April 12, 2011
Did you know that not all Kosher wines are from Israel? And not all Israeli wines are Kosher! Daniel Rogov, well known for his guide to the wines of Isreal now has a fantastic little guidebook of his recommendations for Kosher wines. Just in time for passover.
Rogov's Guide to Kosher Wines $13.71
It's finally here: an authoritative guide to kosher wine from around the world. Compiled by Daniel Rogov, a leading, international wine critic, this definitive work examines the booming, international kosher wine industry for the very first time. In it, Mr. Rogov describes, sorts, and ranks more than 500 kosher wines from 14 countries, discusses what makes wine kosher, and includes a glossary of terminology. Rogov's Guide to Kosher Wines is a comprehensive, up-to-date guide to one of the most exciting and fastest growing sectors of the wine industry.
March 22, 2011
For some reason I want to call this thing the Snakes of Wrath. I don't know why. Just sort of stuck in my head. It looks remarkably like taxidermy and I suppose it might be an interesting addition to southwestern (or maybe wild western) decor. If you have a snake loving oenophile in the family, or perhaps a wine loving collector of reptilian kitsch, this just might be the perfect gift.
How far would you go to get that bottle of wine? Normally you wouldn't have to go any further than the supermarket in your neighborhood but if you freak out at the very mention of snakes then getting your hands on the bottle of wine may be a task if it's held securely in the Rattlesnake Wine Bottle Holder. The Rattlesnake Wine Bottle Holder is realistic enough to rattle your senses; it is beautifully hand painted poly resin and features amazing detail. It can hold a standard 750ml bottle of wine and is a great conversation starter on topics like fears and snakes. (Gizmodiva)
Find the Rattlesnake Bottle Holderon Amazon
Image and text via Gizmodiva
October 4, 2010
Sometimes you want to take your wine with you. But what do you do when getting to your destination means climbing a few thousand vertical feet, a bike ride through busy city streets or a paddle to an uninhabited island?
Whether it's up a ridge to your favorite picnic spot or along a beachside trail, replace that glass bottle with a lightweight, shatterproof Wine Karafe™. When you get there, make a toast knowing that the glass of wine you raise retains its true flavor.
The Wine Karafe™ was designed to hold a standard, 750ml bottle of wine and is made from high quality, 18/8, food-grade stainless steel that's totally free of BPA and other toxins. Because stainless steel itself is safe, we don't need to coat the inside of the bottle with a plastic or epoxy lining, which is one of the main differences between a stainless steel Klean Kanteen® and aluminum bottles.
Food-grade stainless steel is used in the brewing, food and winemaking industries too. It's the material of choice because it doesn't retain or impart flavors. No matter how many times you refill it, no matter what you put into it, your Klean Kanteen® will keep your drinks fresh, crisp and clean tasting.
The large mouth makes it easy to fill or pour from, and it's a cinch to clean. Just rinse it with mild soap and water and give it a quick scrub. Your Pinot Gris will never know you were drinking a Zinfandel yesterday.
Brushed Stainless $20.95 or 2 for 39.90
Image and copy via Klean Kanteen
May 27, 2010
I can't tell you how many times I've had to do the fast chill on a bottle of white and the chilling karma was just not in my favor... Soggy and drippy from the ice/water technique or worse, leaking and almost frozen, forgotten in the freezer. I've stopped buying pre-chilled wines altogether--they've often been sitting upright in the cooler for months and after struggling to remove the cemented cork, I discover that said bottle has been robbed of all its flavor. This little wet suit for wine seems to be a good solution:
Fast and fashionable wine chilling! It's a cold fact: this neoprene jacket not only chills wine in 5 minutes and keeps it cool for 3 hours, it does it in style with eye-catching colors and design! Place in freezer till non-toxic gel inside becomes icy cold, then wrap snugly around bottle with Velcro� closure. The black jacket is $14.95 and the blue is on sale for $12.95. Both ship free if you order 2 or more. (via Wine Enthusiast)
Add fun bottle of white or rose and it makes a great gift for your memorial day host/hostess. Keep one for yourself and take it to the beach or concerts in the park all summer.
February 1, 2010
This reusable vacuum wine storage set ideal for all wine lovers. It keeps open wine fresh for two weeks, and correct usage puts an end to the oxidation process. The set includes 1 sturdy plastic pump and 2 high-quality rubber stoppers. Hand washable; one-year warranty.
At Vacu Vin 3-Piece Wine Saver Pump and Stopper Gift Pack
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January 29, 2010
The Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator mixes the proper amount of air in the right amount of time for a perfect glass of wine with enhanced flavor. Easily and conveniently enhances flavor, bouquet, and finish of any wine. Made of acrylic; no-drip stand and travel pouch included so you can even take it on a picnic.
At Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
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November 30, 2009
Perfect for buying in bulk (think stocking stuffers, neighborhood service folks, etc) or the truly budget conscious:
The Wine Trials 20105 from the Latest Vintages (Fearless Critic)
The World's Bestselling Guide to Inexpensive Wines, with the 150 Winning Wines Under $15 from the Latest Vintages. 6,000 glasses of evidence that will change the way you buy wine: Hide the label...and the truth comes out. Acclaimed Fearless Critic Robin Goldstein has gone around the country serving 6,000 glasses of wine from brown paper bags to experts and everyday wine drinkers around America. Here, in print for the first time, are the shocking results, including full-page reviews of the wines that beat $50 to $150 bottles in the blind tastings.
Take the guesswork out of serving your wine at the perfect temperature. Simply slide the stainless steel wine thermometer cuff onto the center of the bottle and the temperature appears on the thermal band. A guide for suggested serving temperature for the majority of wines is printed right on the cuff for easy reference - from sparkling wine's 38 all the way to cabernet's suggested 70 degrees.
The Wine Deck: 50 Ways to Choose, Serve, and Enjoy Great Wines
Are you curious about wine, but can't tell the difference between a Pinot Noir and a Sangiovese? A Chenin Blanc and a Chardonnay? These cards describe over 40 wine varietals, including information on: Taste, Origin, Reputation, Food pairings, Key wine terms, Chilling and storing, Cooking with wine, Entertaining with wine.
Hero Bags Two Bottle Bag
Designed to carry two wine bottles safely and without clinking. A Hero Bags exclusive design. Ideal tote to bring wine to a party, give as a gift or just carry bottles safely home from the store. Glass bottles are separated by a middle seam and stand upright in individual pockets. Fits wine, champagne and spirit bottles. Hero Bags 'Two Bottle Bag' is a unique tote manufactured in the USA out of 10oz natural cotton canvas with a dark gray silkscreen bottle sketch and the words, 'Made in USA.' 12.75" width X 14" tall.
Get a Grip Wine Grip Set
These rubber grips snugly fit onto any wine glass and are designed to comfortably accommodate your hand. Plus they come in a set of four colors, bright green, electric blue, tomato red and juicy fuchsia, which will also help people remember which glass is theirs. Set of 4.
Architec Air Dry Wine Glass Drying System
Dry stemware crystal clear with the Architec air dry glass drying system. Glasses hang from soft fingers above the counter for optimum drainage and air circulation. Holds four stemware glasses, any size, any shape. Glasses dry streak and spot free. Breaks down for storage.
CIRCULAR WINE CORK TRIVET
Circular wine-cork trivet converts wine corks from special bottles into a functional conversation piece. After enjoying wine continue the fun by screwing each cork onto the sturdy eight-pronged metal frame. Serves as a unique decorative piece for the table, ready to hold hot dishes at any meal. Metal, 6 1/2 x 1/2"
Not extravagant and certainly not cheap, you can find a sleigh full of fun wine toys at this middle-of-the-road price point.
Nuance Wine Finer
In just 30 seconds you can decant a whole bottle of red wine while pouring it into the glasses. The elegant pourer filters out all sediments, pieces of cork and tartar, while a rushing sound of bubbles gives evidence of the efficient oxidizing process. The drip catcher ensures that not a drop is spilled instead the wine runs back into the bottle. A small close-fitting lid keeps any leftover wine fresh for later use. A beautiful, simple and multifunctional pourer, that completely means you never have to apologize that the wine was not uncorked before the guests arrived.
Barn Simple Press Wine Note Cards
Located in the beautiful Napa Valley, Barn Simple Press was started in 2007 as a small printing company designing fine stationery. Inspiration for the initial line of cards was taken from the vineyards that are found throughout the valley. All of the wine-related
letterpress cards are printed on 300gm cotton Somerset paper using a 1900's Heidelberg press. California artist Catherine Doyle Sullivan created the 10 illustrations.
Don't Break the Bottle - Wine Caddy Edition
This elegant, functional and enigmatic puzzle is sure to be a conversation starter at your next dinner party or wine tasting. Slide the bottle into the metal caddy's cradle, lock the puzzle device and use it as your centerpiece. Guests will love trying to solve this delicious puzzle, and once they do, use the caddy as your wine server. Includes: one metal wine caddy, one bottle cap coil, one locking device and instructions.
Winerd Wine Trivia and Blind Tasting Board Game Winerd is the perfect way to turn your passion for wine into laughter with friends. Creator Tamara Leigh Murphy paired fun wine trivia questions with an innovative spin on blind tasting to create a wine trivia board game that is a HUGE hit and has been featured on the Today Show and on the Wine Spectator Gift Guide.
Okay, we're getting a little more special--translation: a little more expensive, but not yet excessive... A few unique and thoughtful, as well as useful, gifts in this category.
World Atlas of Wine
World-renowned authors Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson once again combine their unrivalled talents to enhance this masterpiece of wine knowledge. There are 48 extra pages, including 17 new color illustrations, 20 new maps, and double page spreads and full-page photos in the atlas section for maximum visual impact. New World coverage has been extended for Australia and South America; some New World regions even have their own entries for the first time, including Rutherford, Oakville, and Stag's Leap; Mendoza; Limestone Coast ; Central Otago and Martinborough; and Constantia. And Old World coverage has grown too, with the addition of Toro, the Peleponnese, and Georgia. It's a truly incomparable book, and an essential addition to every wine lover's or professional's library.
Casual Cookout Video/Recipe/Wine Set
Looking for new ideas for a casual cookout or a unique gift? Watch the Grilling and Sipping video included to learn how to make/apply our exclusive Argentinean-inspired rub to spice up your steak and which Argentinean Malbec we've hand selected to tango with it! You'll also find unique ways to grill shrimp and fruit and more. Add a flare to your cookout with these wines that are a perfect dance partner with each recipe. Includes Tamari Malbec, Two Hands Wines Brilliant Disguise, Olvena Chardonnay, and Grilling & Wine Pairing Recipe Booklet & DVD.
Wine Barrel Stave Server
The perfect complement to a wine and cheese party, this handsome serving tray is handmade from a retired French Oak or American Oak wine barrel stave.
Features the original bung hole (used to empty or fill the cask) and includes a metal stand. Handmade in Texas. Each is one-of-a-kind and will vary.
And last, but definitely not least, the gift that fits all budgets and all wine personalities? A wine tasting--or tasting package--from the NEWLY LAUNCHED, Cheap Fun Wine Tastings. CFWT offers online tastings via Skype starting at $25. Tasting themes include How to taste - Wine 101, Old World Classics, New World Winners, and more. Book a tasting for your holiday fete, your next neighborhood wine & cheese shindig or your soup-to-nuts wine dinner. We'll help you with all of the pairings and with each tasting you'll receive comprehensive notes on your chosen theme.
August 14, 2009
This isn't really swanky enough for Swanky Wine Friday, but I thought I'd sneak it in as a practical indulgence...we are in a recession after all so anything non-essential can be qualified as a luxury (wines under a certain price point are essential--for your health and general well being of course).
Anyway, this is a great way to chill and serve whites. You don't have to run back and forth to the fridge with a sweaty bottle, or deal with a drippy ice bucket. If you like to entertain and are never quite comfortable with your messy options for presenting whites, this may be the solution. The lead free crystal carafe holds 26 ounces of wine and it conveniently, and attractively, masks the super cheapo whites we all tend to serve at summer parties.
$39.95 on Amazon. Check it out:
Wine Enthusiast Chilling Carafe with Ice Sleeve
April 16, 2009
This might be the perfect gift for me... if I ever dared to purchase a houseplant again. I can't say that I have a black thumb because I've never really put forth the required effort to keep a plant alive. There is a reason I live in the desert... and my yard is filled with desert plants. Anyhoo, this nifty little terra cotta spike--along with your empty merlot bottle from last night's dinner--will keep your precious houseplants happy as long as you periodically remember to refill the bottle. Check it out:
Wine Bottle Plant Nanny Stakes
The Plant Nanny is a specially-engineered ceramic stake that waters your plant easily and beneficially. Inserted into moist soil near the root base, the Nanny will release water as the soil begins to dry, so it won't under-water or over-water your plants. A recycled wine bottle serves as the water reservoir and adds a decorative flair to the plant. The water level can be seen through the glass so that you know when it is time to refill the bottle. Each set of four is attractively label-wrapped for gift-giving. $45.95 for 3 packs of 4 stakes (via Amazon)
March 20, 2009
If you are in the market for a wine fridge, now just might be the time to buy. If you're a bargain hunter and and don't mind a slightly imperfect model (we've all shopped at TJ Maxx, right?) then check out the Scratch 'n Dent sale at Wine Enthusiast. You can peruse the outlet options via the link below--prices range from $329 to $4495--then call the 800-number and mention the code for scratch 'n dent savings:
What are Scratch 'n' Dent Cellars?
Scratch 'n' Dent Wine Cellars are like-new units that may have some cosmetic flaws but are guaranteed to work perfectly and include the full manufacturer's warranty. Prior to purchase, we'll provide you with a concise description of the cellar's blemishes.
Call a Wine Storage Consultant today and find out about additional savings on Scratch 'n' Dent cellars. Mention code E0309C. 800.377.3330
Via Wine Enthusiast
November 30, 2008
Forget about parking... and don't bother standing in line at the mall. I think we've found a little something for everyone on your list.
FOR THE PINOT-PHILE
The Boys Up North
The Boys Up North: Dick Erath and the early Oregon winemakers. Paul Pintarch's stories let you meet and enjoy a cast of characters who have made Oregon and American wine life more flavorful and a lot more fun. Even better, most of these "heroes of Pinot" are still alive and breaking new ground as you read. $15 (via Wine.com)
FOR THE GAME-NIGHT HOST
Pop the cork off any gathering with WINEOPOLY! Players buy favorite wines, collect bunches of grapes and trade them in for decanters. Sounds easy enough but add Import Taxes and serving faux pas and it becomes a little more difficult and a lot more fun! Each deed back contains wine descriptors and fun facts about each wine. It's all fun and games until you're sent to the Wine Cellar to age-then you're out of the game for three turns. So choose your token (wine bottle, cork, wine glass, cheese, grapes, or a carafe) and advance to CHEERS! Who knows? You may be elected president of the wine club or you may be penalized for serving obtrusively malodorous cheese! $25 (via Wine.com)
FOR AVID PICNICKERS
Picnic Gift Del Mar Two Person Wine & Cheese Tote
A gift for all your wine and cheese lovers to enjoy! The insulated compartment will keep cheese cold or bagels warm. Complete with cutting board and cheese knife. The handle or detachable shoulder strap makes this small lightweight tote perfect for the day hiker or the sunset watcher. Contents: 1 Deluxe Bottle Stopper. 1 Stainless Steel Corkscrew. 1 Cheese Knife. 1 Wooden Cutting Board. 2 Acrylic Wine Glasses. 2 Napkins. $32 (via Amazon)
FOR PORT LOVERS
Warres Otima Port & 8-Piece Godiva Chocolates
Is there a better combination than tawny Port and chocolate? From the renowned Port house Warres, Otima is a 10 year tawny Port made in a lighter, more contemporary style. Beautifully packaged and incredible when paired with Godiva's 8-piece ballotin of assorted creamy milk, white and dark chocolates. $40 (via Wine.com)
FOR ANYONE WHO NEEDS A LITTLE EXTRA PAMPERING
Bamboo Bath Caddy by Umbra
Turn your bath into a spa! Rest the extendable handles of this spa-style wine bath caddy by Umbra on the rims of your tub. Slide the base of your wine-filled glass in the stem slot. Prop your favorite read on the book/magazine rest. Then relax! Features a spot for a small dish or glass and notches to hang bath accessories. A perfect fit for standard-size tubs. Expands up to 38" for larger tubs. Made by Umbra of water-resistant, renewable bamboo. $40 (via Amazon)
FOR THE NOVICE OENOPHILE
Wine Essence Kit
Learn how to taste wine while you are guided through its mysteries and pleasures. The kit is based upon international studies that have identified nine principal components of wine. The principal "essences" --along with their level of concentration and intensity--are what ultimately determine a wine's flavor and character. The kit includes these nine essences--sweet, bitter, sour, smooth, acetic, flowery, fruity, oak and tannin--individually bottled and carefully prepared so that the suggested dilution corresponds to their concentration in wine. The more you use the kit, the better you'll be able to identify the separate tastes in wine and understand the countless ways in which they can be blended. Kit also includes, a detailed instruction booklet, all necessary labels and a wine tasting glass. $40 (via Wine Enthusiast)
FOR YOUR BOOKISH BUDDIES
3 Bottle Wine Rack Bookend
One of your passions (books) supported by another (wine)--it only makes sense! Three wine bottles on each wrought iron bookend provide enough weight to prevent sliding, and more than enough style to enhance your shelves. Will fit standard Bordeaux 750mL size bottles. Size 10"H x 10"W x 5-1/2"D. $40 (via Wine Enthusiast)
FOR THE GADGET GURU
Picnic Time Wine Accessories Boxed Set
Eight-piece wooden box set includes lever-style cork-pull, two bottle stoppers, drip ring, foil cutter, pourer/stopper, thermometer, and extra cork-pull. $40 (via Amazon)
FOR THE SKI BUFF
RECYCLED SKI WINE RACK
You don't have to be a wine connoisseur or an expert skier to appreciate this innovative way to display your favorite vino. The bottles are stored on their sides to properly maintain the wine's integrity, while the original materials (recycled skis) adds a touch of fun and excitement. Made in Millbury, MA. $50 (via Uncommon Goods)
FOR THE WORLD TRAVELER
Spanish Paella & Wine Gift Set
The heart and soul of Spanish cuisine is fragrant paella. Our gift set starts you off with the essentials: a traditional steel paella pan, imported saffron (the world's most expensive spice), pimenton (a smoky paprika) and paella rice which naturally absorbs all of these wonderful spices. Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva, from Spain's most prestigious wine region, delivers complex, spicy flavors that complement the exceptional flavors of Spanish paella. Add a special touch by serving your paella on the festive tapas plates. $70 (via Wine.com)
FOR THE HOME CHEF
Dining Delights Deluxe
We've cooked up the ideal bonus pack with a delicious assortment of wines from Chile, Australia, California, and Italy along with an award-winning, beautifully illustrated cookbook. If cooking and entertaining are on your list - you'll love getting six wines and the 'I Love to Cook' book all at once. The wines won't last long, but the recipes will make life easy and delicious for a long time to come. The book alone sells for $35 so you are getting a tremendous value. Perfect for any epicure on your gift list too! $100 (via MyWinesDirect)
FOR THE HOSTESS WITH THE MOSTEST (OR THE FRIEND WHO HAS EVERYTHING)
WineDown Accessories RoJaus Grapevine Decanter
The RoJaus Grapevine decanter from WineDown Accessories is the first and probably only touchless decanter on the market. The artistic form is a conversation piece in itself, but the graceful way the decanter aerates, chills and dispenses wine is phenominal. As wine is poured over the wine bubble, the flavors and aromas are released. Sediment and cork particles are trapped in a stainless steel filter allowing only perfectly aerated wine to be dispensed into your favorite stem. Information about customizing the decanter is included with your purchase. $180 (via Amazon)
November 25, 2008
With the holiday season upon us, it is time to start thinking about gift giving... NO, I don't mean Christmas gifts--not quite yet, anyway-- I'm talking about the more personal variety that you need all year long... but with frightening frequency during the holiday shuffle: the hostess gift. Be the beacon of fine manners and proper etiquette that your mother taught you to be and show your appreciation with wine and accessories. We know times are tight so we're offering some great ideas for less than $20.
WINELINES: The Wine Party Glass Tags$10
Can't find your chianti? Misplaced your merlot? Don't fret. Wine Lines are here to save the soiree! Wine Lines are soft, flexible, stretchable, washable synthetic rubber. Easy to slip onto a wineglass, and unobtrusive once in place. Twelve different color tags make for a perfect party pack. Each tag has a comment that is great fun to break the ice. Which one will you claim as your own? overpriced, complex, immature, rich, formidable, earthy, supple, opulent, ripe, volatile, sturdy and vintage. (via Amazon)
WINE CORK PLACE CARD HOLDERS- SET OF 8 $12
Put a cork in seating arrangement chaos with these clever wine cork place card holders. Looking every bit like the real thing, the resin corks feature a discreet card slot and a flat base to stay put long after the last bottle of wine is finished. The set of eight pieces makes the perfect gift for wine enthusiasts and harried hostesses.(via Uncommon Goods)
SONOMA COUNTY WINEGRAPE CHOCOLATES $15
16 Premium chocolate Truffles infused with wine grapes from Sonoma County's finest grape growing regions. Includes 4 of each: Russian River Pinot Noir Truffle, Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Truffle, Knights Valley Merlot Truffle and Chalk Hill Chardonnay Truffle. (available via the link above or at your local Cost Plus World Market)
THE WINE TASTING AND PARTY KIT: Everything You Need to Host a Fun & Easy Wine Tasting Party at Home $17
Whether it's a casual afternoon in the backyard or a more formal soiree, a wine tasting party is fun and educational for everyone from novices to sophisticated sippers. Within this all-inclusive kit are the elements to be a terrific host, including cloth wine bottle covers, tasting score pads, a cheat sheet, glass markers, and an entertaining book that introduces you to the ins and outs of tasting wine in a comfortable, festive, social setting your own home. (via Amazon)
WINE SMARTS $17
Do you know the difference between a Barbera and a Burgundy? Would you like to read wine lists with more confidence? Welcome to Wine Smarts - the thinking person's drink game. Designed as both a stand alone game and a stylish coffee table accessory, our Wine Smarts game comes complete with 100 Wine Smarts question and answer cards with interesting and useful wine facts to expand your wine knowlege, a 12-page wine tips guide (including wine tasting techniques, how to throw wine tasting parties, and more), and a score pad. Makes a great gift for a beginner or a wine connoisseur alike! (via Amazon)
MULLING SPICES (set of 2) $18
Over the centuries wassail, a warm mulled drink consisting of ale, cider, wine or fruit juice flavored with citrus and spices, has been enjoyed at the onset of Winter. The word comes from an old Norwegian toast, "Ves heill!" meaning "Be in good health!" Simmer this beautifully balanced mixture of cinnamon, orange zest, clove and allspice with cider or red wine for an old-fashioned flavor and heady aroma that personifies the spirit of the holidays. 6 oz., packed in an airtight tin. (via Williams-Sonoma)
You'll be ready for any party with one of these great gifts... and a bottle of good (cheap) wine of course.
October 31, 2008
With the holiday season fast approaching, 'tis the season of merry making and convivial gathering. Here are two stunning leather carriers from QOOQ to make even your cheapest wine picks look like something special.
The Litron pictured above earns the official swanky title because it comes in over the $20 range. But not by much... for about $32 you have a lovely gift that your hosts can actually use for years to come. They won't even notice the 2-buck Chuck inside.
And the Ursula bag you'll want for your own trips to the market, but it is so cheap you'll be buying one for all of your friends. It is constructed of the same fine leather as the Litron, but cut in concentric circles so that it collapses into a flat disc for storage. $12 -$15
via QOOQ Edition
September 19, 2008
If there is one thing that still stresses me out about buying wine, it is that great unknown: Has my bottle been cooked en route? Finally, the winemakers are covering their tushies and finding new ways to let you know if your wine experienced sub-optimal temps during its long journey to you. Check out this bit, courtesy of Gizmodo:
You may have paid $100 for that fancy Cab, but little did you know, its tannins have been seared crispy like hashbrowns in a semi left to sit in the sun. So just for you, dear learned consumer, wine makers are fighting back with a new digital thermometer that can tell buyers whether or not the bottle fell outside its ideal temperature after shipping from the vineyard.
The size of a sugar packet and sitting on the bottle's neck, if everything was OK, an embedded light (LED, we're sure) blinks green. If things went wrong, it'll blink yellow. The system even records the temperature for downloading to a computer spreadsheet by suppliers.
The catch is that these thermometers run about $1.60 apiece. Obviously intended for better wines, it's still tough to swallow that all that many vineyards will adopt the technology in an era when traditional corks are dying to cheaper screw tops and rubber stoppers. But hey, who are we to question progress? [AP] By Mark Wilson