Winston's Wisdoms - A Blog
Where Our Passion for Wine & Accessories Is Shared
Subscribe to Updates:
RSS  Subscribe via RSS Feed

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!

Thoughtful Gifts for Your Wine-Loving Dad

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010 at 4:13:31 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

This Father’s Day, give Dad something more creative than a necktie. How about something he’ll really use, like a great accessory to enhance his wine enjoyment! We’ve selected our top-rated Father’s Day picks for the Dad who is a true oenophile.  They’re sure to make him feel special.

Flavor Enhancer and Decanter Set

Flavor Enhancer Aerator and Decanter Set
One of our newest aerating products, which will keep your Dad on the cutting-edge of wine technology. It maximizes flavor and aeration in three phases turning wine from good to better, to best! And it’s at a price that won’t break the bank.

35-Bottle VinoView Wine Display Refrigerator
Let Dad show off his wine collection with our popular VinoView wine refrigerator. Thanks to thermoelectric cooling, his wine will be safely stored at the proper temperature, while he displays his favorite labels in the special convex door.

‘Wine is Good’ Baseball Cap

This comfortable cotton brushed twill baseball cap is adored by customers who say it ‘adds a little bit of fun to your day.’ Dad can put his hobby on display wherever he goes, with this sporty hat!

Personalized Screwpull LM-400 Lever Corkscrew
Have Dad’s initial engraved for free, on this sleek corkscrew and he’ll be proud to use it to open his favorite bottles.

Wine Chicken GrillerWine Chicken Griller
This handy tool cooks up a juicy bird and is the perfect gift for a Dad who goes for the grill during the Summer months.

Wine Enthusiast Silent 28-Bottle Cellar
Pin-drop quiet performance and a stainless steel-trim door make this stylish wine refrigerator the perfect Father’s Day gift for a new wine collector.

Glencairn Whisky Glasses (Set of 4)
If your Dad is more of a Scotch man, the Glencairn “official whisky glass of the experts” is the perfect treat. He can sip his favorite libation like royalty, while knowing how much you care. Also, check out our new Wide-Bowl version!

Vinturi Wine Aerator
Dad will love showing off the enhanced flavor, bouquet, and finish that this aerator provides his wine. It’s the perfect gadget to complement his wine collection.

‘Wine Gets Better with Age’ Tee Shirt
This tee shirt is about as cute as it gets for Father’s Day. Your Dad will be turning heads on the street when he sports it around town! Wine Gets Better with Age Tee Shirt

Cherry Wood Thermometer & Hygrometer
For the Father who is already a proud cellar owner, this handsome thermometer takes it to new heights. Cherry Thermometer

What are you getting Dad this year? Leave a comment and let us know!

Our Favorite ‘Winey’ Wedding Gifts

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010 at 4:30:46 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

The weather is warming up and Summer months are beckoning us. For many the months of June, July and August mean something aside from beach vacation time: wedding season. While many couples have every bowl, blender and pickle plate pre-selected in a registry,  some may allow you to get creative with gifting. And there’s plenty of room for creative gifts amongst the engagement parties, bridal showers and bachelorette weekends that often come with the territory.

Toast for Two Wine and Picnic TableA friend of mine was recently looking for something more thoughtful for a bridal shower. She perused our site and found the Toast-for-Two Wine Table; a handy bamboo picnic table with slots for two glasses. What a perfect gift for a couple! Her friend will have a jealousy-inducing picnic accessory for her Summer plans. To top it off, I recommended a set of PolyCarb glasses which are so gorgeous, she’ll  fool anyone into thinking they’re real glasses.

We have a lot more beyond the Toast for Two. Here are our favorite ‘Winey Wedding Gifts’ that are sure to impress and delight any betrothed wine lover:

The Break-Free Polycarb glasses I mentioned come in various shapes and sizes and can even be personalized. Worry-free entertaining outdoors no longer means skimping on elegance. The engaged couple will appreciate you thinking outside-the-box!

Bordeaux Lazy Susan

One of our most popular new products is the Bordeaux Indoor and Outdoor Lazy Susan
A fleur-de-lys design is featured in the center with famous grape varietals lining the outside. It will look gorgeous in the new couple’s kitchen or outdoor patio!

Light reds are the perfect thirst-quenching wines for Summer so we are excited about the beautiful Beaujolais Carafe. It has a special ice pocket that keeps reds at the perfect level of cool, without watering them down. At $39.95 it makes an economical and elegant wedding gift.

If your friend is into gadgets, the Vinpodium Rapid Wine Chiller fits the bill. It has sophisticated technology that allows a proud owner to chill red or white wine in a matter of minutes while wowing guests.

Juicy birds will be a Summer essential with our Wine Chicken Griller, whether the bride and groom are great chefs or not. They simply fill the seasoning well with wine, beer or any other beverage of choice and let the liquid infuse as the chicken cooks on the grill.Wine Chicken Griller

The Screwpull Lm-400 Lever Corkscrew is a classic and supremely popular gift, plus the perfect complement to a new kitchen. It can even be personalized.

If a traditional gift is on the list, go for the strong and elegant Fusion Infinity Champagne Flutes. The new couple will be proud to toast their exciting future!SangriaPitcher

The newlyweds’ favorite refreshing beverage will be artfully displayed in this Hand-Made Sangria Pitcher, crafted in the artisan village of El Puente del Arzobispo. Its pinched spout will hold in fruit and ice perfectly during Summer parties.


Our gorgeous Hummingbird Feeder is an absolutely one-of-a-kind gift for the wine and nature lover. It’s crafted from recycled wine bottles with a hummingbird scene etched into it. It also comes complete with instructions for making nectar to attract birds.

For the couple at the beginning stage of wine collecting, our 12 Bottle Silent Wine Refrigerator will send them on their way. Ship it directly to their door and they’ll have a creative gift to congratulate them!

For more great gift ideas for any occasion, visit our gift center.

‘Like’ Wine Enthusiast on Facebook and Win BIG

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 at 3:38:22 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Exciting conversations are happening every day on our Wine Enthusiast Facebook page and the buzz just got even better, with the launch of our sweepstakes!

Fusion InfinityNow not only can you discuss your favorite wines, discover wine pairings, watch wine tasting videos and find wine events, you can also WIN BIG.

1 out of every 20 people who ‘Like’ our page on Facebook will win a 6-month digital subscription to Wine Enthusiast Magazine, a set of Fusion Infinity Stemware or a 12-bottle Touchscreen Wine Refrigerator.

You have until June 11th to enter. ‘Like’ us soon, for your chance to win!

Wine Wisdoms #53: Using a Vintage Chart

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010 at 12:53:19 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies


Our panel of editors at Wine Enthusiast Magazine don’t just rate wines, they rate entire vintages as well.

Vintages are rated by the weather a region experienced during that harvest year. For example, if Napa Valley had a terrible frost in 1989 that harmed the vines, it could negatively impact the wine in that year and therefore, the vintage rating. Wine can vary greatly between vintages so a vintage chart is a handy tool for predicting a wine’s quality and value.

To use the vintage chart:

1) Locate the name of the country your wine is from in the left column.

2) Once you’ve found its country of origin on the chart, scroll down to the region it’s from which is usually identified by the appellation on the bottle.

3) Find the wine’s vintage across the top of the chart and the corresponding square of Region/Vintage. You will see a rating in that box. The box will also be color-coded to correspond to its maturity in the year the vintage chart was produced.

Here is a key to the ratings:
98-100 Superlative
94-97 Classic
90-93 Excellent
87-89  Very Good
83-86 Good
80-82 Acceptable

The “Maturity” legend explains the colors.

You can access our 2010 vintage chart (which actually assesses 2009) here. Our iPhone application includes a handy vintage chart as well so you can lookup vintages on the go.  Find it here. Cheers!

Choosing a Wine Cellar Contractor: 10 Questions to Ask

Monday, April 19th, 2010 at 4:09:51 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Wine Enthusiast Wine Cellar Design

After you’ve spent time working with one of our Wine Storage Consultants to design the perfect wine cellar for your space, the next step is to choose a suitable contractor to handle the job. It is important to find someone who has ample expertise in building wine cellars. Here is a list of questions, courtesy of John Seitz, our Master Cellar Builder, which serves as a great road map on your journey:

1. How many climate controlled wine rooms have you built and can I talk to some of your clients?
You want someone that has experience with the issues involved with a climate controlled room. It is one thing to build a deck or remodel a kitchen, but another to correctly build a climate-controlled room.

2. What materials will you use for the vapor & moisture barriers? How will you install this material?
The product used to create these very important barriers is just as important as the installation. The right products installed incorrectly are just as bad for you as the wrong products.

3. Do you know why the barriers are required and what happens if they are not installed correctly?
This question may be a stretch for your average contractor but one never knows. If he/she does know the reasons behind the barriers, then they probably know how to do the work correctly.

4. Does the refrigeration equipment that you are installing make noise and does it exhaust hot air?
Most of the self-contained units are noisy and exhaust hot air. It is not a good sign if your person does not know this or tries to convince you that they do not.

5. What is the process for repairing the refrigeration equipment if it fails?
You do not want equipment that has to be returned to the manufacturer for service. This is a huge hassle and could leave you with no refrigeration in your wine room for weeks.

6. Does your refrigeration equipment increase the humidity in the room without any additional equipment?
This is a tricky question and will really show if your guy knows anything about the equipment and climate-controlled rooms. Most refrigeration does not increase humidity unless you add a humidifier.

7. Does your insurance cover the repairs if mold develops?
Mold will develop if the wine room is not constructed correctly. Your contractor should have insurance that will cover the cost of the repair if the room develops mold.

8. Are you building the racks yourself or buying kits?
How the racks are built is up to you. The idea behind the question is to make sure that there are no surprises.

9. What kind of door are you installing?
The door needs to be exterior grade with weather stripping and a threshold. If your guy does not know this, beware.

10. How much does a bottle of wine weigh?
This might be another trick question but think about it. You are asking them to build a room designed specifically to hold one thing – wine bottles. Is it too much to ask that they know some basic details? Additionally, they might not build the racks correctly if they do not know the weight of the bottles.

The specific answers to these questions are important but so is the contractors’ response. If they get defensive and shifty with their answers, beware. On the other hand, it is not necessarily a bad thing if they admit to some lack of knowledge.

For more advice on building your cellar, complete this form or call one of our wine storage consultants at 800.377.3330


Wine Wisdoms #52: What is a Tastevin?

Monday, April 5th, 2010 at 3:33:35 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

A Tastevin is a silver wine-tasting cup that hangsTastevin from a chain, like a necklace. Tastevins were originally used in dark wine caves in Burgundy. The dimples at the bottom of the tastevin caused light to reflect in the wine so the winemaker could assess clarity.

Though typically considered to be an old-fashioned style, some sommeliers still wear them, though they serve little purpose.

Wine Wisdoms #51: Get To Know Your Wine Slang

Thursday, March 18th, 2010 at 2:44:49 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies


When speaking about wine, formality sometimes goes out the door when you want to get right to the point. In these times, wine slang comes in handy. But if you can’t “talk the talk”, you’ll simply get lost when a knowledgeable oenophile starts throwing in foreign expressions. Maybe you’re familiar with common, proper phrases used to describe wine like body, mouthfeel, length and finish. But there are plenty of other wacky words that winos are well-versed in. These are just a few:

Plonk- Bad wine

Quaff- To drink, often used as the adjective “quaffable” to describe a basic, everyday, wine.

Cat Pee- A specific aroma, often found in Sauvignon Blanc. This means exactly as it sounds, though no actual cat pee is used to make the wine ;)

Hot- A wine with a high level of alcohol to the point of tasting out-of-balance.

Tight- An adjective used to describe a wine that needs time to open up or for the tannins to soften. Air or proper aging can help a tight wine.

ABC- Anything But Chardonnay/Anything But Cabernet, used to focus on other varietals.

Claret- an English phrase for a Bordeaux-style wine

QPR- Quality/Price ratio or a wine’s quality as compared to its price. A wine with a good QPR is a good value.

Entry-level Wine- A basic wine, often used to a describe the least expensive wine in a brand’s portfolio.

Clunker- A bad wine

Flabby- A wine that lacks a component such as acidity or tannin to bring it structure. Tastes overly soft and out-of-balance as a result.

Green- A wine that has a vegetal quality usually stemming from under-ripe grapes.

Muscular- A wine with a lot of body and typically strong tannin.

Cork dork- An extreme wine hobbyist. Usually has a high level of wine knowledge.

Are there other wine slang terms you are familiar with? Leave a comment and let us know!

Wine Wisdoms #50: Bottle Shock (Not the Movie)

Monday, February 15th, 2010 at 4:17:42 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies


Bottle shock is a phrase used to describe what happens when wine goes through tough conditions (travel, heat, cold, vibration) and changes for the worse. Symptoms such as muted flavors or a general disjointedness can be found in a wine that has experienced bottle shock. But don’t fret! Usually it resettles and fixes itself once stable for a period of time.

When we design custom wine cellars we build them to avoid anything that might cause botttle shock. Learn more about the enemies of wine, here

Bottle shock was also mentioned in the March issue of Wine Enthusiast Magazine. Find more wine articles at

Wine Wisdoms #49: Grower Champagne

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010 at 1:38:57 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Champagne ToastMost Champagne is from large Champagne houses which blend together wine from multiple vintages to create a distinct blend. These houses buy grapes from growers. Grower Champagne is an emerging trend in France that involves smaller, artisanal producers who craft Champagne from their own grapes. Grower Champagne is also referred to as “Artisanal” or “Estate-Bottled” Champagne.

As lovely as a great bottle of luxury Champagne is, it often commands a hefty price tag, while the lesser-known grower Champagnes can offer great value. Like any wine, Champagne is only as good as the fruit that goes into it, so the attention-to-detail that goes into Grower Champagne can pay off, both in the bottle and in your pocket!

You’ve Got The Wine Chicken Cooker, Now What? (5 Delicious Recipes)

Friday, January 15th, 2010 at 3:46:17 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

One of the most popular products we’ve  introduced this year has been the Wine Chicken Cooker

Wine Chicken Cooker

The handcrafted stone cooker cradles the bird, while the wine of your choice steams the inside, allowing its flavors to steep throughout the meat. Many of us have tried it at home and yielded moist, delicious results. You can even get creative with other beverages. A member of our staff used Red Stripe beer with curry seasoning!

Here are 5 creative recipes you can use, to make the most of your chicken cooker:

(Still need to purchase one? Find it here.)

Chef’s Tip: Always start your chicken in a cold oven i.e. , do not preheat.

Roast Chicken with Wine
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 1- 1.5 hours

1 whole chicken 3-4 pounds, thoroughly rinsed
1/2 cup white or red wine
1/2 cup of olive oil
2 tbsp. Italian spices
2 tbsp. oregano
2 tbsp. thyme
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper

Thoroughly mix the ingredients together in a bowl. Add 1/2 of the mixture to the well of the chicken cooker and the other 1/2 of the mixture to season the outside of the chicken. Plug the chicken with a piece of aluminum foil. Place the chicken into a “cold” oven and bring the temperature up together. Cook at 350F uncovered for 1 1/2 hours, basting occasionally with the drippings.

When finished, the internal temperature should be 180F when taken at the meatiest part of the thigh without touching the bone. Let chicken rest for about 10 minutes before serving.