-to brand of wine bottle holder.  

Precautions to consider

The wine bottle holder exposes the wine bottle to light, heat, and vibration, all of which can affect the wine. For more on long-term storage of wine, check out our wine storage article.  

If you are gifting a single wine bottle holder, acknowledge that minimalists may find them cluttering.
Best wine bottle holders

And the best single wine bottle holders are ….

Best Wooden Wine Bottle Holder

This hardwood wine bottle holder would be a good bet for anyone whose design style you’re not sure of. It does not look or feel cheap and would make a good gift for someone who would like to show off a single Napa Cabernet Sauvignon to guests. This is our pick for that conservative or traditional wine enthusiast in your life.
Pros:

  • Unique gravity-defying shape - does not look like every other wine bottle holder on the market

  • Dark finish and minimalist design complement many home decor styles

  • Comes in a nice box for easy wrapping - no need to wrap an awkward shape

Cons:

  • Free accompanying bottle stopper seems like an odd freebie (but hey, it’s free!)

Best Metal Wine Bottle Holder

We love this simple, stainless steel wine bottle holder as our favorite metal wine bottle holder.  If you (or the gift recipient) want to showcase the wine instead of the bottle holder itself, this might be a good selection.  

Pros:

  • No design elements near the neck of the wine bottle - so it can acomodate 750 mL bottles of various sizes and lengths

  • Matches most stainless steel kitchen appliances

  • Rust resistant - if you entertain outside and accidentally leave it outdoors a few times, it won’t rust

Cons:

  • Might look a little too simple or industrial for those who would prefer a little more character in their wine bottle holder

Best Floating Wine Bottle Holder (in Cowboy Up! Or Ships Ahoy!)

Yes, you can have the best of both worlds - minimalist design that won’t detract from a great bottle of wine AND a topic of discussion at your next party.  

Pro:

  • Makes guests look twice

  • Design is not obtrusive

Con:

  • Only available in white

  • Might get tipped over in a crowded or busy space

Best Wall Mounted Wine Bottle Holder

Many wall mounted wine bottle holders detract from the wine bottle.  Our top pick lets the label do all the talking.   

Pros:

  • Minimalist design - you see the wine bottle not the holder

  • Can be used at room temperature (in a kitchen) or in a wine cellar 

  • Easy to install

Cons:

  • The holder does stick out of the wall a little bit - you will not want to mount one right next to a doorway

Best Animal Wine Bottle Holder

There are so many animal wine bottle holders available online, it was so hard to pick one!  If you don’t know what type of animal a gift recipient likes, an octopus is a good compromise (they’re quite intelligent, and fun to look at, too!).  This wine holder is also a great gift for nautical themed condos or beach homes - or Kraken lovers.  This guy’s tentacles don’t get in the way of the top of the bottle, so it can acomodates a variety of bottle lengths and sizes.  

Pros:

  • Some of the animal wine bottle holders have the bottle aimed at the animal’s mouth.  While this may elicit a chuckle, some people consider it a little on the silly side. Also, those designs might not fit all bottle types.  This one allows for more flexibility in bottle size.

Cons:

  • Don’t store the wine for long in an upright position as the cork will dry out!

Best Unique Wine Bottle Holder (Perfect for Halloween!)

Worried about having a lifeless party?  Why not liven it up with this Undead single bottle wine holder? This is a perfect gift for fans of The Walking Dead or Santa Clarita Diet (or for anyone who loves Halloween).

Pros:

  • Weighing in at a little over three pounds, this resin wine holder is a sturdy piece

  • Very detailed gore on the zombie neck, face and arms

Cons:

  • Does not hold odd wine bottle sizes or odd liquor bottle sizes

Best Wine Holder for Boxed Wine

Who says boxed wine doesn’t deserve a spotlight. We say, “No wine left behind!”

Entertaining a crowd?  Need to take wine to the beach or pool where glass is a no-no? Discard that carboard box and place that bag of wine inside this stylish wood box!  The way this wood box is designed, you can actually get all the wine out of the bag (in some cardboard boxes it is tricky to get all the wine out).

The best part about wine in a bag is that if you don’t finish it all, it will keep for many days.  While much of boxed wine here in the US is nameless plonk in a box, there is an increasing number of good value wine being placed in these containers.  

Pro Tip: Purchase more than one for a party and then use one for wine and the other for any other spirited cocktail under 80 proof.  

Pros:  

  • Good for weddings or big parties when you want to avoid unsightly cardboard boxes

  • Home winemaker?  Fill the bag with your own creation and label with the free accompanying chalk

  • Accompanying bags can be filled with bottled wine as well

Cons:

  • A little bulky - you’ll need to find a place to store it when not in use

And the winner is…

The floating lasso bottle holder!

We like that this wine holder showcased the wine, yet was intriguing enough to be a topic of discussion at an indoor or outdoor party.  Also, the white color complements or contrasts a lot of trendy decor and surfaces.  It would fit right at home in a range of decor styles - beach, cowboy chic, or rustic modern.  

Good luck choosing the wine bottle holder that’s just right for your entertaining or gifting needs!

Cheers!

Gabriel Glas Gold Crystal Wine Glass: The KnowWines Review

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There are a lot of choices out there when it comes to crystal wine glasses, and it can be overwhelming for wine enthusiasts who are concerned with having “the right” glassware. A common problem is having no specific strategy for purchasing glassware and thus ending up with a mismatched, motley collection.

The Gabriel Glas Gold crystal wine glass did not exist when we started purchasing crystal glassware at KnowWines, but we wish it had.! The Gabriel Glas Gold is our go-to wine glass when enjoying fine wine. If you are looking for one universal wine glass, the Gabriel Glas Gold universal wine glass may be the one for you.  

Things to consider before buying Gabriel Glas Gold

Here’s something to consider: purchasing many different sets of fine glassware to fill perceived niches, like “varietal specific glassware,” for example, is generally a waste of money.  At the other end of the spectrum, cheap glassware can be disappointing when trying to enjoy a fine wine.

The ideal customer for the Gabriel Glas Gold is someone interested in a universal fine wine crystal glassware with the primary purpose of enjoying a fine wine as a solo enthusiast, as a couple, or with a few key fellow wine lovers. Before buying fine crystal glassware, consider how much you want to spend, aesthetics of the glass, the balance of the glass in your hand, and finally, its construction.

The Gabriel Glas Gold

The Gabriel Glas Gold is mouth-blown crystal stemware.  Unlike other fine wine glassware on the market, the Gabriel Glas Gold is constructed of a single piece of mouth-blown glass and is not molded.

The promise of Gabriel Glas is that it is the only wine glass you will need for unbelievable wine enjoyment and for use with any grape varietal. Compared to the market leaders, Gabriel Glas Gold is more decadent and lighter weight.  

The product is for

  • People looking for a universal crystal wine glass for fine wine drinking

  • People looking for a fine wine glass that is hand blown and not molded - eliminating stress points found on much other glassware

  • People looking for a fine wine glass that feels like the extension of one’s own hand

The product is not for

  • People (or their guests) who break glassware easily

  • People looking for variety-specific glassware

  • People looking for cheap glassware for entertaining

Gabriel Glas Gold Features & Benefits

This wine glass is also good for people who want one of the lightest, most delicate feeling wine glasses.

When considering fine crystal glassware, consider pleasurability, construction, cost, shape, universality, durability, and ease of cleaning (and make sure it is lead free!).

What’s the pleasure quotient for Gabriel Glas Gold?

We remember the exact moment when we first experienced the Gabriel Glas Gold. It was in a wine shop cellar in St. Emilion, France.  We were part of a wine tour, and we stayed behind to continue tasting at ETS Wine Shop.

The shape of the glass caught our eye.  We’ve seen a lot of wine glasses, but this one looked particularly sexy and appealing.  When we asked to hold the glass, we could not believe how light it was. Then, the wine shop employee had us taste a white Burgundy wine (at the 20 Euro price point) from two well-known and widely-distributed brands of wine glasses, as well as the Gabriel Glas Gold.  The Gabriel Glas Gold greatly enhanced the aromas of the wine and the delicate feel of the glass enhanced the overall experience. We felt that the wine, in a Gabriel Glas Gold glass, tasted much finer than a 20 Euro white Burgundy. The glasses were so lightweight, in fact, that they seemed to have a little flex to them. Needless to say, everyone who participated in that little tasting went home with boxes of Gabriel Glas Gold wine glasses.  

Why does the shape of the Gabriel Glas Gold matter?

The shape of this wine glass is optimized for inserting your nose into the glass (unlike some glassware, which causes you to contort your neck for this purpose). Getting your nose in the glass is important to appreciate the aromas collecting in the bowl.

In addition to the opening of the bowl, the next thing to pay attention to is the lip.  Wine tasting is often a more pleasant experience with a thin lip because there is less interference between the wine and your mouth.

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Crystal glassware is also preferred when it comes to wine tasting as it has the clearest transparency with which to admire the wine in the glass.  With some molded glassware, you can see where the glassware was sitting in the mold.  

The balance of the glassware in your hand also matters. Heavier glassware can feel tired in your hand.  It is also sexy to hold a glass of wine and feel like you are just holding the wine in your hands, not a heavy container.  This decadent feeling in the hand makes it easier to swirl wines in the glass.  The bowl of the Gabriel Glas Gold glass is a generous 95 mm wide at the widest point.   

Is the Gabriel Glas Gold a Good Value?

For full disclosure, we have to admit that, in the crystal wine glass world, this is a premium glass, especially since it is handmade and imported from Austria.  Like any other luxury purchase, you should consider how often you will be using the item. If this will be your go-to wine glass for years, it’s a great investment when looking at per use cost. That cheap glass sitting in the back of the cabinet is not a good value if it is not getting used!

What are the benefits of mouth-blown glassware?

Handblown glassware differs from molded glassware in that it is almost always constructed of one piece of glass. 

Much commercial glassware is comprised of three parts - the bowl, the stem, and the base.  Three-part construction can be problematic in that stress points are created at the connection between the glass bowl and stem, and again where the stem meets the base.  If you have ever had a wine glass break off at the junction of the bowl and the stem - or at the junction of the stem and the base - then it was likely a molded construction. The Gabriel Glas Gold glass is also lead-free.  

How does one clean Gariel Glas Gold glassware?

The maker says that Gabriel Glas can be washed in the dishwasher.  While we’ve never washed this glassware in the dishwasher we would not be afraid to.

Typically, though, we wash the glassware in the sink using hot water, a thin washcloth, and fragrance-free dish detergent.  Upon removing the glass from the sink, we quickly rinse the glass and then dry it off with a microfiber cloth and polish it.

We store our Gabriel Glas in our closed cabinet (alongside the other lonely glassware that doesn’t get as much use as it once did!).  

If we forget to clean the glass and need to remove any difficult to remove wine deposit, we first use dental appliance cleaner and then clean normally.

How Durable is the Gabriel Glas?

We’ve used this glassware for two years at least weekly, and we’ve yet to have a single glass break or chip.  We’ve even placed the Gabriel Glas wine glass inside its original box and taken the box to the beach to enjoy the glassware and special wines with friends.   

Gabriel Glas Social Proof

We did a fair amount of online research after two years of pain-free glassware enjoyment. We found that many users shared the same sentiments.  

Other users mention that the glassware is pricy but also one of the best wine drinking experiences.  An increasing number of sommeliers at fine restaurants are spokespeople for the Gabriel Glas.

Some users report breaking a glass shortly after use.  We’ve seen no complaints online regarding quality, only user clumsiness.  For those who are afraid to handwash, dishwashing is recommended.  

Gabriel Glas Gold Alternatives

Not ready to splurge on the Gabriel Glas Gold?  There are a few other glasses available that provide similar experiences with a little difference.  

StandArt by Gabriel Glas

So, you’ve read this review and checked out other online reviews that rave about the Gabriel Glas Gold. However, the price is a little steep.  Gabriel does offer a molded glass called the StandArt with the same shape but a slightly heavier feel (145 grams per glass compared to 95 grams per glass).

Zalto DenkArt

Several other online reviewers mention the Zalto glassware as a close second to the Gabriel Glas Gold, with a lower price point. We also own this glassware and enjoy it with heavier red wines if the Gabriel Glas Gold is dirty or occupied with another wine. Also, some might feel less less likely to break this glass when washing. If you like your glassware lead-free, dishwasher safe, but want a more widely distributed glass, the Zalto may be for you.  

 
 

Bella Vino

Still want a lead-free, mouth-blown wine glass that’s made in Europe (this time Switzerland)? Another alternative is the Bella Vino crystal wine glass. In addition to a lower price point, this glass also comes with a limited warranty.  We recommend this one in case you are very clumsy with glassware, or have particularly clumsy guests (hey, accidents happen!).

Gabriel Glas Gold Conclusions

Clearly, we are quite partial to our Gabriel Glas Gold glassware.  It is the sexiest universal crystal wineglass on the market, in our opinion.  

This wine glass is a good option for those enjoying fine wines, as many other crystal glasses on the market are heavier and their weight distracts from the wine drinking experience.  

These wine glasses are good for gift giving as any style of wine can be enjoyed.  There are different set sizes available (1, 2, 6). We also like the story behind the brand and the fact that they are made in Austria by artisans.  

The Gabriel Glas has been durable in the past two years of use.  It is easy to clean by hand or in the dishwasher. We’re surprised that we haven’t broken one! We’ve received many positive comments on the Gabriel Glas when tasting with friends. It’s not going to look like every other piece of glassware on the market.

Check out this wineglass if you are seeking to upgrade your glassware, replace a collection of mismatched glassware, or are seeking a fine wine glass for that special wedding, anniversary, or promotion present. (And for other great wine gifts, check out our ultimate guide to gifts for wine lovers!).

Cheers!   

How to Create a Personalized Wine Journal - For Yourself or Your Favorite Wine Enthusiast

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While there are a variety of wine tasting journals available on the market, most don’t allow for much personalization. We have a couple of favorite wine apps on our iPhone, however taking written notes on wines using a fine journal and a nice pen is relaxing and mindful (or should we say wineful?) Keeping a personalized wine journal is a great hobby for wine enthusiasts. And wine journals (and accessories!) are a great gift for the wine lover who has it all!

Why a Wine Tasting Journal?

A wine tasting journal is simply a place for recording observations and key aspects of the tasting experience to reflect upon later.  They can be used and enjoyed by wine journals can be used and enjoyed by wine novices, serious enthusiasts, and wine professionals alike. 

Students preparing for an exam through the Court of Master Sommeliers or Wine and Spirit Education trust take detailed notes on wines both to practice tasting notes and to commit to memory key points that will help them in theory or tasting exams. Studies show that writing things down is much more impactful than typing into a smartphone or laptop. 

Why not use a Wine Tasting App?

If you’re just getting started in taking wine tasting notes or want to take some quick tasting notes on the go, then yes, the apps available at vivino.com and cellartracker.com are great.  

But there’s just something to be said for pen and paper. If you’re like the rest of us, when you take out the iPhone to take tasting notes, it won’t take much for you to wander from your intent, either reading other users notes or going off the App and checking the weather forecast. Many people who prefer to take notes in a journal are looking for a chance to unplug and to discreetly take notes without the glow of a smartphone.

About Traditional Wine Tasting Journals

Traditional wine tasting journals are made by a variety of publishing houses and wine bloggers.  Many wine lovers find that these “out of the box” wine journals have both positive and negative aspects.  Below are some examples of traditional wine tasting journals.

The Moleskine Passion Journal:

The Write it Down Wine Journal:

Wine Journal Write It Down
Journals Unlimited

Positive points about traditional wine tasting journals:

  • Great templates for enthusiasts to enter in wine names, vintage, price, aromas and flavors, and general topics like where it was consumed, with whom and with what food

  • Wine tasting terms for beginners 

  • Wine references, like vintage ratings, maps and classic producers.  

Downsides to traditional wine tasting journals:

  • Unattractive cover design (e.g. dated, poor photo, corny phrase)

  • Heavy (e.g. leather, can’t take it with you on wine travels)

  • Looks too much like a wine journal (not discreet - you’ll be ‘that person’ in the tasting room)

  • Wine pairing basics or other ‘notes’ that are not of interest, adding bulk/waste to the journal 

  • Ink bleeding through on ‘cheap’ paper

  • Not enough space to affix wine labels

In case traditional wine tasting journals leave you feeling like you are “painting by the numbers,” this blog outlines a DIY wine journal package and methodology you may find useful. 

The Customizable Wine Tasting Journal Package

Let’s look at the components of a personalized wine tasting journal. 

The Leuchtturn Journal

We have been big fans of Leuchtturn 1917 journals since our first trip to Germany over 20 years ago.  

Here’s what we love about this journal:

  • There are bullets instead of lines.  These bullets allow writers to draw, write, or paste in their content without the visual deterrent of lines or the emptiness of a blank page

  • It has an index, and you can customize it!  We’re amazed that many wine journals don’t come with the option to create an index before jumping right into the note-taking.  

  • The journal lays flat - many leather wine journals don’t.  This creates a nice looking spine after year(s) of use. We like how ours looks on a bookshelf!

  • There’s a classy label one can affix to the front of the journal when you’re done using it.

  • There’s a sturdy envelope in the back of the journal to hold winery brochures, menus, wine label remover sheets, and maps until one gets the chance to affix the info into the journal.  

  • The journals are robust.  We’ve used one journal for a year during regional and global travel, on a boat, and bouncing around in a bag.  

  • The jornal is thin and slips in neatly next to one’s laptop or large tablet (8.85 x 12.4 inches).

  • These journals cost less than typical leather journals.

The Staedtler Pen

No one likes writing with a cheap pen, especially when taking tasting notes.  You want a pen with a fine tip that writes smoothly and is a pleasure to hold.  

The Staedtler Pen

These pens are ergonomic with a triangular shape and are very light in the hand.  The ink dries more quickly than gel pens. They don’t smear, bleed or feather.

The only downside we’ve noticed is that sometimes the lighter colors are not as ‘bright’ on paper as some would like.  We’ve noticed over the years that we use the black pen and the darker colors the most.

The Wine Label Lift 

Some wine enthusiasts love to keep wine labels for future reference (as sometimes it can be hard to remember the details of wine(s) the next day!). As you’ll see in our blog on wine label removal, this can can be done by removing the wine label from the bottle or simply taking a good photo of the label.  We do this either through taking photos of the wine labels or actually going through the motions of removing the wine label from the bottle.   

Our preferred method for removing wine labels is utilizing a wine label lift. These are simply adhesive films that one adheres to the bottle then removes - extracting the label from the bottle.  The label can then be inserted into the journal easily. While they don’t work 100% of the time, there are some tips/tricks online for increasing the likelihood of success when removing a label from the wine bottle. 

We really like that these wine label removers slip easily into the envelope in the back of the journal for storage until needed. Once the label is removed from the bottle, the journaler has the option of adhering it to the wine journal as a memento.

Document Edges for Maps, Menus, and Winery Information

In addition to the wine labels themselves, some wine enthusiasts love to collect momentos from the meal, tasting, trip, or bar where the wine was consumed.  For those purposes we love these document edges in classic colors for adhering such momentos to the journal.

Like the wine label removers, these adhesive corner pieces can also slip into the back of the journal for future use.

If You’re Gifting the Wine Journal Package

If you’re gifting the wine journal package, traditional gift wrap will work just fine. However, if you know a wine lover with a milestone birthday, anniversary or promotion, you may want to consider gifting the journal and accessories with a wine book or simply a bottle of wine. To make the gift extra special,  place the journal and accessories in this covetable premium leather wine bag.

Additional Resources for the Personalized Wine Journal

If you or your wine tasting journal recipient is fairly new to making entries in a wine journal, here are a few resources for different approaches to recording tasting notes:

Court of Master Sommeliers: For those who watched the SOMM movies and want to learn the deductive tasting grid demonstrated in the movies, this is the place to go to find the free grid pdf.  

Wine and Spirit Educational Trust: For those who prefer a more analytical approach to wine tasting, the WSET has courses available to wine enthusiasts and wine professionals, where one can learn the WSET systematic approach to tasting.

Also check out our article on the Wine Tasting Grid and how to set up a wine tasting in your home.

Finally, if you join a wine club or wine subscription, these services will often send attractive, informational cards that detail the qualities of your favorite wines. These make great wine journal entries!

You can be as simple or as elaborate as you like in your wine taking notes, including as many or as few details as you wish.  

Additional Accessories for the Personalized Wine Journal

Here are a few more items that wine enthusiasts might enjoy with their personalized journal:

Wine Aroma Wheel

With over 800 aromatic compounds to explore, Dr. Ann Noble, winemaker and professor emeretis of U.C. Davis, came up with this wine aroma wheel that’s been used for decades.   

Bullet Journal 

The popular bullet journal methodology helped us escape from the rigidity of templated journals.

Maximizing the Personalized Wine Tasting Journal Experience

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For wine lovers, journaling about the experience of each bottle is an invaluable resource for study and exam prep. It does not all need to be serious though!  Sometimes one simply wants to keep their unique tasting experiences separate from other journals.  Benefits of enthusiast documentation include watching your tastes and preferences grow and change.  

There are disadvantages to pre-printed wine journals - format, design and flexibility are limited.  The simplicity of a Personalized Wine Tasting Journal means that the journal will never go out of style.  At the core it is about the content and what you want to document for yourself or to share with fellow wine lovers.  

Happy journaling!

Cheers!






















Wine Glass Charms: Our Five Favorite (and Most Fun) Wine Accessories

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When hosting a party with more than just a few guests, accidental co-mingling of glasses often occurs.  Gross! Metal remedies for this unsanitary problem have existed for a while, but are distracting, boring and dated.  Here, we review our five favorite (and more modern) wine charm sets for differentiating wine glasses at your next party.

What are wine charms?

Since many wine lovers own enough matching glassware to host a party and party-goers often forget where they set their glasses, clever entrepreneurs have come up with ways to tell wine glasses apart without detracting from the drinking experience.

A wine charm is simply any type of plastic, metal, or material to discern one wine glass from another.  Wine charms may also serve a secondary objective - decorating glasses in alignment with a party theme.

Early wine charms were often constructed out of metal - wire hoops that slip around the wine stem. While these allow for some creativity, it can be annoying to have a metal earring-like objects flopping around on the wine stem during each sip.

Do I really need wine charms?

From diligent research, we’ve found that the increased likelihood of wines becoming separated from their owners and being accidentally consumed by others is positively correlated with increased time at the party and the volume of wine consumed by the participant.  

While wine charms add a dose of whimsy and serve a practical objective (keeping drinks associated with guests!), not every wine party needs wine charms.  In fact, wine charms are viewed by many as just fun wine glass accessories.

If your wine party is focused on blind tasting where each person has multiple matching glasses in front of them, discreet wine charms may help to organize the wines being tasted.  However, simply marking the wine glass base with a washable or ethanol removable marker or Sharpie might be the best route, as wine charms may be too distracting for the purpose of serious wine tasting.

If your wine consuming guests will sit in primarily the same spot throughout the event or evening, then you might not need wine charms.  Wine charms become more useful when the party includes various attendees carrying their glasses from food station to food station or throughout a home or backyard over the course of a few hours. 

Where can I buy wine charms?

One can find a limited selection of wine charms at wine bottle shops or party supply stores.  However if you live some distance from such stores or fear they might not have a good selection, consider purchasing wine charms from online retailers.  

How do I personalize wine charms?

With the variety of pens on the market, it has become fairly easy to customize or personalize silicone-based wine charms for your parties.  Some wine charms come with instructions and their own pens for personalization. Other are personalized by color, shape, or individualized text.

How do I select and use a wine charm?

Does your party have a particular theme?  Will your party be co-ed or be only men or women?  Keeping the wine charms in line with your selected party theme is a consideration.  Alternatively, you might be looking for multi-purpose wine charms that you can have on hand for any impromptu wine party.  

Here are a few more considerations:

  • Will your party participants like to see something fun or risqué or are they more socially conservative? 

  • Will you use wine charms on stemless glassware or on fine wine glassware with stems? Some wine charms “hug” a wine glass stem and logically won’t work for a stemless glass.  

  • Do you want to re-use the wine charms many times or are you looking for a wine charm form limited use?  Note that re-usability was the desired outcome in this review.  

  • How thick are your wine glass stems? If your glassware has a thin or thick stem, and you choose a wine charm that encircles the wine stem, pay attention to how snug the wine charm is on the wine glass stem.  Wine charms that are too loose on a thin wine glass stem can fall off during the party, presenting a tripping hazard or choking hazard. Pets or small children might accidentally eat them off the ground.  

  • Do you want the wine charm to be adhesive or magnetic?  When using an adhesive, keep in mind that cheap ones may not be easy to remove from the glass.  While researching adhesive wine charms, we made sure to select a ‘clingy’ version with many positive reviews regarding any residue being left behind.  If adhesives concern you, magnetic wine charms might be a better fit. Also, magnetic charms are often reusable. Cling wine charms are another option with limited reusability (especially if they accidentally end up in the dishwasher!).

  • Does the wine charm need to be large enough to facilitate customization or personalization with a marker?  If you wish to personalize your wine charms, you will want to consider if the wine charm has enough surface area for printing the name or initials of the guest. Otherwise, personalization will be limited to the array of color choices available from the manufacturer, and guests will just need to pick a color.

Five wine charms for your party needs - without the wires and noise

Many wine charms available in box stores and some wine bottle shops are simple wire rings with a dangling trinket.  While these may appeal to the Pandora bracelet crowd, we wanted to investigate options that were less dangly, more universal, and more fun!

Best Pool Party Wine Charms

NPW Drinking Buddies Cocktail/Wine Glass Markers

Also available are the Bosom Buddies, of course:

These two-inch scantily clad action figures hang off your glass, gazing into the pool of liquid in your wine glass.  They are available in banana-hammock wearing men, bikini-wearing well-endowed women. We’ve seen a diverse array of skin tones in this product line. However, online options seem limited at the moment.  There’s even a water-into-wine Jesus action figure for parties of biblical proportion!  

Pros:

  • Fun conversation starters

  • Great office prank or white elephant gift

  • Works well on thin-rimmed glasses

  • As they attach to the glass rim, thickness of wine glass stem doesn’t matter

  • You can personalize the swimming trunks with a fine-tip Sharpie or Magic Marker

Cons:

  • The action figures might not be able to grasp thicker rimmed wine or martini glasses

  • We wish more skin and hair color tones were available online (perhaps they were out of stock?)

  • Keep away from pets and small children (choking hazard)

Best Wine Charms for Stemless Glasses

Simply Charmed Swarovski Crystal Magnetic Wine Glass Charms Set of 12 Glass Markers 

These magnetic wine charms are the most elegant of the wine charms we reviewed. They don’t require a glass stem, so are ideal for stemless glasses.

We were a little skeptical… magnets?  The magnetic wine glass charms arrived in a classy white box with a clear lid.  Twelve wine charms were attached to cardstock inside the box. When we removed a wine charm from the cardstock, we were pleasantly surprised at how strong the magnetics were.

To install, simply place one magnet on the outside of a stemless or traditional wineglass near the rim.  Place the second magnet on the inside of the glass behind the crystal.  

The magnetic wine charm worked like a charm across glassware of different thicknesses as well as on plastic cups.  

Pros:

  • Classic, elegant, timeless, attractive, innovative

  • Good for gift-giving, especially for hostess gifts

  • Take up little space in your kitchen drawer

  • Strong magnet - stronger than expected, heck they even survived a dishwasher run

Cons

  • Some users report the “stones” separating from the magnets after many uses

  • Might be difficult to apply for people with limited manual dexterity (or long fingernails!) due to small size

Best Wine charms for Fine Wine Glasses with Stems

Looking for something a little more casual?  These silicon wine glass charms slip around the stem of your favorite champagne or wine glass.

With the magnetic wine charms, we were a little nervous testing it on my thinnest-rimmed wine glasses, so these would be good for people who are careful with their glassware! The non-adhesive construction is perfect for entertaining with fine wine glassware.  

We liked that there were 12 different colors, and also that there was enough space to personalize with a fine tip Sharpie.

Pros:

  • Easy to slip on and off

  • Reusable, food-safe silicon

  • Classic colors

Cons:

  • With ultra-thin stemmed wine glasses, they might slip off.  Good with thicker-stemmed wine glasses.

  • Keep away from pets

Best Static Cling Wine Glass Tags (with the Best Sense of Humor)

These static cling wine glass tags come in a variety of themes suitable for cat lovers, dog fans, and several party themes.  Guests can choose from a variety of sayings (“You’ve got to be kitten me!”). We liked their ‘cling’ nature - no adhesive!

Pros:

  • Works on plastic and glass

  • Reusable as long as they stay clean

Cons:

  • A few online reviewers mention accidentally receiving the wrong static clings (e.g. ordered “cat” and received “Christmas”)

And Our Top Wine Charm Prize Is…

The Simply Charmed Swarovski Crystal Magnetic Wine Glass Charms, Set of 12 Glass Markers 

The wine charms did not move around during use, so we were not nervous about having them around children or pets.  We liked that this wine charm set had 12 different colors, allowing some personalization for guests. Also, we liked the simple touch of ‘bling’ from an aesthetic viewpoint. Another bonus was the small size and ability to work with all glass types. (This brand also carries holiday-themed charms, which we review in our ultimate gift guide for wine lovers!).

Of all the wine charms reviewed, we concluded that it was the one we would re-use the most.  The wine charms are easy to store in a small box no larger than a necklace box. 

Eager to know your top wine charm choice! Let us know in the comments below!

Cheers!

Top Nine Wine Books by Women

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There are so many books that can aid you in learning about wine!  

Spend any time around wine lovers and experts and you will quickly find that most are avid readers. In studying for any of the wine certifications through entities such as WSET (Wine and Spirit Educational Trust), CMS (Court of Master Sommeliers), Wine Guild, and Certified Specialist of Wine, one will find that a lot of reading is involved.

It is no surprise, moreover, that many of these books are written by women - 8 out of 10 bottles of wine consumed in home are purchased by women! 

Each book on an aspect of wine has different ideas and different goals for the reader. When picking out wine books, there are many things to consider. 

This blog will help you differentiate typical types of wine books and help you decide which is best - and most interesting - for you.

Wine 101 Books

All wine novices, wine enthusiasts, connoisseurs, and sommeliers all started at the same place … the beginning!  But not all beginning wine books are the same. Some encourage us to memorize specific regions, while others focus on discerning aromas and flavors and demystifying “wine speak.” Some encourage us to explore the world of wine with abandon, while others suggest we focus on the classics. Some are text-heavy while others appeal with images and tables. 

Wine Folly: Magnum Edition: The Master Guide
By Madeline Puckette, Justin Hammack

Best Wine 101 Book for the Visual Learner

Wine Folly:  Magnum Edition

If you learn best through maps, eye-pleasing graphics, and smaller snippets of text, then Wine Folly:  Magnum Edition is the best wine book for you. This book was awarded the 2019 James Beard Foundation Book Award for Beverage. Wine Folly co-founders are Madeline Puckette (sommelier) and Juston Hammack (digital strategist). If you are a fan of the Somm movie series, you may have seen Madeline in Somm: Into the Bottle.

The book begins with a short overview of wine basics presented with graphics and images.  Basics covered include wine labels, types of wine, how to taste wine, how to choose wine, how wine is made, and how to pair wines. It then shifts into an overview of the major grape varieties and wines of the world, with charts and diagrams outlining their geographic distribution, acreage and what smells and tastes to expect. The book recommends wines to explore from each region.  

 
The 24-Hour Wine Expert
By Jancis Robinson

Best Wine 101 Book When You are Crunched For Time

The 24-Hour Wine Expert

Jancis Robinson, the most respected wine critic in the world and well known for authoring and co-authoring some of the heftiest wine books, distills over four decades of wine knowledge into this petite book. 

We love this easy-to-read overview written, with humor, in plain English. The book introduces key concepts then gets right down to the business of choosing the right bottle, matching wine and food to the occasion, and seeking out wine values. After explaining how to handle wine, the book covers the most common grapes and wine regions.

Fun and concise, this book answers many beginner wine questions and may leave you wanting to learn more about wine after following the suggested exercises. You can also check out Jancis in The Somm Series.

 

Wine Consumer Review Books

Not everyone who shops for good wine values is interested in learning a lot about wine. I get it. I love grilled veggies, but I’m not that into outdoor grills. If I need to buy a new grill, I’d consult a consumer review publication or do some online research to find the best grill at a certain price.

General wine review books focus on getting you the best value for your dollar on wines you see year-in year-out in large wine retailers like Total Wine, Target, and Wal-Mart.

For the more wine savvy, other annual publications focused on getting you the best value in a given vintage or vintage + growing region. These books are aimed at emerging or serious collectors placing orders online or through a local wine shop, or at those purchasing wines at restaurants.  

Best Wine Consumer Review Book

Good, Better, Best Wines

If you are looking for a good, cheap wine under $15 that’s available almost anywhere you shop, then this book is great to have on your e-reader App as you browse the aisles.  

Canadian wine judge and wine columnist Carolyn Evans Hammond covers the best $5 to $15 wines distributed throughout the United States and Canada. She covers Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Red Blends, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Rosé, sparkling wines, and other great inexpensive red and white wines.     

Harried shoppers will enjoy this book’s simplicity - Carolyn lists “Good, Better, Best” with an image of each bottle to make shopping a breeze. She also makes recommendations for those looking for a super low-priced Tuesday night wine as well as dessert wines and party wines.  The book ends with best hidden gems.

In addition to checking out Carolyn’s book, see our recommendations for wine shopping at the grocery store.

 

Wine Books About the Pleasures of Wine

Let’s face it, we consume wine for pleasure.

People who enjoy wine derive different pleasures from its consumption, which can include

  • The rituals surrounding wine service in fine dining

  • Relaxing with a complex glass of wine in your favorite chair

  • Exploring the pairing of wine with different food flavors and cuisines

  • Gifting or sharing a coveted bottle with family, clients, or friends 

  • Seeking out and finding underdog wines

  • ...and much more

These books encompass several aspects of the world of wine. The best combine culture, travel, gastronomy, and poetry.  

Best Pleasures of Wine Book for Short Story Lovers

Wine in Words

Wall Street Journal Wine Columnist Lettie Teague shares mini-essays on many wine topics including wine myths, wine culture, and wine exploration. We’re a big fan of Lettie’s wine advice, including “Drink what you don’t know.”

Lettie has been writing about wine for years and the stories in these essays dispense knowledge while gently poking fun at wine insiders.  





 
The Art of Eating
By Joan Reardon, M.F.K. Fisher

Best Pleasures of Wine Book for Foodies

Art of Eating

This book is a compilation of some of the most sensuous books on food and wine. Sixty years have passed since these works were written and they continue to delight readers.

If you want to go back to a time before busyness, microwaves, fast food, and food blogs, then get a taste of M.F.K Fisher’s food and wine writing. His dark humor is a reprieve from today’s “look at me” wine and food social media gastronomy content.

 

Wine Reference Books

Sommeliers and wine lovers collect books in much the same way we collect wine. Book collecting is a pleasure, as well as a necessity, for those in the business. Most wine certification programs require prospective sommeliers to read literature produced or recommended by the certifying body.  Wine reference books can be heavy tomes (some weigh in at more than six pounds!) which makes e-reader versions better on the back.  

Some of the books in this genre focus on breadth of coverage for wine servers, while others go in depth on topics like soils, production practices, wine chemistry, or wine region. 

Best, Most Comprehensive Wine Reference Book

Oxford Companion Wine

From “amphora” to “Zinfandel,” this is the wine reference book for serious enthusiasts and those studying for various wine certifications. Comprised primarily of definitions, maps, and images, it also includes topics such as the following: wine regions, history, viticulture, winemaking, grape varieties, famous wine people, and labeling and tasting terms. The book won the James Beard Award and many others.

 
The Wine Bible
By Karen MacNeil

Best Wine Reference Book for Tasting a World of Wine

The Wine Bible

Hey, it’s not called The Wine Bible nothing. 

Karen MacNeil’s wine tome checks in at over 1000 pages, so we find Kindle the easiest way to carry around all this wine knowledge. This book is the accumulation of years of tasting and wine education since she got her start in the male-dominated wine world of the 1980s. Where many wine books either skim the surface or go very in depth, Karen’s Wine Bible touches on a breadth of topics for both beginners and intermediate-stage wine lovers.

Its many maps, photos, travel stops, wine flavor profiles, and wine pairing suggestions make this the best wine book for travel to wine regions when you know just a little about wine. This book is good for analytical types who prefer text, tables, and diagrams that are clear and efficient. If you are looking for more infographics and less text, some of the other wine books we recommend here might be a better fit.   

 

Wine Essays and Wine Trends

Essays on trends in wine have emerged as a popular kind of wine writing over the past 10 years. These books often cover hot topics like sommelier and restaurant culture as well as vineyard and cellar practices.  

Best Unpretentious Wine Book of Wine Essays

Wine All the Time

Marissa writes about drinking in the real world, four-letter words and all.

Her journey started with drinking all the “two buck Chuck” wines of the world. Then she made a video series called Wine Time. After working as Mindy Kaling’s assistant for four years, Marissa landed a book deal and a role as Bon Appetit contributor.  

Between all the jokes and LOL moments, Marissa dispenses with some good beginner wine information.

 

Best Journalist-Infiltrates-Wine-Connoisseurship-Culture Book of Wine Essays

Cork Dork

Those wanting a front row seat to “rock-star” sommelier culture will enjoy this book. It reveals the lengths that somms and serious students of wine will go in pursuit of certifications. 

Journalist Bianca Bosker takes an investigative reporter approach to learning the world of wine in New York City. Fans of Kitchen Confidential and other “foodie” books may really enjoy this look into the world of the wine-obsessed.  

 

In Conclusion

As you can see, there are many different types of wine books meeting different needs. And we’ve only taken a closer look at wine books written or co-written by women!

Regardless of your wine reading intention, we hope you have enjoyed our recommendations of some of our favorites!

Cheers!








































The Best Corkscrews and Wine Openers for Wine Lovers

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When it comes to opening a bottle of wine, there are a lot of products out there that can do the job.  Clever kitchen stores and gift shops market all types of wine openers to wine enthusiasts, either for our own use or as gifts.  Don’t fall prey to all those wine keys marketed to the home wine consumer.  

When selecting a wine opener, consider the intended application to select the best wine opener:

  • Will you be traveling with the corkscrew?

  • Do you want to give the best wine key to a sommelier friend achieving her latest certification? 

  • Are you simply looking for a perfect wine opener, one that won’t fail three months from now

  • Are you wanting a double hinged wine key that will fit in your sister’s small hand? 

  • Have you fallen for older wines (with their troublesome older corks!) and so need a traditional Ah So style cork puller?

Start with these questions before selecting a wine opener or corkscrew.

Opening a bottle of wine

Since the invention of the wine bottle and cork in the late 17th century, mankind has been designing and patenting tools for getting corks out of bottles.  

Fast forward to today, where in the United States, about 80% of wine is purchased for home consumption.  That means a lot of wine openers in American homes and a proliferation of different types of wine openers and names for these wine-freeing devices.

Corkscrew innovations are a lot like other kitchen innovations, over-engineered with cheap parts to appeal to the gadget junkie. They often end up collecting dust in the kitchen drawer.  Alternatively, many corkscrews in the grocery store or hotel room are cheap knock-offs meant to be disposable.

Here, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite wine corkscrews for all wine consumers. These wine openers will appeal to casual users as well as serious enthusiasts and sommeliers.  

And in case you need an opener for older bottles with fragile corks, we share with you our recommendation for a cork puller. 

Last, we review one electronic wine opener for those with limited hand mobility or weak hands and or wrists.  

Wine Opener Terminology

Hugger Waiter Corkscrew

Hugger Waiter Corkscrew

What is a Waiter’s friend?  Wine Key? Sommelier’s Knife?  Butler’s Friend? Waiter’s Corkscrew?

Don’t be intimidated.  These are all the same thing!

Based upon a German innovation dating back to the late 1880s, this device of many names has been a true friend to sommeliers, waiters, butlers, serious enthusiasts, and casual wine consumers alike.  The design of a sommelier’s knife has not diversified too much since its inception.

We continue to return to this kitchen multi-tool as it is reliable, takes up limited space, and fees robust enough to stand up to the task of liberating that great liquid from the bottle. 

The components of the wine key are the worm (metal helix), the handle, the boot-lever, the foil cutter, and optional bottle cap remover to remove the caps off of sodas or beer.

How To Use a Wine Key

Many wine opening devices on the market aim at simplifying the wine opening process.  In practice, however, it is quite simple to use a wine key to open a bottle of wine. Most of us simply have not been trained on how to open a bottle of wine.  

For an introduction (or refresher!) on wine service, including use of the wine key to open the bottle, check out this video.  

Not too bad, huh?  

How To Open a Bottle of Wine with a Fragile Cork

Perhaps you have an older bottle and the cork just doesn’t look like it will hold together if you apply the force of the wine key worm to it. Or, perhaps you’ve used the waiter’s friend and $#*@!, the cork broke in half and now you are wondering how you are going to get the rest of the remaining cork out.

This is where the cork extractor or cork puller (also colloquially referred to as the Ah So cork puller) comes in handy.

Check out this video on removing fragile corks from older wine bottles or retrieving the lodged piece of a broken cork.

When To Use An Electric Wine Opener

While we recommend the waiter’s friend for most wine opening experiences, we understand that they might not be easy to use for all wine enthusiasts.  

We are all differently abled when it comes to manual dexterity.  If you find removing the foil on the bottle, opening or closing the corkscrew, manipulating the worm and/or levering the cork out of the bottle painful or impossible, you may want to consider using an electric wine opener.

For our recommendation on the best electric opener, keep reading!

Our Wine Opener Recommendations

Best Waiter’s Friends

Hugger Waiter ABS Handle Corkscrew with Serrated Blade

Our favorite classic black corkscrew is this Franmara Hugger from Italy.  The worm is nickel-plated with an etched line running down the spiral. The stainless steel serrated knife cuts through foil easily. The ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) handle is solid.  ABS plastic is quite similar to the strong and smooth three-polymer plastic used in LEGO building blocks and computer keyboards.  

 The corkscrew also features a two-step boot lever. The wine opener is built like a tank, and fits in the hand like a comfortable knife.  

This type of wine key is common in restaurants, wineries, and at catered events so home wine enthusiasts can rest assured that it will last a long time and can be replaced easily if lost. The black matte finish of the handle gives it a classic look.  

Pros: 

  • The wine key’s larger size fits well in large hands

  • The serrated knife is large and can double for opening boxes

Cons:

  • Plastic handle might feel industrial to home users

  • The wine key’s larger size might feel too big in smaller hands


Pulltap's Genuine Classic 500 Double-Hinged Lever Waiters Wine Corkscrew Bottle Opener

Next up is Pulltap’s wine corkscrew from Barcelona, Spain.  This one’s strong reputation for durability makes it one of the most replicated corkscrews, so beware of imitations with names similar to Pulltap!

The Pulltap has a solid body and a strong nickel-plated double-hinged lever. This body/handle has a smooth, ergonomic feel to it. The worm is teflon coated, which makes it great for both natural and synthetic corks.  

Pros:

  • Ergonomic handle great for opening a lot of wines at a time

  • Retractable teflon coated worm good for natural and synthetic corks

  • This corkscrew is available in multiple colors including classic and trending colors

Cons:

  • Smaller sized handle not ideal for large or extra-large hands

  • The stainless steel foil cutter blade is a little on the small side


Laguiole en Aubrac Wine Opener with Juniper Handle

If you (or a lucky recipient) wants a handmade corkscrew from France, Laguiole wine openers come with a wide array of handles including bone, stone, and specialty woods. The metal components are forged in France in mills near Thiels.  The craftsmen making these knives typically apprentice between one and three years. 

Each individual knife is handmade by artisans from southern France and each is truly a piece of art.  Laguiole is not a brand name, rather it is a generic name for a knife originating from Laguiole village. There are several markings on these knives that are of interest: a fly (la mouche) engraved on the springhead; a cross (Shepherd's cross) used by shepherds for prayer; and signature engraving on the spine of the knife - unique to the knife-maker.  

Pros:

  • Hand crafted in France by skilled artisans

  • Corkscrew and foil cutter forged from Sandvik brushed stainless steel

Con:

  • Can be a little “stiff” to use when new, making it difficult to use at first if you are opening a lot of bottles in an evening

  • Single pull corkscrew (some people prefer double-stage corkscrew)


Best Key Chain Bottle Opener

Munkees 3-in-1 Mini Keychain Corkscrew & Bottle Opener Tool with Knife

If you are looking for a well made corkscrew to keep on your keychain (ideal for outdoor pursuits), the Munkees Mini Corkscrew might be the best wine key for camping.  With this easy to carry 3-inch mini corkscrew, you will never have to research again “How to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew.”

In addition to being a corkscrew on a chain, the device has a bottle cap opener and a sharp knife.  The tip of the corkscrew is secured and covered by the bottle cap opener.   

Pros:

  • Small size 

  • Can carry on keychain

  • 30-day free return

Cons:

  • Does not have double-action or single-action lever - will need to use brute force to pull the cork out with the T-handle.


Best Cork Puller

Monopol Westmark Germany Steel Two-Prong Cork Puller with Cover

This cork puller is great when you need to uncork old vintage wine.  These two-prong cork pullers go by many names, including Ah-So cork puller, Butler’s Thief, Butler’s Friend, or Ah-So style Waiter’s Friend.  

To use one of these cork extractors, simply use a knife or foil cutter to remove the foil from the top of the wine bottle.  Hold the neck of the bottle firmly and insert the longest prong onto one side of the cork between the cork and the inside neck of the bottle, followed by the shortest prong.  Wiggle the extractor prongs while pushing downwards on the hand. Once the cork puller prongs are firmly tweezing the cork, slowly turn the cork puller while holding the bottle to extract the cork.  Check out our video here:  


This particular cork puller is made in Germany and comes in an esthetically pleasing little black box with plush interior, making it a great gift.  The steel prongs and die cast metal ergonomic handle and cover means it will likely outlast all of us! It comes with a five-year warranty.  

Pros:

  • Cork is not damaged during extraction, reducing the chances that little bits of cork crumbs fall into the bottle

  • Easy to clean

Cons:

  • Requires a little wiggling and pulling, which might be difficult for some with carpal tunnel or other wrist dexterity challenges


Best electric wine opener

Electric Wine Opener Rechargeable Automatic Corkscrew Wine Bottle Opener with Foil Cutter & USB Charging Cable Stainless Steel by Flasnake

While at KnowWines we prefer the classic styles of the waiter’s friend and cork extractors, we know that some wine consumers want or need an electric wine opener.  If you suffer from carpal tunnel, wrist pain, a broken arm, or have use of only one hand, classic wine openers won’t suffice.

In an electric wine opener, we looked for ease of use, sleek design aesthetics, noise level, and warranty.

This wine opener is very easy to use.  One simply needs to cut the foil using the included (free!) foil cutter, then use the down and up arrows on the electric wine opener to first insert the screw then retract the cork from the bottle.  We also liked the energy efficiency of the device - one can open up to 80 bottles on one full charge!

Pros:

  • Attractive beige box - great for gift-giving

  • Quiet

  • Contemporary stainless steel housing

  • Pretty blue and red lights light up during operation

  • Takes 100 - 240 V


The Wine Bottle Opener Round-Up

For almost all bottle opening applications, the classic Waiter’s Friend corkscrew will suffice.  

When selecting the best bottle opener, consider the user and the situation(s) in which bottles will be opened.

In the wine bar and restaurant community, you’ll find our first two picks for good reasons. The Hugger has the feel of a good multi-purpose chef’s knife, while the Pulltap feels like a great paring knife.  They are a good balance of cost and quality - if you lose one, it isn’t the end of the world.

For those looking for a gift for a serious wine collector or a sommelier achieving his/her most recent wine award, the Laguiole wine opener is a lifetime investment and celebration of enduring craftsmanship.  

Outdoor enthusiasts and college students will find the Monkees corkscrew and bottle combination with keychain a practical tool.

And for those who love the ease of use of an electronic wine opener, who may be suffering from carpal tunnel or arthritis, the Flasnake Electronic Wine Opener is a great choice.

We hope this blog helps you choose just the right corkscrew for yourself or a friend. For more great wine gift ideas, check out our ultimate guide to gifts for wine lovers.

Cheers!

How to Check Wine When You Fly

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KnowWines has flown with wine bottles, beer bombers, liquor, and wine cases domestically (US) and internationally since 2000. Out of about 1000 bottles, we’ve had only one small beer bottle break! Here we give you the lowdown on 20 years of flying with booze (on any budget!).

Before we dive in, here are some reasons you might fly with wine:

  • Souvenir from business trip

  • Momento from a vacation

  • Traveling to a location with poor wine selection

  • Moving your household domestically and/or internationally

Planning to Travel with Wine

Before booking your airfare, here are a few things to consider:

  • Traveling one way with wine?  Use stackable luggage to reduce luggage fees.

  • Concerned about luggage weight on return flight? When flying domestically on an economy or premium economy ticket, the luggage weight limit is likely 50 lbs (if you go over this, there are additional fees).  If you are flying business or first class, the baggage allowance is typically 70 lbs per bag. Consider upgrading on your return flight for a larger luggage allowance.

  • Traveling with wine when it is over 70 F at your origin, connection, and destination?  Consider shipping as your wine might get “cooked” on the tarmac.

  • Do wines fly free? Some airlines like Southwest Airlines always have two free checked bags allowance. Other airlines, like Alaska Airlines, have Wines Fly Free promotion for Mileage Plan™ members only. In this promotion, one case (12 bottles) flies free in a cardboard box. Check with your airline for freebies and restrictions!

Start with a Hard-Sided Suitcase

You’ll be placing any wine you’re taking home from your wine country experiences in your checked bag (along with any other liquid over 100 mL or 3.4 ounces). The first step in protecting the wine bottle is the construction of your suitcase.

We strongly recommend a hard-sided suitcase. Why? When there is a luggage showdown in the belly of an airplane, a soft--sided bag versus golf clubs, golf clubs will likely win. Not good news for your wine!

If you are planning to travel regularly with six or more bottles of wine, consider investing in one of these VinGard Valise suitcases.  We’ve had ours for three years and love it. We also frequently loan it out to wine-loving friends.

Another option available online and at wineries are wine boxes with wheels and handles. Our experience is that these are much better than transporting a standard box of wine, but they are not as convenient as they could be. In general, they do the trick to get wine home safe and sound, but they have limitations. For a solo traveler they can be tricky to handle. Also, the wheels and strap combination are tricky - it’s a lot like adding an unwilling 50 lb toddler to your luggage! If you have a partner or driver who can help you maneuver luggage and the box (or are using a luggage cart) they are a great option.   

How to Keep Wine Cool When It’s Hot

Once you have arrived in wine country, check the forecast. If temperatures are over 70 F, you will need to find a way to keep your wines cool while you drive between destinations.  

Take a frozen food bag with you in your checked bag, or pick one up at a grocery store at your wine destination. This type of insulated bag with robust handles and foldability is great to take with you in the rental car if you plan to purchase a few wines each day.

Prevent your labels from getting wet by placing ice in a ziploc bag and wrapping that bag with newspaper or a towel from the hotel or AirBnB. Don’t place wine in the trunk of the car unless it is in a cooler. We love these two gallon freezer bags and always keep them with us in our suitcase for wine travel and any other travel needs.

So, you’ve kept your precious selections cool in the car. Don’t let them go to ruin on the airport tarmac! If the weather in your departing or connecting city will be over 70 F, have your wines shipped.  

Will Wine Freeze During Travel?

Flying with wine when it is cold?  A bottle of wine will not freeze until it is about 15 or 20 degrees F, and it will take a little while for wine to freeze, especially if it is insulated by your clothes in a suitcase or in a box containing styrofoam.  

However, if your travels take you to extremely cold climates, you may want to have it shipped professionally.  If you do travel to someplace like Alaska with a few bottles of wine and your luggage is delayed a day and or two, check the cork when it arrives to determine whether or not the wine has been compromised.  If the cork is pushed out a little bit then the wine likely froze during transit.

How Much Does a Bottle of Wine Weigh?

Wine bottles vary in size and weight, and unless your AirBnB or hotel room comes with a scale, estimating the weight can be tricky.  Bottles vary in size and weight due to a variety of factors, including marketing purposes or traditions in the region of origin.

As a rule of thumb, wine bottles weigh between 2  and 4 pounds. However, we know that when it comes to luggage fees, every ounce counts!  

Here are some wine bottle sizes and wine bottle weights you will come across.  I include some craft beer bombers, liquor examples for comparison.

  • A half bottle (or demi) of Riesling at 375 mL weighs 1 lb 9 ounces (708 grams)

  • A bottle of Whiskey at 700 mL weighs 2 lbs 9 ounces (1162 grams)

  • A Bordeaux-style bottle at 750 mL weighs 2 lb 10 ounces (1190 grams)

  • A bottle of Riesling at 750 mL weighs 2 lb 12 ounces (1247 grams)

  • A Belgian Beer bomber at 750 mL can weigh 3 lbs 6 ounces (1531 grams)

  • A bottle of Pinot Noir or Chardonnay in a Burgundy bottle at 750 mL can weigh 3 lbs 9 ounces (1616 grams)

  • A bottle of luxury cult Cabernet Sauvignon at 750 mL can weigh 4 lbs 5 oz (1956 grams)

 
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Invest in Wine Bottle Bags

One of the best wine travel hacks is to travel with wine bottle bags. They don’t take up space when empty, many are reusable, and most weigh under 2 ounces. The best wine bottle bags are reusable, and can accommodate liquor and beer bombers as well.  We’ve also used them to transport non-alcoholic bottles like olive oil and vinegar. Things we look for in a good wine bottle bag are a non-adhesive seal (reusable), a cushion of some sort, absorbent pads, material that is not transparent, and no sharp edges.  

We’ve used wine bottle bags for over ten years and find that you can get about three years of use out of them if you are traveling three to six times per year.  You can get some more life out of them if they separate at the seams by taping the edges with clear packing tape.

Here is our favorite wine travel bag.    

When Traveling, Don’t Buy Wine You Can Buy at Home

Don’t mess with flying with or shipping wine if you can get the same wine at home! In the tasting room, always ask, “Can I get this specific wine at home?”.  Most tasting room staff are happy to look up the availability of a wine in your country, state, or city.

Wines you should buy at the winery and consider taking home with you:

  • Wines you love and can only get at the winery

  • Wine you love that is sold at a discount at the winery

  • Wine that is not distributed to your state, or is only available in very small quantities or in a city far from your home

  • Wine from older vintages that may not be available at your hometown wine bottle shop

Economy Wine Carrier

No extra funds for luxury luggage or wine bottle bags?  No wine shipper near where you are traveling? Didn’t plan on buying a wine and came unprepared?  Never fear.

Simply place a couple of socks around the bottle and insert it into any bag (trash bag, Ziploc bag, hotel laundry bag).  With the remaining space in the bag, fill it with absorbent material like underwear, diapers, or clothing to provide some shock absorption.

Packing the Suitcase

Whether you are using wine bags or socks, we take the same approach to packing wines in our checked bags. Here’s our step-by-step guide:

  • Lay your empty suitcase on the floor, bed or other level surface.

  • Line the perimeter of the suitcase with shoes and other bulky items.

  • Place wines in the center of the suitcase.

  • Place clothing/soft material around the neck of the bottle.

  • Make sure the bottle won’t move around in the suitcase freely.  Loose wine in luggage is how the neck can get snapped.

Checking the Bag

Your bottles are safely secured inside your luggage and you are on your way to the airport.  Here are some tips based our previous experiences traveling with wine.

Rental Car Logistics

Traveling with a friend? Have them drop you off at the check-in station so that you don’t have to juggle heavy luggage on the rental car shuttle.

Traveling alone with a rental car?  I’ve had luck tipping the rental car return agent to drop me off in my rental car.  This option might not be available if the rental car return is very busy.

We don’t know how much it helps, but we always ask for a fragile sticker at the airport to put on the bag.  

Insurance

Check with your credit card and airline for insurance options. Some airlines will cover wine up to a certain value when it is checked in a cardboard box with styrofoam, however most will not.  

Fragile Sticker

I’ve noticed no difference in how my luggage has been handled when someone places a Fragile sticker on my bag.  However, that bright sticker can bring some temporary psychological relief during a hectic time!

Don’t Drink Your Wine As Soon As You Get Home

Once you get the wine home, your wine may suffer from temporary bottle shock (or bottle sickness).  This means that the wine might temporarily taste muted. Let the wine sit on its side for a week or two and it should return back to normal.  

While we don’t necessarily know what causes bottle shock, we do know that there are a lot of complex components in wine that can be negatively impacted by heat and shaking.  

Bottle shock does not occur with all wines. A younger wine might recover quickly, while an older wine or wines heavy in sediment might take longer to recover from bottle shock.

Know the Rules and Pack Cash or Check when Flying Internationally

When flying domestically and into the United States, TSA rules do not limit the amount of wine you can check, with one exception: if your wine has more than 24% alcohol. Since most wines have less than 24% alcohol, this is not a problem with the TSA.  

Some states do have regulations on the amount of wine you can bring in to the state for personal use.  It’s best practice to check your state law online especially if you live in a “control state.”

If you are flying into a “dry” country, or country that limits alcohol import due to religious regions, check with that country’s equivalent to TSA for rules and regulations.  

We always declare wines when we are traveling internationally.  Simply declare the items on your customs form (paper or electronic) or at the Global Entry kiosk.  Enter the amount of goods. If the amount is under the exception, the customs agent will wave you through.  Sometimes the customs agent will not charge you if the amount is near the exception. If it is over the exception, they will calculate the charge and you can pay with US currency or with a personal check.  The charge is typically about 4%, so for $1000 in wine this could be $40.

Shipping Wine

So you’ve found a great wine while traveling.  Ask the winery about their shipment options, as they can vary significantly between wineries.  Costs may vary due to the distance the wine needs to travel, whether the wine is being shipped to a home or business, how many wines are in the shipment, and the rate negotiated with the shipper. Most wineries will ship directly to you when temperatures are cooler, or will use refrigeration during hot months.

If you’ve purchased bottles from several different wineries and want to ship those, use a wine shipper like the ones listed below for temperature controlled shipping options:

If you’re worried your wine may not have been shipped properly, here’s an article to help you determine if your wine is bad.

Summary

We hope you find that collecting wine and bringing it home from your travels is a fun and rewarding adventure. It’s provided us great pleasure, especially the part when we share our finds with friends and family.

Cheers!











The Best Wine Refrigerators for Wine Lovers

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In this article, we take a look at the highest rated small wine refrigerators that are ideal for storing approximately 50 bottles of wine.

This type of refrigerator may appeal to any of the following wine lovers:

  • Those seeking a step up from a lower end wine cabinet or perhaps a temporary solution before taking the plunge to a larger cellar down the road.

  • Those undergoing a kitchen remodel who are seeking a sleek, under counter wine refrigerator to fit in with new appliances.

  • Those who have collected a few bottles from their wedding year or childrens’ birth years and are seeking a storage solution for those special bottles.   

  • Single people or couples who have downsized and want to age just a few special bottles.

Do you need a small wine refrigerator?

Before moving on to our recommendations, let’s take a deeper dive into understanding the benefits of small wine refrigerators. It’s important to consider the environmental factors that impact wine and why wines benefit from being stored in cellars. Ideal conditions for wine storage include cool, stable temperature, relatively high humidity, and no light or vibrations. If you drink wines within a couple of weeks of purchasing your wines, then you can get by without a wine refrigerator because the changes caused by improper storage take time to develop.

If you’ve tried some older, properly aged wines — perhaps a Mosel Riesling from the 1980s or a Napa Cabernet from the 1990s — and didn’t enjoy the aged wines, then your preferences don’t warrant investment in a wine refrigerator. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying many age-worthy wines when they are young (though we do recommend bit of research at your local bottle shop on decanting times!).

If you do enjoy storing wine to age, however, you may already have some stored in your kitchen island, coat closet, basement, or bar. It’s not uncommon for wine enthusiasts to have wines stashed throughout their home in several places. Over an extended time, however, these wines can deteriorate if not stored properly.  

Assassins of Wine

Temperature

Temperature variation is one of the biggest enemies of wines as it ages. Wines should be stored at around 55 F (typical cave temperature), however a range of 50 to 58 F is often considered acceptable.

You might think, “Hey, why can’t I store my wine in my refrigerator for the long term, or perhaps in the beer fridge in the garage?” Well, a few unfortunate things can happen when wine is stored at too cool of a temperature for extended periods. The cool temps can slow down the aging process, the cork can dry out and allow refrigerator smells to seep into the wine (gross!), or the wine can be agitated when jostling around food or beer in the fridge, thus damaging the closure or label. Also, if the wine is pushed to the back of the refrigerator, there’s the possibility of freezing which may result in the cork getting pushed out.

Storage in a dark closet also may seem ideal but will have mixed results. If the air conditioning in the house or apartment breaks down, temperatures can escalate. Prolonged periods can lead to the wine taking on a stewed or cooked flavor. Some wines may also start to take on a vinegar taste as the aging process is accelerated.

Light

Like temperature, too much light can also make wine deteriorate. This phenomenon is not unique to wine, as some beers are also known to suffer from light strike. Simply, light is a form of radiation. Ultraviolet and blue portions of the light spectrum carry more energy than the red portion.  

Wine (and beer) have naturally sulphurous compounds. When light strikes wine, unwelcome chemical reactions can occur, leading to “skunky” aromas and flavors. Different colors of glass do provide more protection than others (e.g. dark brown or amber glass), however green and clear bottles are more common.

Since glass color selection has more to do with the aesthetics of the wine in the bottle, those of us wanting to age wines want to reduce light damage as much as possible. Wine refrigerators with dark glass or a solid door significantly reduce the possibility of light getting into the bottles.

Humidity Fluctuation

When storing wines, most bottles are stored on their sides. This keeps the cork moist, reducing the likelihood that oxygen will enter the bottle.  

A typical food refrigerator is a low humidity environment. In there, the cork can dry out. Corks can also dry out in arid environments. The ideal humidity level is around 70%.

Once oxygen has gotten into the wine bottles due to improper storage, the wine will quickly oxidize. Oxidation causes aromas and flavors to change. This negative impact is irreversible.

Vibration

Like light damage, damage caused by vibration is the direct result of energy being transferred to the contents of the bottle. This time it is kinetic energy and not radiation. Vibration damage can result from storing wine on top of a refrigerator or near another vibrating appliance like a treadmill, washer, or dryer. Wine stored under stairs can also suffer from vibration damage.  

The exact biochemical causes are not yet well known, however food chemistry research shows that wines exposed to vibration can lead to a reduction in esters, resulting in dull flavors.  Additionally, wines exposed to vibration can taste sweeter as the amount of propanol and isoamyl alcohol increases as tartaric acids, succinic acids, and esters decrease.

For more on wine assassins (and how to tell if your wine has really gone bad), check out our blog on wine faults.

Advantages of Small Wine Refrigerators

Now that you understand the environmental risks to wine in suboptimal storage conditions, let’s move on to those refrigerators!

When selecting a small wine refrigerator, one of the common regrets is getting too small of a wine cabinet.  As your passion grows, some of the smaller 18-24 bottle wine refrigerators can be outpaced by your collection habit.  

Many small wine refrigerators are also targeting a more entry level clientele and are more likely to have thermoelectric coolers rather than compressors. Too small of a wine refrigerator also makes it difficult to maintain humidity.

Alternatively, some people purchase a wine refrigerator that is too big. The best large wine refrigerators are thousands of dollars and are designed for storing wines for 20 years or more. If you move frequently, large wine refrigerators are difficult to move! Your new or downsized home may not be able to accommodate a magnificently large wine refrigerator.  

Much like the “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” story, here we review the “just right” wine refrigerators that can fit under the counter or stand alone in a den or walk out basement.  

Things to look For in your Wine Refrigerator

Warranty

Most small wine refrigerators in size and price category we reviewed come with a one year warranty on some components and a five year warranty on the cooling system.  

To extend the warranty of any durable good like a wine cabinet, consider using a premium credit card with extended warranty provisions to make the purchase. Check with your credit card company to see if they offer extended warranties with this type of purchase.  

Keep an electronic record of the customer service number in case you have any issues with your small wine refrigerator.  

Durability

Most issues that buyers face when ordering small wine refrigerators have to do with the initial delivery and installation. Typical issues include damage during shipping such as scratches and dents. Delivery issues are the most frequent cause of poor reviews.

If the unit arrives in good condition and is installed properly, expect about five years of use and potentially up to ten years.

Environmental conditions that shorten the lifespan of small wine refrigerators are typically related to ambient temperature and humidity. Wine refrigerators used in extreme conditions like a garage in Florida or a cold basement in North Dakota may have a shorter lifespan.  

When selecting a small wine refrigerator, pay attention to how much clearance is required under the unit for optimal performance. If the unit vents to the front, it can be used as an under counter unit or as a stand alone unit. If the wine cabinet vents only to the back, make sure that the unit is not installed flat against a wall.

Cooling Technology and Energy Efficiency

Small wine refrigerators are excluded from the federal Energy Star energy program. Some wine refrigerators are more energy efficient than others.  

Thermoelectric units are typically more energy efficient and are best suited for small living spaces like a studio apartment or condo.  

Compressor units use refrigerant like standard refrigerators. They may be less energy efficient than thermoelectric units and may be a little noisier, especially at lower price points. They tend to last longer and work in a broader range of ambient environment conditions.  

Noise and Design Aesthetic

Following delivery issues and bottle count, the third most likely source of complaints on small wine refrigerators is noise. Remember, any durable good with a fan makes noise and sensitivity to this noise varies by person. In this price category, we found that these units will be between 25 and 45 decibels, about the noise level of a quiet conversation.  

Think about where the wine refrigerator will be located. If it will be in a living or entertaining area, pay special attention to noise emitted by the unit. If the unit will be in an unfinished walk out basement or utility room, then noise might be less of a concern.  

Since wine is a luxury good and many of these units end up in kitchens, most wine refrigerators are aesthetically pleasing. Consider whether or not you like the color of the LED lights and trim finish (stainless or black). Also, do you prefer a left or right opening wine cabinet?

Bottle Size Flexibility

Keep in mind that bottle capacity is typically referring to Bordeaux style bottles. Chances are, most wine enthusiasts have bottles that range in size and shape. Frequently, consumers are disappointed when they can’t fit all the expected bottles in the cabinet. Second to delivery issues, the bottle capacity count is a frequent cause of low reviews.  

Wine bottle sizes vary by wine style and region. Champagne and Burgundy bottles typically have a fuller, rounder base, while Bordeaux style bottles are more rectangular in shape.  Flute-shaped Riesling bottles have longer tapered necks.

If your collection has wines from many regions, you will likely need to spend more for flexibility in the interior shelving system, or just live with a fewer number of bottles than the labeled capacity.   

Other Considerations

We review only single temperature zone, small wine cabinets. Dual zone wine cabinets tout flexibility, however we like fewer moving parts that have the potential to break down. We suggest keeping things simple by planning ahead: just slip that rosé or Sauvignon Blanc into your regular refrigerator or an ice bucket 20 minutes before serving if you enjoy them below 55 F.  

We have found that wine cabinets with the same capacity can vary a lot in price. Typically, higher priced units have the following features:

  • Better shipping pallet and packaging material

  • Less assembly

  • More responsive customer service

  • More robust individual components (e.g. glass layers, more metal thickness, heavier duty compressor, shelf quality)

  • Higher end look

  • More shelving flexibility

If you have minor children in the house, or your rent out your home on platforms like AirBnB or HomeAway, we strongly suggest getting a wine refrigerator with a lock.  

Most small wine refrigerators will not need a lot of cleaning or maintenance, other than checking to see if the temperature and humidity are near the ideal conditions.  

If you are concerned about your small wine refrigerator temperature and humidity (let’s say while you are out of town or in case of power loss), you may want to consider putting one of these Moat Temperature & Humidity Wireless Smart Sensors in the wine cabinet. It will send you an alert if either are out of specifications you set.

Now, let’s get to those small wine refrigerators!

Best Unit for Diverse Bottle Sizes:

Allavino VSWR56-1SSRN - 56 Bottle Single Zone Wine Cellar Refrigerator

Of all the units we reviewed in this product category, this one had the longest warranty. The cooling technology is a compressor. The noise level reported is around 40 decibels or less.

The small wine refrigerator comes well packaged and on a pallet. Minimal assembly is required and the small wine refrigerator is easy to get up and running. You can choose if you want the door to open from the left or right. The wine refrigerator is front venting and can be installed under a countertop or as a stand alone unit.

What sets this unit apart from the others is its FlexCount shelving. It can accommodate many different sizes of bottles. This FlexCount shelving is not only practical, its sleek design makes it look premium and contemporary. The wine refrigerator comes with a lock.

Here’s your link for more information on the Allavino wine refrigerator:

Best Unit with Traditional Wood Shelving

AMZCHEF Wine Cooler, Wine Refrigerator, Built-in or Freestanding, 52 Bottle Wine Refrigerator

For wine enthusiasts who love the look of traditional wood shelves, this unit may suit your needs. It is also a front venting unit, enabling under counter or stand alone installation.  This unit comes with adjustable feet, carbon filtration, a safety lock, door alarm to let you know if the door is ajar.

A couple potential downsides: the door is not adjustable (the hinge is on the right) and some assembly is required. The unit fits 52 standard wine bottles, so if your collection contains wider Bourgogne style bottles or broad shouldered Cabernet Sauvignon bottles, you likely are not going to get 52 bottles in the unit.

Here’s your link for more information on the AMZCHEF wine refrigerator:

Best Unit for Basement Bars:

NewAir Built-In Wine Cooler and Refrigerator, 52 Bottle Capacity Fridge with Triple-Layer Tempered Glass Door

If you’re looking for a small wine refrigerator for your basement bar and don’t need the “wow” factor but still want a visually appealing refrigerator, this one may meet your needs.  Like the previous two models, this one also has a compressor cooler. It has a noise level of just under 40 decibels, a reversible door, beech wood shelves, and a moisture container to help with maintaining humidity.  It is also front venting, perfect for under counter or stand alone installations and has a lock. It comes with a one year warranty.

A few potential downsides: it appears as if the legs are not adjustable so one will need to use wood shims to balance the unit on an uneven floor. Some users report that the temperature needs to be reset when electricity goes out and that the bright blue LEDs are very bright.

Here’s your link for more information on the NewAir wine refrigerator:

Best Budget Option:

Kalamera 50 Bottle Compressor Wine Refrigerator Single Zone with Touch Control

This small, quiet wine refrigerator is ideal for townhomes, smaller condominiums, or office spaces.

Budget does not mean giving up on aesthetics. This small wine refrigerator has pleasing blue LED lights, a stainless steel door, and double layer glass. Unlike the other units, it has thermoelectric cooling technology, making it very quiet. At 82 lbs., it was the lightest small wine refrigerator we reviewed. The beech racks are removable to accommodate the wider bottle bases of wines like Pinot Noir and Champagne. It has a one year warranty and does not have a lock.  

Some potential downsides: if you have a lot of non standard wine bottles, you may only be able to fit about 40 bottles. The door is not reversible and the unit does not have a lock. The unit vents toward the back, so it is best used as a stand alone unit and not as an under counter installation.  

Here’s your link for more information on the Kalamera wine refrigerator:

Conclusion

We’ve four similar sized small wine refrigerators for a variety of circumstances, from a premium unit suitable for kitchen installation to a stand alone wine refrigerator perfect for a condo or small business.

If I needed a small wine refrigerator for a home remodel or for a condo, I would select the Allavino. It’s a great value for those interested in something like a EuroCave, but wanting a smaller capacity at a lower price point. We like it due to its flexibility of bottle size and five year warranty on the compressor, as well as other positive reviews we found on the internet regarding delivery and responsiveness of customer service to delivery issues.  

At the end of the day, each of these units covers the intended purpose: keeping about 50 wines cool at a stable temperature with enough humidity and minimal light exposure and vibration.  

Best of luck in selecting your wine refrigerator!

Cheers!

Top 5 Reusable Gift Bags for Wine

You’ve found the perfect bottle of wine for a housewarming gift, promotion present, or hostess offering. Don’t settle for that flimsy, disposable gift bag. Present the bottle in a gift bag that the wine-loving recipient will use again or proudly re-gift! Better yet, get two — give one away and keep one for yourself.  We’ve reviewed loads of gift bags for giving wine as a special present. This article details our top picks.

Why Use a Gift Bag for Wine?

The purpose of a gift bag is to show the recipient that you not only put some thought into the selected wine, but also that you cared enough to pair the packaging to the recipient’s style. Often, the selection available for wine gift bags does not match the style of the wine or personality of the recipient. For example, you don’t want punny wine sayings “It’s time to wine down!”) plastered on a bag containing a Bourgogne Grand Cru. Another consideration is that many paper gift bags simply end up in the trash heap without being re-used.

A higher-end, reusable wine bag not only impresses the giftee and makes the wine seem more special, it also serves as a discreet way to carry that special bottle. This is convenient in the event that you plan to bring the gift into an open office setting without making it obvious to your colleagues that you are gifting a bottle of wine.

Finally, the wine bag can serve as more than just a festive ornament. You may want to consider a wine bag that keeps the wine cool while you travel a long distance, or even help the recipient go the distance by selecting a wine bag that attaches to their bike!

Decide How Many Bottles

Is more always better? Not always. Our research found that wine gift bags overwhelmingly hold just one bottle of wine, which aligns with how we typically gift wine.  

Still, you may want to consider a two-wine gift bag if you think the recipient likes to start a meal with a sparkling or white wine and transition to a red wine for the meal. Or perhaps you want to offer one dinner wine and one wine that works well with dessert. A two-wine bag is also great when you want to carry one wine and one 750 mL bottle of sparkling water. Some two-wine bags can even hold magnums (1.5 L bottles). Wine bags can also be used to gift craft beer bombers and many whiskey and craft spirit bottles.   

What is the Best Wine Gift Bag for the Recipient?

Consider the recipient and their interests and hobbies. If you are unsure, take a look at their social media platforms, like Instagram or Pinterest. Their posts should give you a good idea of their style, interests, and perhaps even color preferences.  

Here are some questions to consider when selecting a bag for the recipient:

What colors does the recipient like?

Is the recipient up on trends or more traditional? Are they minimalist or extravagant?

Where will the recipient use the bag?

Will they use it indoors, outdoors, or both?

Might they use the bag for travel?  

Is the recipient a leather lover or would they prefer vegan materials?  

Keeping these considerations in mind, we found the following five bags to be our favorites.

Wine Tote by Viski

After just one look, we wanted to be seen carrying this classy bag to our favorite beach restaurant. We love the minimalist design. This gift bag differs from a lot of bags in that it does not look like a lunch bag. Also, the faux leather makes it a good selection for vegan friends.     

Pros: We liked the easy-to-clean faux leather. The modern design is refreshing. The magnetic stainless steel closure gives it a luxurious appearance.

Cons: There is no strap, and the metal closure might not be comfortable for carrying a long distance.    

Premium Insulated Wine Carrier Bag by OPUX

This wine bag looks like it came from of a high-end outdoor provisioning store. Riding on the current athleisure trend, it mixes sport, outdoors, and travel. The robust strap makes it ideal to carry some distance, and the brighter color options make it appealing for pool parties and housewarming gifts. The construction has some padding to help keep wines an appropriate temperature, however not so much as to make it bulky. The free corkscrew is a nice addition.

Pros: There’s an included divider to prevent bottles from clinking against each other. The bag comes in a wide selection of bright and dark colors. It is not heavy and can be reused as a lunch cooler. Great design for concealing  wine. The removable strap and standard handle make it easy to cover. There’s a small loop inside the lid for storing the corkscrew. The pocket does not have a zipper, making it handy to slip in a map, small booklet, or card for the recipient.     

Cons: Don’t fill bag with ice directly as melted water will leak out. Best for standard wine bottles as it is hard to get oversized, tall, or odd-shaped bottles in the bag.

Shintop Jute Wine Bags

This bag is our pick for bulk gift giving, let’s say for a bridal party or for a handful of favorite clients. Perhaps you would also like the option to personalize the bag for the recipient. This is also our pick for covering up wine bottles when hosting blind tastings. The Shintop Jute Wine Bag can also be used for storage or regifting items in addition to wine.    

Pros: We like that this eco-friendly bag is composed of burlap from natural jute. Unlike rough box store craft burlap, this burlap is silky and has no foul odors.  

Cons: While each bag comes with an attractive drawstring, the bag is not convenient for carrying to restaurant.

Fyxation Leather Bicycle Wine Carrier

If your wine gift recipient uses a bike for running errands — and those errands include picking up a wine or a beer bomber — this leather minimalist holder fits the bill. It’s perfect for wine country tours as well! Please bike responsibly!

Pros: Trendy and impressive. Made in USA of high quality full-grained leather.  

Cons:  Can be difficult for some users to figure out how to get a wine bottle in the carrier when it is attached to the bike. Use caution when inserting the bottle so you don’t rip the bottle label.  Not vegan. Higher price point than other options.

Kato Insulated Wine Carrier Tote

This bag is perfect if you don’t have time to do research on the recipient’s preferences and simply want a clean, timeless look. Any recipient will appreciate an easy-to-carry bag, especially if it comes with a free corkscrew!

Pros: We liked that the bag has three layers — durable polyester, foam, and aluminum. The divider keeps bottles from bumping against each other. The strap is removable and has a metal buckle. The bag features sturdy handles and a small zippered pouch on the outside to store a corkscrew.

Cons: Some users report that the item does not include the corkscrew as indicated at time of purchase. It’s triple layer construction also means that if it is squished during delivery, it can take some time for it to return to its normal shape. This might put gifters in a bind if the item does not go back to its original shape between unpackaging and gifting. Like all the other bags reviewed, this one is not leak proof.

Conclusion

When it comes to wine gift bags, there are a lot of options out there. These are just a few of the great gift bags currently available. We like that these gift bag options are reusable, unlike the flimsy, disposable wine gift bags you find in grocery stores.

For us, the winner was the Premium Insulated Wine Carrier Bag by OPUX. In fact, we snagged one of these ourselves for a hostess gift. We like the durability and the range of colors. The black and grey options are timeless, and the brighter colors are great for those who like bold colors. The bag keeps wine cool while transporting to parties, and packs well in checked luggage. When not in use for carrying wine, it doubles as a weekday lunch bag.

Finally, if you multiple wine lovers on your shopping list, check out our ultimate guide to gifts for wine lovers!

Cheers!

Yeti Rambler Insulated Wine Tumbler Review

Entertaining (and being entertained) al fresco is fabulous. What’s not so fabulous is pouring a refreshing glass of Pinot Grigio while setting up the patio for a dinner party, only to return to a lukewarm glass of wine.  Or perhaps you’ve attended attended a holiday market with mulled or gluhwein only to find it cold in just a few minutes. Also, wine glasses can shatter on patios or at poolside, which is why most outdoor venues don’t allow glass. All good reasons to invest in an insulated wine tumbler, either for yourself or as a gift for a fellow wine lover!

Before Buying a Wine Tumbler

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At KnowWines, we love pairing a beautiful outdoor setting with a great wine. If you also enjoy outdoor entertaining, outdoor concerts and sporting events, camping, and/or boating, an insulated wine tumbler is essential. This tumbler would also make a thoughtful gift for a wine enthusiast, especially if they also the outdoors.

Here’s what to consider:

The ability to maintain desired temperature should be your first concern when purchasing a wine tumbler. Other factors to consider are the conditions in which you’ll be using the tumbler, durability, look, feel, and ease of cleaning.  

You’ve probably experienced double-walled beverage mugs for keeping coffee warm. In the past few years, similarly constructed tumblers became available for wine. We supposed you could put your coffee mug on double duty and use it for wine, but this is less than ideal aesthetically. Also, you don’t want residual coffee flavors to interfere with the wine’s flavor and aroma. Disposable cups are also not ideal. A tumbler is a great upgrade.

Does your wine tumbler need a lid?  Lids are only needed if the tumbler will be used in areas where flying insects, splashing water, or sand could get in the wine tumbler (like the beach). Remember that using a lid when drinking wine can greatly diminish the pleasure of drinking wine, especially aromatic wines like Riesling and Pinot Noir.

From our own experience and from reviewing dozens of wine tumblers online, our number one recommendation is  the YETI Rambler 10 oz. Insulated Wine Tumbler.


The Yeti Rambler 10oz Insulated Wine Tumbler

Yeti is a trusted and premium brand for not only outdoor coolers, but also outdoor gear and drinkware. The brand has been around since 2008 and is considered the market leader. Their cooler and beverage products have a reputation for durability. The Yeti 10 oz. Rambler Insulated Wine Tumbler was officially released in spring of 2018.

The Yeti 10 oz. Rambler Insulated Wine Tumbler is designed to have the look and feel of a premium product while also keeping wine cool (or warm in the case of mulled wine) and remaining durable in outdoor conditions. It is also made to clean easily and resist wine stains.  The tumbler comes in a box and care instructions and a registration card for a five-year product warranty.

The product is for wine lovers looking for a premium tumbler to keep their wine at an enjoyable temperature for an extended period of time. The product is not for people who want a lid for their wine tumbler included with purchase.

Pros

  • Keeps wine at the desired temperature range when compared to traditional drinkware

  • Premium look and feel

  • Trusted drinkware brand

  • Durable

  • Dishwasher safe

Cons

  • Limited number of colors

  • Some users want a lid included with purchase (sold separately)

  • Some users report a “stainless steel” smell during first few uses

  • Reduced ability to swirl wine in the tumbler when compared to traditional wine glassware

Features and Benefits

Packaging

We tested a YETI 10 oz. Rambler Insulated Wine Tumbler that was part of a two-pack.  Standard colors are sold as two-packs or singles, and tumblers in seasonal or trendy colors are sold as singles. The two-pack is secured by an adhesive glue to the sturdy cardboard box to keep the tumblers from rolling around during shipping and while sitting in store displays. We found the tumblers easy to remove from the package. Some online comments indicate that the adhesive can be difficult to remove, but we did not find that in our case.

Upon removing the wine tumblers from their box, we found product inserts in each tumbler.  These inserts provide instruction on how one can register their product on the YETI website.  Washing is by hand or dishwasher.

Measurements

The tumbler is 4.5 inches tall and 3.5 inches wide. The weight is about 8.12 ounces when empty.

Look and Feel

Before placing wine in the tumbler, we took some time looking at and feeling the tumblers.  We noticed a consistent and visually appealing paint job with no bumps or thin spots in the paint.  The YETI logo is prominent in two places on the tumbler, on one side as a raised logo and the other side in stainless. The logo is tastefully done and does not detract from the minimalist aesthetic.  

The tumbler is narrower at the top and rounder at the bottom, replicating the look of luxury stemless glassware. However, when peering into the tumbler, we noticed that the walls of the tumbler are not bell-shaped like the exterior of the tumbler. The lip of the tumbler was much thinner than that on other insulated beverage containers like coffee mugs, however it was thicker than most wine glassware. We knew we would need to test swirling and the impact on aromas of this design (more on that below!).

Our testers had medium to large hands. We found the tumblers easy to handle and did not notice any sharp edges. The texture of the paint was smooth and pleasant. One tester had recently put on hand lotion and commented that this might make the tumbler slippery in the hand. We also noted that friends with smaller hands might find the tumbler a little on the large side.  

Our testers appreciated that the tumbler is not clear, so no one can see what you are drinking.  One tester does not drink alcoholic drinks, and liked the idea of having the tumbler at parties and filling it with cool sparkling water or fruit juice.  

Temperature Assessment

The tumbler uses YETI’s double-wall and vacuum construction aimed at keeping cold beverages cold and warm beverages warm.  We wanted to see how long the YETI 10oz Rambler Wine Tumbler would keep the wine at ideal drinking temperature.

We tested the YETI Wine Tumbler in two situations: keeping a serving of Pinot Noir cool on a warm day and keeping a serving of gluhwein warm on a cool day.

Warm Weather, Cool Wine

We compared the performance of the YETI Rambler Insulated Wine Tumbler to our favorite Riedel glasses. Many consider the ideal drinking temperature for Pinot Noir to be between 55 and 60 F, which is difficult to maintain long-term in warm conditions in traditional glassware.  

We refrigerated a bottle of Pinot Noir overnight. The next afternoon, we removed the Pinot Noir from the refrigerator. When the wine was 48 F, we weighed 5 oz of the wine and placed it in the room temperature YETI Rambler Insulated Wine Tumbler.  We weighed 5 oz of the same wine and placed it in the Riedel glass.

We took the tumbler and glass outside on the deck, where it was 78 F and partly cloudy with humidity 35%. We used a dual probe thermometer to monitor temperature.  We placed one probe in the wine in the YETI tumbler and another probe in the Riedel glass of wine and waited for the warm up.

Within 20 minutes, the Riedel glass wine was up to 60 F, and by 45 minutes, the Riedel glass wine was up to 65 F.  It took the YETI tumbler 1 hour and 15 minutes for the wine to get to 55 F, and after 2 hours, the wine in the YETI tumbler was 60 F.  

Cool Weather, Warm Mulled Wine

Most North American users would use the YETI Rambler Insulated Tumbler during the warmer months, however drinking mulled or gluhwein in the winter months is popular with the increasing number of outdoor holiday markets throughout the world (Christkindlmarkt, as they are called in Germany). Many consider the ideal drinking temperature of gluhwein to be 130 F.  

To simulate cool weather conditions for Christmas markets, we heated gluhwein to 185 F. We measured 5 oz of the hot gluhwein and placed it in a room temperature YETI tumbler, and placed another 5 oz of hot gluhwein in a room temperature traditional Christkindlmarkt mug.  For those events, it would be nice for the wine to stay warm for an extended period of time.

We placed the YETI tumbler and the Christkindlmarkt mug into a 42 F refrigerator to simulate a cool December afternoon and used a dual probe thermometer to monitor the falling temperatures of the gluhwein.

Within ten minutes, the gluhwein in the traditional mug had cooled to 130 F and within 20 minutes, the temperature was a lukewarm 105 F.  It took 20 minutes for the gluhwein to cool to 130 F and it was 45 minutes until the gluhwein was lukewarm at 105 F.

In conclusion, the YETI Rambler 10 oz. Insulated Wine Tumbler kept wines within ideal drinking temperatures at least twice as long as traditional wine vessels.  

Drinking Assessment

The YETI tumbler tumbler holds 10 oz of liquid. For context, most bartenders and sommeliers serve a 5-oz pour.

Since the tumbler performed quite well in its ability to hold the temperature of wine at ideal drinking temperatures, we wanted to test the impact of the tumbler on aromas and taste compared to drinking from a premium wine glass.

First we swirled the wines in the tumbler and glass. Swirling in the tumbler is just not as fun and impactful as using the Riedel glass, as the side walls in the tumbler are too straight.  

Secondly, we sniffed the wines. There was a perceptible difference between the aromas in the YETI tumbler and the Riedel glass. The Pinot Noir’s fruity aromas and spice from oak aging were more distinct in the Riedel glass.  

Third, we tasted the wines in the tumbler and glass (we know, hard work!). Drinking out of the YETI Wine Tumbler was not the same as drinking wine out of a Riedel glass. However, drinking wine out of the YETI Wine Tumbler was more pleasurable than drinking it out of a coffee mug or plastic cup. We did not smell any off aromas or detect off flavors in the tumbler.    

Cleaning the Tumbler

Washing instructions indicate that you can clean the YETI Wine Tumbler by hand or in the dishwasher. We washed the YETI Wine Tumblers thoroughly before use, as some online reviewers indicated a stainless steel smell when first using the tumblers.

During our testing we put one YETI insulated wine tumbler into the dishwasher three times and the other one we washed by hand. We didn’t notice any change in color or feel of the paint.

The YETI website claims that the tumbler does not stain, and we found this to be true.    

Social Proof

In addition to our own testing, we did online research and discovered that the reviews were overwhelmingly positive. The most positive reviews are in line with our experience —  people love the look and feel of the YETI insulated wine tumbler, and it keeps their favorite wine and other beverages cold. The few negative reviews we found were from individuals looking to replicate the fine wine experience they are used to in a glass. Like them, we found that swirling can be a little difficult and some wine aromas are muted when compared to traditional glassware. Our tumblers did not have the “stainless steel” smell to them that very few other reviewers found.  

Alternatives

Overall, we found the YETI 10 oz Rambler Insulated Wine Tumbler a great fit for drinking “everyday” wines in outdoor conditions. Here we indicate a few more premium options if the size of the YETI tumbler does not fit the place you intend to use it (say, in your beach chair’s cup holder).

For those with smaller hands and/or wanting more pastel color options, we recommend the Hydro Flask 10 oz:

For those who want a more “grippy” and textured surface, the Gold Armor:

For those who are concerned about a stainless steel smell or taste and want to see wine in the tumbler, or who want to use the tumbler for wine slushies and have concerns about a metal tumbler sweating, we recommend Tervis:

For those wanting a fine wine drinking experience with an insulated wine tumbler similar to that with your favorite glassware, you might be out of luck. We’ve yet to find a super-thin rimmed insulated wine tumbler on the market.  

Conclusion

The YETI 10 oz Rambler Insulated Wine Tumbler keeps your wine within the ideal drinking window at least twice as long as premium wine glassware. The tumbler is ideal for use in areas where premium wine glassware is not allowed or could easily break. With its sleek design, the YETI 10 oz. Rambler Insulated Wine Tumbler has the look and feel of a premium tumbler and is available in classic and limited trending colors. The YETI 10 oz Rambler Insulated Wine Tumbler is easy to clean by hand and in the dishwasher.  

We recommend the YETI 10 oz Rambler Insulated Wine Tumbler for drinking value, mid-priced, and premium wines. We would not recommend them for super-premium and luxury wines as the lip width and interior vessel shape are not optimal for enjoying fine wine.

Buy the YETI 10 oz Rambler Insulated Wine Tumbler (and its lid) here:

Enjoy those outdoor beverages.

Cheers from KnowWines!