Top 10 Essentials For A Wine-Happy Summer (+ Memorial Day), The California Edition
|Diaper-Ready Jet Bags|
4. The Wine Finer:
Much as we tend to take an Elizabeth David cringe-worthy attitude towards too many kitchen accessories, we admit we have become rather infatuated with our Vinturi wine aerator recently. If only it weren't so bulky and dripping with wine each time we use it (you pour the wine through the aerator into your glass). Not a good idea on your the heirloom family picnic quilt. Enter the Wine Finer, a $30 beautifully designed, mess-free version from a Danish designer that we got on a recent trip to Texas at Ellerbe, a fantastic little restaurant in a former gas station owned by a former sous chef at Lucques in West Hollywood (L.A. follows us everywhere. Everywhere).
You stick the Wine Finer in the bottle's neck and never have to take it. And as far as we can tell from our experiments, it works just as well on the aeration level as the Vinturi but without the mess. And it's picnic portable. Sure, we probably don't need another, or even one, wine aerator. Then again, we really don't need another pair of flip-flops, either.
3. Big House's Big Box Wines:
That environmentally-friendly angle has been bringing back the bagged and boxed wines as of late (good ones), but perhaps the most outdoor party-friendly packaging of the bunch is Big House Wines because of its big box packaging (you can also buy the wine in bottles). The Unchained Chardonnay in particular is a steal for the quality in the 3 liter (4 bottles) box for $22. Yes, $22 (a single 750 ml glass bottle of the same wine is $10). This is a bright and refreshingly oak-free wine that is actually good enough for a casual picnic or lazy day a the beach -- definitely not your average wine in a box.
2. The Jet Bag:
The Jet Bag is a diaper material-lined (yes, really) plastic zip-top baggie for checked baggage wine transport - why didn't we think of that? And they're re-usable ($15 for 3 bags; available online), or at least until a bottle breaks. The same company formerly launched the bags under the name "The Wine Diaper" but says they changed the name as the product has improved (and we suspect the former name wasn't all that appealing when you're dealing with a prized $100 bottle of wine). We tested out that no-leakage promise with a bottle of wine filled with water, and it worked - all 750 ml were absorbed. Think beyond wine: There are always olive oils, freshly made jams and Presidential vegetable relishes to bring back from your summer trips.
1. Govino Picnic Glasses:
Govino still makes our favorite summer picnic wine glasses (no more Solo cups -- please!). Each plastic wine-shaped glass has a clever dent for your thumb (it also is a marker for a 6-ounce pour) and no stem, so it is grass-stable. The company has a new plastic sparkling wine flute that we haven't tried but looks pretty great. One word of caution: The glasses really do melt in the dishwasher. Trust us. But hey, if that happens, you can just buy another set for a couple of dollars from the Hollywood Bowl store. You know, support the LA Phil by raising a glass. Heaven knows they're not making any money on those $1 Dudamel tickets this summer.