Unique wine gifts for the holidays

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Keep it fresh: Two useful gifts for wine lovers are the Cravin Wine Access System that allows you to pour wine without removing the cork, and the AntiOx system which help preserve the life of an open bottle of wine for up to two weeks. | Photo by W. Peter Hoyne

Two novel items came to market this year that will extend your enjoyment of wines through the holidays and well into the new year. These may be the perfect stocking stuffers for the serious wine lover.

How often have you opened a slightly more expensive bottle of wine realizing that you must finish it that evening? You can always tell that it tastes and smells vastly different the following day. Excessive oxidation has always been the enemy of wine, causing it to discolor, developing odd acetic and raisiny aromas and tastes while spoiling your prolonged enjoyment of the wine. The Coravin Wine Access System is an ingenious device that allows you to pour as much wine from the bottle as you like without removing the cork. What’s best is that the remaining wine that is left behind in the bottle remains in a suspended state of animation, as though the bottle was never opened. In fact that’s why it is labeled as a wine access system, rather than a wine preservation device. This is the invention of Greg Lambrecht who has his own venture-backed medical device company and holds a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from MIT.

The Coravin works by inserting a fine Teflon-coated needle directly through the capsule and cork. An inert gas is gently dispensed into the bottle allowing you to dispense the amount of wine you need while replacing the void in the bottle with Argon. What’s interesting is that Argon is an inert gas that occurs naturally in the atmosphere. Winemakers use it to prevent unwanted oxidation in their tanks by using the gas to blanket the wine and prevent spoilage. It can be great fun to pour a taste of some of your favorite wines from the bottle while knowing that you can go back to them days, months or even years later. The early results are promising and this can certainly pass the test as an alternative to opening a bottle and then realizing that it is gone forever.

Although it is not inexpensive at $299.00, it can certainly fit the bill as a distinguished gift for someone special during this holiday season. Information can be found on the website at Coravin.com.

Another clever option is the AntiOx system, which is meant as a short-term cure for oxidation of newly opened or partially consumed bottles. It can preserve the life of an open bottle for as much as 10-14 days. There is a carbon filter built in to the top of this cap closure, which prevents the wine from oxidizing by absorbing acetic acid aromas. Instead of inserting the cork or a rubber stopper back in to the bottle you just place the AntiOx over the top. No vacuuming or other exercise is needed. Simple and yet a bit mysterious.

I have used this device as well and can testify to its satisfying results. This product has just been released to the US market after being used in Italy and Spain. The suggested retail of this item is $29.99 and it can be found at premieritalianwines.com.

W. Peter Hoyne has been a wine journalist for over 20 years, covering stories of national and international significance. While his professional relationships in the wine industry have allowed him to share a unique perspective of wine, he is also intrigued by the culinary aspect and harmony that exist between wine and food. As a wine advocate, he is committed to consumer education and is focused on upcoming trends and American wine-buying habits. Email him at wphoyne@att.net.