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About Winston's Wisdoms
Winston, the endearingly drawn gent you see raising his glass, has been the Wine Enthusiast logo for nearly 30 years—and the symbol of unsurpassed expertise in wine accessories and storage.

Winston's Wisdoms Blog is the place where our experts share their knowledge and answer some of the most commonly asked wine-related questions. It's the place where you can ask questions and share insights from your own wine experience. We welcome your feedback and invite you to offer your wisdoms to wine lovers everywhere!

Around the Web in Wine Accessories: Wine Cork Roundup

 
Wednesday, June 29th, 2011 at 9:50:33 AM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Here at Wine Enthusiast, we know that exciting content is written every day about wine accessories. We strive to stay on top of it for our own benefit, but we want you to be in-the-know, too! As such, we are introducing an exciting new series on Winston’s Wisdoms: Around the Web in Wine Accessories, where we feature rundowns on the latest tips and ideas in various wine accessory topics. First up, our wine cork roundup!

Do-it-yourself cork projects are ever evolving in their creativity and practicality. We’ve compiled some of our favorite examples of inspiring wine cork creativity and wrapped them up in this page-length package to share with you. Below you’ll find ideas for key chains, picture frames and almost everything in between – the options for recycling and reusing your wine corks are seemingly endless. If we happened to miss a good post, or if you have some creative ideas to share of your own, feel free to drop a comment below!
Without further delay, the DIY craft ideas that we love the most…

Key Chains
Bring your favorite bottle of Riesling with you everywhere you go.

Wine Cork Key Chain from Cleverly Inspired

Wine Cork Key Chain from Cleverly Inspired

Key Chain from Rustic Crafts

Key Chain from Cleverly Inspired

For your Home

Who thought you could dry your feet with those old bottles of Cabernet?

Source: Crafty Nest

Wine Cork Bath Mat from Crafty Nest

Bath Mat from Craftynest.net

Picture Frame from V-Spot

Drawer Pulls from Re-Nest.com

Tile from Re-Nest.com

Planters from Mychiclife.com

For the Kids & You
Don’t worry, there is fun for all ages here!

Wine Cork Tacks from The Wooden Bee

Wine Cork Tacks from The Wooden Bee

Tacks from TheWoodenbee.com

Dolls from Increations

Pens from Recycled Crafts

Stamps from Lilblueboo.com

Stamps from Zakkalife

Stamps from Craftzine


Monograms

Incredible recycling projects for those with an interest in design and typography.

Wine Cork Monogram from My Happily Ever After

Monograms from My Happily Ever After

Monograms from My Happily Ever After

Monograms from Green is Universal

Fashion

You are a wine enthusiast, and you’ve got the accessories to prove it.

Hair Pin from Kara Paslay Design

Pins and Hairclips from Kara Paslay Designs

Pins and Hairclips from Kara Paslay Designs

If craftiness isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other ways to recycle your wine corks. ReCork is an organization that takes recycled corks and then reprocesses them into sandals by partnering with the Sole shoe company. They have drop-off centers in the U.S. and Canada, including our own headquarters in Mount Kisco, NY.

For more great DIY projects, check out our Wine Cork Crafts section to shop our selection of kits to make trivets, serving trays and more.

10 Tips for Toast of the Town Attendees

 
Tuesday, June 14th, 2011 at 4:18:08 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Our final Toast of the Town event this year is this Friday, September 23rd in Miami, and the enthusiasm is off-the-charts! Whether a new attendee or a seasoned veteran, we’ve compiled 10 helpful tips to make your night memorable. Cheers!

Toast of the Town, Crostini
10. Arrive early.
When possible, it’s best to give yourself plenty of time to enjoy all of the spectacular wine and food—and beat everyone else to it! Being “fashionably late” will not do you any good. The event begins at 6:00 for VIP ticket holders and 7:00 for Grand ticket holders.


9. Be comfortable.

You will be on your feet for a few hours, tasting wine and food from all corners of the world. The last thing you want ruining a delectable tuna tartare is foot pain. Look nice, but comfort is key.

8. Blaze your own trail.

Groups of people will typically crowd around certain dishes and wines. A kobe beef burger or a 2004 Brunello will surely be popular, but wait for your moment to get a taste. Blaze your own trail to the hamachi with chive oil and return to the kobe beef once everyone has moved on.

7. Be Social.
People from all areas come to Toast of the Town for a chance to taste exotic treats. Why not mix and mingle over some of your favorite dishes? Chat up wineries and restaurateurs as well, they may have their own interesting stories.DC Toast of the Town


6. Make it memorable.

After tasting a multitude of wines, things may start to get fuzzy. Take every opportunity you can to take business cards and menus from restaurants that you particularly enjoy. These will be useful devices in the morning, when you’re trying to recall who made the oyster shooters or which Riesling was your #1 choice. Jot down tasting notes in your booklet for your favorite sips.

5. Be Daring.

It’s a tasting event after all, so taste something new! Go outside of your comfort zone by seeking out unique wines like Gruner Veltliner or maybe a Pinot Noir from Chile. This is a great chance to broaden your horizons, so take advantage of it.

4. Bring A Novice.

One of the joys of wine is being able to share your knowledge with friends so that they may appreciate it as much as you. Use a wine/food tasting event as an opportunity to introduce someone you love to the world of wine.

3. Bring Accessories.
This wine glass holder necklace may look unorthodox, but it can make a world of difference. (Just read the customer reviews.) Rather than juggling a plate and glass, you can be hands-free while enjoying your food. Can’t beat that!

2. Don’t Miss a Thing!

A guide to the Miami event is available for you to download at the bottom of the page here. Preview all the wine and food before Friday and make sure you hit all the tables on your wish list!

1. Be Responsible.

Nobody wants to be remembered as the guy/gal who fell asleep in the guacamole. It’s great to return for more of your favorite wines, but remember that this is a “tasting” event, not a drinking spree.
I’m sure many of you have honed in on your own tricks of the trade. If you have anything to add, please share with the rest of us!

Top 10 Reasons You Need a EuroCave Wine Cellar

 
Monday, May 2nd, 2011 at 4:49:20 PM
by Marshall T., Wine Enthusiast Companies

With all the different wine storage options on the market today, what is it that makes EuroCave the King of Cabinets, the Sultan of Storage, the Czar of Cellars, the… well I think you get the picture. As sales manager of our wine storage consulting team at Wine Enthusiast, I am often asked: “Why do I need a EuroCave?” To help shed some light on what makes these units so darn special, I have composed a Lettermanesque Top 10 List of why I recommend Eurocave wine cellars:EuroCavePerformance283

10. They offer a wide selection of sizes, options and price points to suit everyone’s needs.

9. All units are manufactured in Europe with both cooling and heating equipment that is built to last and have been for 30+ years.

8. You have outgrown your smaller wine refrigerator and need to step up to something that can really age some of your finer wines.

7. They look fabulous and will be the focal point of your dining room or bar area.

6. With their protective doors and super absorbent rubber compressor shock absorbers, they provide the most protective storage environment from harmful light and vibration.

5. Your neighbor just got one and you need to show him that you can hang!

4. The adjustable shelving system allows you to store ANY size bottle and gives you the option to bulk store for increased capacity, or to use only rolling shelves if you decide stacking bottles is just not for you.

3. It will be going in your garage and it is the only unit that can withstand those extreme hot and/or cold temperatures.

2.  You have lost enough bottles due to improper storage climate and you need a unit that can maintain the best temperature and humidity for ideal long term storage conditions.

1. Because EuroCave is simply the best !

As always, you can contact any of our experienced Wine Storage Consultants at 800-377-3330 for a full wine cellar consultation.

Choosing Your Wine Cellar: Bottle Count, Built-In or Under-Counter

 
Thursday, April 28th, 2011 at 9:13:28 AM
by Marshall T., Wine Enthusiast Companies

The world of wine storage has seen significant advances over the past few years. One of those advances has been a dramatic increase in the number of smaller Wine Coolers. While variety is the spice of life, it can be tough to navigate through the maze of wine refrigerators and wine cellars, especially for the novice collector.

SmallRefrigerators

Selecting a Bottle Count

The most popular question  I come across from people just starting their wine collection is “How much capacity do I need?” Deciding what size unit, or what bottle count, is dependent on many factors, including:

  • the amount of space you have
  • where in your house you plan to keep it i.e. under-counter or on top of a counter
  • how large your collection is and how much you anticipate it growing

If you are planning on keeping it on a counter top, then one of the 12 Bottle Silent Units is the way to go. There are 1 temp and 2 temp options (the 2 temp allows you to serve white wines from the unit), and like all Silent Wine Refrigerators they need around 2-3” clearance in the back, top and sides. You can use a 16 Bottle as a Countertop Unit as well, but standard cabinet height usually makes that a little difficult when taking the clearance into consideration.

If you are going to put your wine cooler under the counter, the silent units can work as well as long as it is set up in a “recessed” fashion and given the same clearance as mentioned above, but a true built-in unit may function a little better. Typically you want to get a unit with at least 25-50% more capacity than the amount of bottles you already have. If I have learned anything over the years helping customers with their wine storage needs it’s that it’s always better to have more capacity available and not need it, than to need more capacity and not have it! Plus if you entertain often or have certain family members that dig into your wine collection at will, it’s advantageous to keep a few extra bottles on hand to oblige.

Long or Short-Term Storage

Another thing to keep in mind is that all of these thermoelectric Silent units are meant for shorter term storage, and to a degree the same goes for the N’Finity units.  So if your goal from the start is to age your wine for the long-term, than you probably want to look at an actual wine cellar, such as a Vinotheque or EuroCave. Because they are created to provide the optimal storage climate for proper long term aging, going with even an entry level, smaller wine cellar unit will be a much smarter investment for your future wine collection.

The bottom line is this; you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a unit that will store your wine properly. But you should be considering how much you are spending on wine to help decide what quality level of unit you should use to store it. If you tend to just keep a couple of cases of $20-50 wine and none of it lasts more than a year or so, then one of the Silent Refrigerators or N’Finity Wine Cellars are perfect. However, if you have even a few top quality wines that you are expecting to last for the long haul, you may want to consider going with a wine cellar worthy of your collection.

As always, if you need any guidance or advice I urge you to contact one of our experienced Wine Storage Consultants at 800-377-3330 for a full consultation.

In The Aerator Age, Do You Need a Decanter?

 
Monday, April 25th, 2011 at 12:37:55 PM
by Marshall T., Wine Enthusiast Companies

With all of these new wine aerator options do I still need my trusty old decanter?

Like it or not, The Aerator Age is upon us and it looks like it is here to stay. While the traditionalists may be inclined toNuancePour fight this trend, there are some valid reasons why this new technology has become all the rage.

Aerators tend to open up wine faster than decanting, and if you are only going to have a glass or two you don’t have to decant the entire bottle. So it brings about the question, do I even need my decanter any longer?

The answer is… it depends. Products such as the Vinturi Wine Aerator, Nuance Wine Finer and the Rabbit Wine Aerator have revolutionized wine service. These devices create so much aeration for wine in such a small amount of time that it allows all the bouquet and flavors to come to life within seconds. Because they are either hand-held or fit in right in the neck of the bottle, they are extremely easy to use especially for single glass service. For this reason, you will now find one of these aerators in most tasting rooms. Wineries want you to get the full sensory experience of their top tier offerings, especially since young wines that are big and tannic benefit most from this method.

Fusion Decanter PouringThat being said, not everyone wants to speed up this process. There is certainly something almost sacred about slowly pouring a bottle into a beautifully crafted crystal wine decanter while holding a candle to it in order to check for sediment, particularly in those older wines that may be a bit more delicate. Better quality wines will also constantly change while in the decanter, an effect you lose when utilizing the ultra fast aerators. It can be quite revealing to smell and taste the wine at different points while it is opening up, as the aromas and flavors can grow deeper and more complex.

So if you are a bit impatient and find the prolonged wait time of decanting just a nuisance, or you like to enjoy your wine one glass at a time, then you are ready for all that The Aerator Age has to offer. But if you are from the school of thought that good things come to those who wait, and believe the process of decanting enhances the entire wine experience, then keep on decanting!

But don’t forget, there is no reason you can’t utilize both options and pour the wine through the aerator into the decanter. This can result in optimal pleasure for those really young, or older, wines that need an enormous exposure to air to exhibit all they have to offer.

4 Simple Tips to Maximize Your Champagne Experience

 
Wednesday, February 9th, 2011 at 4:58:13 PM
by David M., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Why wait for a special occasion?Fusion Infinity

Champagne can be enjoyed all throughout the year.  Whether it’s complementing brunch or a midnight snack, here are some simple tips to make the most of your Champagne experience.

1) Enjoy chilled. Would you want to drink warm Champagne?  I certainly wouldn’t. If  Champagne is not at the ideal temperature its delicate flavors will be masked by the heat.  Secondly, warm Champagne creates excess foam when you open the bottle which results a loss of Champagne.
Champagne should be colder than white wine.  42-45 degrees is the ideal serving temperature. For a rapid Champagne-chilling process,  place the bottle in a bucket of ice and add a bit of water to it.  After about 20 minutes, you should be good to go.

2) Utilize proper opening techniques. Loosen the wire cage around the top of the bottle and turn the bottle (not the cork) with a towel covering the neck.  Using a towel ensures that you catch the popped cork and cleans up any spillage. It also helps your grip.

3) Pour slowly. Now that you have impressed your friends with your opening technique, you’ll want to start pouring!  Start off slow.  Tilt the Champagne flute and pour a small amount in the glass, trying to avoid excess head (This isn’t beer, people!)  Once the initial foaming stops, continue to pour until the glass is about 2/3rds full.

4) Hold the glass by the stem. If you plan on savoring the nectar, hold the glass by the stem as your hand will warm the Champagne a bit quicker.

Practice makes perfect!

Do Spirits Need Their Own Glassware, Like Wine Does?

 
Thursday, January 27th, 2011 at 1:10:05 PM
by Marshall T., Wine Enthusiast Companies

There are a number of variables that factor into the enjoyment of wine and spirits which may be different for each individual. For some it may be associated with a favorite meal, for others it may have more to do with the company in which it is being consumed. Regardless of when or where you choose to enjoy your favorite libation, using the proper stemware made specifically for that style can truly enhance the experience.Ridel VinumSingle Malt Scotch Glass

Most members of the wine community are aware of all the different varietal glasses (Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, etc) and how the shapes and sizes bring about the aromas and flavors specific to those wines. What you may not realize is the same dynamic goes for spirits and their glassware. Let’s take Whiskey for example look at the standard Single Malt Scotch Glass.

First and foremost, the glass should have a tulip shape. The purpose of this is to concentrate all the aromas towards the top of the glass, whereas in a tumbler they settle more in the middle or even towards the bottom. In fact, some Whiskey aficionados will argue that a brandy snifter should be used to intensify this effect, however if your sense of smell is a bit sensitive this may not be the best idea.

Just like wine, the aromas and color will offer much insight to the whiskey’s quality and style. So the shape and clarity of the glass both play pivotal roles in exhibiting the spirit in its truest form. The glass should also allow the spirit to reach all parts of the tongue so that you can distinguish between the different aspects as well as appreciate the mouthfeel, or weight, of the whiskey.Glencairn Whiskey

The bottom line is this… all spirits have their own specific glassware for a reason. Otherwise we could all drink every beverage from a plain old water glass! So if you are looking to intensify your tasting experience the next time you indulge, sip your favorite drink from its proper glassware. It just may open your senses as to why true connoisseurs are such a proponent of this practice.

A Dual Zone Wine Cooler: The Right Choice For You?

 
Tuesday, January 25th, 2011 at 4:21:31 PM
by Marshall T., Wine Enthusiast Companies

If you have ever considered purchasing a wine refrigerator or cellar for your collection, there is probably a good chance you have asked yourself that exact question. The most basic of instincts leads us to assume that if one is good then two is better, seemingly making the decision easy to go for the Dual Zone option.  However wine storage is not quite that basic, and there are some things to consider before making your final decision.
Dual Zone Wine Cellar
First things first…ALL wine is stored at the same temperature for aging which is ideally 55 degrees including red and white wines, champagne and even port. So the main purpose of any dual zone unit is to have a section designated for service temperature. Most times they are made for white wine service (41-50 degrees), but certain units can have a section for red wine service (57-65 degrees).  So if your main goal is purely for storage, you can rule out the two temp option from the get go.

If you’re still considering the dual temp option, let’s take it one step further. How much of you’re unit do you need dedicated for service? Some dual temps are split in half, so you can use half for storage of all wines and the other half for service of (usually) whites. If you and your wine drinking contingency are big white wine drinkers, this probably makes sense. But if white wine consumption plays a smaller role in your house, then you may want to look for one that has just a small compartment for service, and not half of an entire unit.Dual Zone Temperature Control

So if you are someone who entertains frequently or finds that wines just don’t last more than a year or so in your wine cabinet, then a dual zone unit with service temp capabilities is right up your alley. However, if you are laying wines down for the long haul and aren’t really looking to utilize a service option, then sticking with a one temp unit may be a better choice. Remember, you can always stash a few bottles of white wine in your fridge to get them to drinking temperature. As for reds, by the time you open up a bottle, use a decanter and swirl it around a few times in the glass, it will come up to service temperature quicker than you may think.

Why Your ‘Cool’ Basement May Not Be Safe For Your Wine

 
Thursday, October 28th, 2010 at 5:05:11 PM
by Marshall T., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Basement
The aging process of wine can be a tricky concept to fully grasp, as wine itself is quite tempermental by nature. Wine has a handful of true enemies that can hinder its evolution into its greatest potential. Some of those enemies that will have the most adverse affect have to do with temperature range and consistency, humidity range and consistency, light, vibration and air cleanliness.

Proper storage temperature for all wine (red, white, champagne, etc) is between 53-57 degrees. Quite often people will ask if keeping wine at 60 degrees is bad for the wine, as their basement typically stays around that temperature. The answer is… it may be. At 60 degrees, the aging process is expedited. So a wine that should reach its peak in 8-10 at proper storage temperature may get there in 3-6 at 60 degrees. But more importantly is the CONSISTENCY of that 60 degrees in your basement.

While many basements may stay at 60 degrees for part of the year, it is very rare that the temperature stays consistently the same year round. So even a fluctuation from 58-70 from the coldest part of the year to warmest can be very harmful and is really what can ruin the wines over just a few years if it is not monitored properly. The same holds true for the humidity. While most basements may hold between 55-75% for part of the year, it is the times where it falls below or rises above those levels that the corks can either dry out or get over soaked and wreak havoc on your beloved wines.

Minimal light and zero vibration play very important roles in storage, however those are two variables that are fairly easy to control in your basement environment if everything else is optimal. But many people forget about the smells and odors that are inherent in their homes because we live with them everyday. Any kind of non neutral odor that passes through the cork and into the wine can interfere with the aromas and flavors that are evolving in your wines. This is the same reason we do not recommend using pine or cedar for wine cellar racks, as the aromatics can ruin an entire cellar filled with your prized collection.

So if you are lucky enough to live in a house that has an area that CONSISTENTLY stays between 53-57 degrees, 55-75% relative humidity, has little light, no vibration and no harmful odors….Congratulations! You have a natural wine cellar and you should load it up with as much great wine as possible, and maybe even charge your friends to store their wine in there as well. But if you are in the majority and have conditions that fluctuate on a yearly basis from these levels, then you may want to look into investing in a temperature controlled wine cellar or refrigerator. If you are not sure, place a temperature and humidity gauge in that area and take some readings as the seasons change. This way you can be sure that one way or another your wine is fully protected and ages exactly how it was intended.

The Heat is On! Keep Your Wine Cool

 
Thursday, July 8th, 2010 at 3:03:08 PM
by Marshall T., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Many people across the country are thinking the same thing right about now …when did it get so hot?! Not only does this heat and humidity take a toll on our bodies, our spirits and our Con Ed bills, but it also can take a big toll on our wine. Whether you have a few bottles or a few hundred, heat can destroy those bottles that you have stashed away somewhere in your home.WineinHeat
The ideal condition for storing wine (whether red, white, Champagne, Port, etc.) is 55 degrees and between 55% and 75% relative humidity. This is why storing in a regular fridge (too cold) or just a wine rack in a room temperature area (too warm) can be detrimental to wine. The lesser of these evils is to put it in a regular fridge, as that will just dramatically slow down the aging process. But after longer periods of time, this will adversely affect the wine too.
 
 
There are hundreds of different wine storage options to choose from for different collections and budgets. The small wine refrigerators are perfect for those who have a few bottles to a few cases. Most of them are thermoelectric units, so they are very quiet and can go anywhere in the house. There are also bigger wine refrigerator units that typically have a compressor and a front vent, like the ones in your kitchen. Those can be freestanding units, or you can build most of them into your kitchen cabinetry or bar area.
 
 
Then there are the real deal, freestanding wine cellars. There are many different brands and styles to choose from. Some are just larger versions of the smaller wine refrigerators while others, like the Eurocave units, are true wine cellars. Eurocaves are made to mimic the conditions of the old French caves, so you can store your wines for decades in these units. Some prefer the furniture-style cabinets that have wine cooling conditioners installed in them, so they not only serve as beautiful show pieces for your home, but will protect your collection as well.
 
 
Of course if you want to go all-out, you can take a room in your home and turn it into a true wine cellar. This is a pretty large, and potentially costly, undertaking.  It involves building out a room with a vapor barrier, proper insulation and the moisture resistant sheet rock. Then there is the cooling unit and racking to select and install. However, once it is finished it certainly becomes one of the coolest, and most functional, rooms in the house. Just be ready for the all the neighbors to be spending a little more time in your basement ;)
 
 
Have you ever saved a bottle for that perfect occasion, yet when the time comes, you open the wine and the first sip tastes like something you should be putting on your salad? I have and it was such a disappointing experience that I went out and got my first 15-bottle wine fridge and I haven’t looked back since. If your wines are battling the heat and losing the fight, help them out a bit and look into one of these refrigerated wine cabinets.
We have the greatest selection and best prices for all of these wine storage units! If you are looking for more information, just leave a comment and I will be happy to get back to you. Stay cool out there!


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