Posts Tagged ‘wine gifts’

Part 4 of "The 12 Days of Wine Christmas" A gadget for geeks and tasting rooms – Vinassure Wine Preservation System

As a wine reviewer, geek, and consumer, wine preservation is one of my largest challenges. I regularly have 2-4 bottles of wine open at a time, often special ones I want to keep preserved.

Over the years I have tried many techniques and gadgets, with varying success. Fodder for another article, but let me just say, air is bad for wine and that vacuum pumps don't cut it.

Peter Jackel, the developer of VinAssure Argon wine Preservation, generic viagra with echeck is a wine geek and love, we chatted live prior to this article.

Why VinAssure

VinAssure grew out of a simple desire not to waste wine, and a practical business need to make good use of every last drop. For years Peter was the owner and proprietor of a small wine store and tasting bar. One day he calculated the dollar cost and waste of  tossed  wine that had just become an accepted sunken cost of the business. Even with a small program the numbers were staggering, as he realize he was pouring potential revenues down the drain.

Ditch the 'Can'

Peter first took the 'band-aid approach', and started using the disposable gas-in-a-can for preservation. This method was pricey for the low quality of preservation, but Peter was complacent with my hasty preservation solution., Then one day when a regular customer sitting at the tasting bar happened to see me gassing a bottle with the disposable can stuff. This sparked an in-depth lesson and virtual tongue lashing on how gas-in-a-can was a mixture of gases including Nitrogen and Carbon Dioxide that produced a drastically inferior barrier of protection against oxidation.

Peter quickly learned that experts and industry professionals resoundingly agree the best method is to seal in the aroma and flavor of wine by creating a layer of 100% pure argon gas, the heaviest and most dense of all colorless, od

orless gases that can be used to preserve wine. This conversation peaked my interest, and sparked what would become a three year journey to discover and develop the most effective, efficient, and affordable wine preservation system possible.

VinAssure is Born

One of the first high-pressure systems developed saw daily use in Peter's  wine shop and tasting bar for over three years. It was so simple and economical that they decided to develop variations of the basic system for use in both home and commercial settings. Using the finest quality industrial parts, they have created a lightweight, hand-held device which holds a great deal of argon gas under high pressure. This allows VinAssure™ to last much longer than other systems, lowering the per-use cost to a fraction of some comparable preservation systems.

VinAssure is simple and easy to use, check out this video in action.

The Perfect Gift for the Wine Lover (Or your Tasting Room/Wine Bar)

I bought one for myself I was so hooked after seeing it in action at a local tasting room. Its a biggest investment than the small cans, yes, but its a superior solution, refillable, and more environmental. Your wine aficionado will love you for it.

I have been amazed how many tasting rooms use the little cans…spend a

bit more now to save money long term, and preserve your wine much better and long. The ROI on this should be pretty short.

Other Geeks Agree!



Part Two of the '12 Days of Wine Christmas" – Cork Fabric Gifts

Guest Post by Diane Thompson.

I asked Diane to share information these amazing products, all of which would make an amazing gift for a wine lover. We had one of the wine totes made with our new wine brand, Two Shepherds, logo added, and it looks wonderful! Cortizza sells fashion, business, wine and travel accessories, all made from sustainable cork fabric.

Learn about how these products are real pharmacy discount made below, then check out their website and products. These items are great as gifts, and also available wholesale to wineries for tasting room merchandise.


Cork – It’s Not Just for Wine Anymore!

I’d like to introduce you to cork.  But, you say, you already know cork?  Sure, it’s that cylinder that you pop out of a wine bottle.  Maybe you’ve seen cork flooring or a cork bulletin board,  but, how about cork fabric?  No?  Well, you’re in for a treat!

Sometimes called cork leather or cork skin, cork fabric starts out the same way as those familiar wine corks, but develops into an entirely different form factor.  Cork fabric is a beautiful, exotic and sustainable alternative to animal leather.

Cork 101

Cork is a unique and sustainable material, regardless of its final form factor.  Most of the world’s cork oaks grow in the Mediterranean basin.  Cork oaks typically have a lifetime of about

200 years and play a major role in maintaining the health and biodiversity of the environment.  25,000 species are supported, including endangered birds, plants and wildcats.  Cork is actually the outer bark of the cork oak and is harvested every 9-10 years without any damage to the tree itself.


How Cork Fabric is Made

After harvest, the cork is boiled and then made into a slab.  For “natural” cork fabric, the cork is very thinly sliced and laminated to a fabric backing using a very specialized process.  An almost unlimited variety of cork fabric patterns can be made by combining different slabs in unique “recipes” to create a cork block that is subsequently sliced and laminated.  Sometimes dye is used to add color, as well.  Different fabric backings can also vary the appearance of the cork fabric.


What Makes Cork Fabric Special?

  1. Luxurious texture.  Soft and supple, velvety or smooth, depending on the pattern.
  2. It’s unique.  Cork fabric can be made in an almost unlimited variety of patterns and colors.  When most people first encounter it, they are puzzled – is it leather?  It feels like leather or suede, but has more visual interest.
  3. It’s water resistant.  Water beads up and rolls off.  Easy clean up with mild soap and water.  It can actually be washed in the washing machine in warm water.  Don’t try that with animal leather!
  4. It’s durablefade resistant and lightweight.
  5. It’s versatile.  Use it anywhere you might use leather, plus applications where leather would never work – like an umbrella!
  6. It’s vegan.
  7. It’s hypoallergenic.  A substance in the cork bark called Suberin prevents the cork from absorbing water, dust, dirt, mold and mildew.


I have been so intrigued with the possible applications for cork fabric, that I have built a business around it.  Cortizza sells fashion, business, wine and travel accessories, all made from sustainable cork fabric.

Our products make great gifts for both men and women and they always get a “wow” from the recipient.  Most of our items can also be personalized with a logo or custom text, which we do with laser engraving.  If you’re curious about uses for cork fabric, spend a minute or two looking around our website!


Related Articles

Part 1 of “The 12 Days of Wine Christmas” – Why not Wine? Some Gift Pack Suggestions

A Call For Submissions & Samples for the "Twelve Days of Wine Christmas" – Repeat of Last Years Hit Series

Last year, almost on a whim, I ran an a article series called the “Twelve Days of Wine Christmas.” 

It was a big success with a total of hundreds of thousands of views when done, one of the top being buy essay canada

t Types and Benefits” href=”″

rel=”bookmark”>Part 4 of the “12 Days of Wine Christmas” Wine Clubs – A Review of Different Types and Benefits.

The series, expanded this year with more items and focus, included canadian viagra for sale games, gadgets, books, and more.

Feel free to contact SimpleHedonisms at to discuss your idea. Samples that can be used and photographed or video recorded, always appreciated, if practical. In some cases website information and pictures may suffice.

Items & submissions should be received by Dec 15th at the latest.


Part 11 of the “12 Days of Wine Christmas” Last Minute Gift Ideas, Local and Online; IWA eGift Cards

Its December 24th, and you have that nagging sensation you’d like one last additional gift, or remembered someone. What to do?

Up until now I have steered away from the traditional suggestions of gadgets, glasses, wine cellars, etc, as many suggestions abound on these.

eGift Card, Instant Gift, Instant Delivery at the Click of a Mouse

One fast, immediate gratification option: an eGift card from IWA, one of the Wine Catalogs I like to frequent.  Simply go online, decide the amount you want, enter the recipients email, and Voila – instant gift. This card is redeemable not only for cool wine stuff from the catalog, but also at Vintage Wine Estates wineries: Windsor Vineyards , Girard Winery , Fire Station Red and Windsor Sonoma Winery, as well as their cool new tasting room, which carries IWA items, in downtown Healdsburg. (If you visit, make sure you FourSquare check in for 20% of wine!)


1. Good Stemware:

Many solid choices here.  IWA is a one stop shop for a variety of stemware, including Riedel, Speigelau, and Schott Zwiesel. I have been ‘field testing ‘ their Ultima line since last summer, and am very pleased.

Ultima glasses are designed to be break resistant. Unfortunately the old breakage test video they had is gone, but these glasses are very hard to break and will survive falling over on marble, hitting the faucet, and other tests that kill most other classes, especially Burgundy ones (big bowl) which are my personal favorite and seem most prone to breakage. I love these glasses.

Want a set today to wrap? Call your local wine shop. (Healdsburg residents can pick them up at the Vintage Wine Estates tasting room.)

2. Every Day Stemware

For everyday glasses, or for those nights I have multiple bottles open and need table space, I am a fan of the Riedel O, stemless glasses. They are also great for microbrew, sparkling water at the dinner table. They take less space to store, and fit nicely in the dishwasher. Buy them online or pick up at most wine shops. Target even carries a set thats just slightly different, but Riedel O nonetheless.

What not to get a hardcore wine lover:

1. Whacky wine openers: most serious wine geeks I know, self included like a traditional waiters wine key. Buy a very nice one of those perhaps, one can never have too many. Not something that takes half a drawer, counter mounts, or is bigger than a wine bottle tself. Don’t get me wrong, perhaps not a bad present for some, but not your friendly Sommelier, Wine Maker, or Geek, in my opinion.

2. Clunky, think bowled stemware from a department store. Ugh. Stemware matters; if you aren’t a believer, sign up for the next Riedel tasting seminar you see.

Ok, its time for this Simple Hedonist to sign off and get busy with his own Holiday plans. I will have a final post tomorrow, and then shortly I will be sharing about some very exciting changes in my Wine Country Life – if you aren’t already aware!

Cheers and Seasons Greetings

The 12 Days of Wine Christmas

Part 1 of the “12 Days of Wine Christmas”: Wine Road Winter Wineland, Redwood Foodbank Raffle.

Part 2: “12 Days of Wine Christmas” – Gadget Review of the VinniBag

Part 3 of “The 12 Wine Days of Christmas” – The Wine Check (no, its not money!)

Part 4 of the “12 Days of Wine Christmas” Wine Clubs – A Review of Different Types and Benefits

Part 5 of the “12 Days of Wine Christmas” The Wine Soirée aerator & Limited Edition L/S

Part 6 of “The 12 Wine Days of Christmas” Lookout Ridge Winery & Wines for Wheelchairs

Part 7 of the “12 Days of Wine Christmas”: Book Review/Recommendation: The New Connoisseurs’ Guidebook to California Wine and Wineries

Part 8 of the “12 Days of Wine Christmas” Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Membership

Part 9 of the “12 Days of Wine Christmas” Make the Rhone Head in Your Life do a Backflip with Hospice du Rhone tickets

Part 10 of the “12 Days of Wine Christmas” – Wine! Holiday Gift Pack Specials, Shipping

Part 4 of the “12 Days of Wine Christmas” Wine Clubs – A Review of Different Types and Benefits

Are wine clubs a good value? Do they make good gifts? I will explore the various benefits, but in a short answer,  for the wine aficionado there are a number of reasons to consider. These  make an excellent gift for parents, kids over 21, people in far reaches of the country, as a way to expand their horizons, and get them off of ‘plonk’.

There are a variety of types of wine clubs; generally you can categorize them into Three:

  • Wineries Clubs that are Direct to Consumer (DTC)
  • Wine Shop Wine Clubs
  • 3rd Party or Aggregator like Wine Clubs.

Winery Wine Clubs

The most common of wine clubs; these can vary significantly by winery, but have numerous advantages.

  • Club members get discounts. Wine Clubs often have multiple tiers, and the higher the commitment, generally the larger the discount. (This is less of a benefit if you are already receiving Industry discount; although I have one wine club that doesn’t give Industry, a bit irksome, but love the wines.)   If you aren’t Industry, and buy a case or more a year of wine from a winery; consider joining the club if for no other reason  to save money. Wine Clubs like Quivira offer a large discount, on par with Industry, for the First 30 days of a new Wine Club release.
  • Access to Releases for Wine Club Only. Many of my clubs will do very small releases, perhaps 25-50 cases. These wines maybe reserved for Wine Club only and not for sale. Often this is a compelling reason why I join; lesser know varietals like Cinsault, a Rhone red varietal I am fond of; is the only way I can get it from Preston Vineyards.  Similar with Paso Robles Rhone producer Tablas Creek. Even very large producers like Kendall Jackson, who ship hundreds of thousands of cases a year; have wine clubs that offer small, under 20k case a year productions, available only in the tasting room and/or to Club members.
  • For Locals: Wine Clubs offer pickup events with music, food, and of course wine, often free pour. Sometimes these are free, or at very low cost. At a recent Wine Club event at Longboard, for $25  the event offered a band, an awesome pulled catered pork feast, free pour of new releases, and a bottle of Sauv Blanc to take home…find entertainment like this for that kind of money! Plus as a local you get to interact with the winemaker and the hospitality staff. Wine is as much about the experience and artisanship as it is the beverage.
  • For Non-Locals: Many great small wineries can’t find distribution as you go East. Why buy only mass produced wines, or be limited to what your local wine shop has, when 2-4 times a year you can receive a few bottles (or more) from your favorite producer.  If you are having your wine shipped, look at shipping costs and see if a larger membership makes sense.
  • Other benefits. Occasionally something very unique is offered. Rotie Cellars, one of my favorite Walla Walla Rhone producers is offering, until end of year only, Lifetime Pricing.  New members signing on by 12/31/10 get fixed pricing for the duration of their membership. FYI, Rotie Cellars is a highly rated, sought after producer, and the wine club list is nearing full and will close soon to allocation only.

Wine Shop Wine Clubs

No matter if you live in Wine Country, or in Wisconsin, I always encourage finding a good local wine ship to frequent. Here in Wine Country, its generally how we get wine from outside the area. In much of the US, this is your best bet to get small producers you can not find via retail. Mounts Family awesome Malbec or Grenache, or Cartograph Wines Pinot or Gewürztraminer isn’t going to be on your local Safeway, but your local wine shop may have it, or could order it if asked.

My favorite wine shop and wine shop club, is K&L Wines, also known as ‘my dealer.’ Why?

First their selections of wine, especially International, is amazing. They send buyers out all over the world to buy direct, so their prices are great. (Takes the sting out of not getting industry discount!)

Second, you can order quickly online, and WillCall your orders for 2 months. I order a bottle here, a bottle there, and then pick up my few cases when I swing through San Fran. (Other options are Redwood City, and Hollywood, CA.) They will also accumulate and ship; I used K&L regularly when I lived in Denver after I left the Bay area in 2002 .

Third, K&L has a number of wine clubs, but their most unique is the Personal Sommelier Service. You literally create your own wine club, picking price range, wine type, region. You can also pick from their extensive list of buyers, who makes your selections.So for example,  each month I have Mulan Chan-Randal pick for me a Rhone Red blend, from the Rhone Valley of France, for $20-$40. I have additional club picks where I have her select a Gigondas, and a Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Then I have a West Coast Red Rhone club, picking from CA, OR, WA. If I wanted I could make that as specific as Paso Robles, or Sonoma, only. If your selection is too narrow, the system will advise you perhaps you should widen your selection. You can revise any of the many variables each month if you like, or suspend one. You can have your monthly selection shipped, or held for Will Call. Highly Recommend.

3rd Party Wine Clubs

Lastly, there are ‘aggregator’ like wine clubs, like the International Wine of the Month Club, whose Chianti I reviewed recently. California Wine Club is one I belonged to many moons ago when living in Texas. Many lifestyle publications, like Sunset Magazine also have one. These can vary widely in focus and benefits, but typically they source wines from many producers, and include educational material, food pairings, winery information. These can be a great way to get diverse exposure of wines, domestic and International.  If you live in an area where unique, interesting wines are hard to get, this is a great way to get a regular supply of something new and different.

A Gift For Others, Or Yourself

Many wine clubs are available in a giftable, pre-paid fashion. Buy your parents, adult children, or your boss, a 3, 6, or 12 month pre-paid  membership, and let them enjoy your present throughout the year, as well as perhaps broaden their horizons and palate.


The 12 Days of Wine Christmas

Part 1 of the “12 Days of Wine Christmas”: Wine Road Winter Wineland, Redwood Foodbank Raffle.

Part 2: “12 Days of Wine Christmas” – Gadget Review of the VinniBag

Part 3 of “The 12 Wine Days of Christmas” – The Wine Check (no, its not money!)

Get Simple Hedonisms via Email

Your email is always secure and never distributed. (You will need to click an activation link via email to complete your subscription.)

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Wine on Instagram
Reaching over 8,000 Readers A Month!
Unique Monthly Readers (not hits), as reported by Bluehost Awstats
North Coast Tasting Rooms
Like Rhone Wines? Check out these North Coast Rhone Rangers locations. Click here to download the printable four page map.
Subscribe Via Google Reader/RSS
Follow Me on Pinterest
August 2017
« Dec    
Past Articles and Reviews
Cellar Tracker Tasting Notes - Last 50