Monday, July 25, 2011

Rabbit Aerator: The Lava Lamp of Wine Areation Devices?

Glug Glug Glug goes the Rabbit
I normally don't use aerators for facilitating the airing or opening of a wine. I prefer a decanter. Most wine aerators I've seen are messy and clumsy looking. But I was sent a Rabbit Aerating Pourer to review from International Wine Accessories and so I gave it a try.

The first thing I have to say is that it was practically impossible to get out of the display box. I'm no weakling, but  it was so insanely well enclosed in it's package, I thought only the jaws of life would be able to remove it. Once I finally got it out I needed a drink to reward myself for the effort. Oh how convenient that I had a bottle of wine at hand. Imagine that.

One thing I like about the Rabbit is it inserts right into the bottle and seals tightly so there is less mess or possibility of making a mess with this device.

As the wine is poured through the Rabbit you can hear it glug glug glugging and if you peer inside the top you can see it shooting out in tiny streams as it enters the aerating globe then cascades down the sides of the bulb and into the glass.

It's kind of like a lava lamp in how mesmerizing it is to watch the wine percolate through the device. The whole aeration process reminded me of those bubble top juice dispensers you see at deli's and food courts where juice is sprayed into a big clear bubble in some kind of merchandising madness created to make the consumer desire the beverage with a vengeance. The Rabbit replicates this look as the wine flows down the sides of the mini bubble into the glass.

Honestly, I could not tell a difference from the control glass of un-aerated wine and the Rabbit aerated glass of wine. But my husband did detect a difference, and now he is kind of obsessed with using the rabbit on everything. Like I said I prefer decanters, but my husband has convinced me I need to give the Rabbit another chance. I'm sure I will since we now can't drink anything that has not first gone down "the rabbit hole", so to speak. Soon I may need to hide the device lest he try pouring coffee, milk, or olive oil through it. I wouldn't put it past him.

It's not surprising that we had differing opinions on the Rabbit. I think there may be a gender based component to aeration perceptions in wine. Last year I tested an Eisch breathable glass and despite the unfortunate circumstances of that experiment, (read all about it here) I found the glass to be quite effective on the wine, while my husband found it did absolutely nothing.  So as usual you must try it for yourself and draw your own conclusions. But if you do get differing opinions based on gender let me know about it. Maybe I could get some grant money to research the topic. You never know stranger things have been funded for study that's for sure.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Come for the Wine and Visit the Annex

Just thought I'd take a moment and point out that you can find more content over at my posterous site--Come for the Wine Annex. See the link in the upper right hand corner?

I often use the Annex to post items live and on the fly from events since posterous makes it easy to add photos or video over the iPhone. I also use the Annex site to post fun humor pieces and things that are not always directly wine or wine travel related including short essays or short videos.

Right now you can find a little tribute to my fellow wine bloggers going to the 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference in Virgina this week called The 5 Signs You Are at a Wine Bloggers Conference.

You can also find my Annex post from the 2010 conference in Walla Walla --You Know You're at a Wine Bloggers Conference When....

So check it out next time you visit here at Come for the Wine.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Swirl, Sip & Slurp: Wine & Oyster Festival Recap

Yesterday's Wine & Oyster Festival at the Vintage Wine Estates tasting room in Healdsburg was the place to be for lovers of brine and wine. The pours were generous, the oysters sublime, and the entire tasting was a delight for the palate.

The oysters and mignonettes were prepared with specific flavor profiles to complement each wine. And once we got the clockwise vs. counterclockwise tasting order figured out we were good to go through the six oysters and five wine pairings.

My favorite mignonette, served on a Hog Island Kumamoto, was the Pink and Sassy made with beet juice that was both sweet and spicy and really brought out the flavors of the 2007 SCV Sea Fog Cuvee Blanc de Noirs.

Every pairing was well matched to the wines. But my favorite pairing of the day was the "Fresh Kiss" a Tamales Bay Miyagi with a classic rice wine mignonette and the 2010 Winsdor Sonoma Sauvignon Blanc RRV. Sensational. It hit all the right notes and compelled me to buy a bottle of the wine on the spot. That's one power pairing!

Here's a little sideshow to give you a virtual taste of the event.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Interview with Terence Carter of Grantourismo--Food and Wine Tourism Around the Globe

It’s a pandemic! It seems everyone is interviewing Lara Dunston of Grantourismo. So just to be contrary, I thought I’d interview the other part of the dynamic duo, the dark side of the equation—Mr. Terence Carter. But first, the back story...
I first met Lara and Terence at the Pousada Freixo Palace Hotel in Porto, Portugal at the end of their yearlong grand tour around the world sponsored by HomeAwayUK. We were both in Porto to speak at the Wine Pleasures wine tourism conference and tour the Minho and Douro wine regions.
I came into the lobby to inquire when we were leaving for the Minho, and Lara, to whom I had not yet been introduced--gave me the full itinerary, told me where to stow my luggage, and suggested I have a drink in the bar as I waited-- all without ever looking up from her laptop as she typed madly on the keyboard writing one of her last reports for the Grantourismo project. At the same time Terence was busy re-organizing their luggage while simultaneously up-loading and tagging photographs. Lara and Terence’s ability to multitask and work wherever they are, never wasting a moment, is mind-boggling to say the least. One might think their multiple commitments and deadlines would make them less than social travel companions, but I discovered their party ethic was equal to their gargantuan work ethic.
Q&A with Terence Carter of Grantourismo
Terence Carter--Dog Whisperer 
Terence Carter is very much the modern renaissance man of the road. In addition to his talents as photographer, designer and writer – Terence is an accomplished musician, composer, cook, filmmaker, and I’ve heard very gifted with puppets too.
Q: If you could add a talent to your repertoire what would it be?
I can’t draw or paint. Which is one reason I became a photographer and used to design and typeset books. 
Q: What's the one thing you notice that amateur photographers do that makes you cringe? What one thing could they do to most improve their pictures?
Amateur photographers always ask me about gear. That makes me cringe. Get over gear lust and focus on making good photographs is my usual advice.
Q: You make a point to learn about the local cuisines in your travels, meet local chefs, and take advantage of the market culture. If you only could use three ingredients to make Lara her favorite meal what would they be?
Too easy. Fresh oysters (from Brittany of course), champagne and sunshine.
Q. Of all the places you traveled on your grand tour, which had the most accessible wine culture? Meaning lots of wine bars or wineries in close proximity to where you were staying. Which had the least?  
Probably Jerez, Spain. Everyone in town is constantly sipping sherry. But the Tio Pepe tasting tour was rubbish. So we bought a bunch of miniatures and recreated our own sherry tasting when we arrived in Barcelona from Jerez. That upset a few people, because obviously miniatures from the Tio Pepe gift shop are not going to offer the best expression of the sherry.
Bali had the least-accessible wine culture. We did check out the local wines, but it turned out they were made from Australian grapes, that probably weren’t good enough for ‘box wines’ back in Australia. There is a reason visitors to Bali just drink Bintang beer!
Q. I think the "wine comes to you" home wine tasting you did in Budapest is a fantastic idea. Were you familiar with any of the wines of Hungary before that tasting? Were you inspired to cook any particular dishes to pair with the wines you tasted?
Lara and I were familiar with both the Bull’s Blood red and the Tokaj dessert wines – we first tasted them many years ago when we did our first wine course, which I think was called ‘wines of the world’. The big reds inspired me to make ‘Hungarian goulash’, which I found out was actually called pörkölt.

Terence with Countess Enrica Rocca - at her cooking class in Venice

Q: Everyone has a comfort food, something they turn to in times of stress or homesickness. What’s yours?
For me it’s not just the food, it’s the act of making it that helps soothes the soul. And the dish I’d be making is ragù Bolognese. The ragù is rich and homely and fills the air with delicious aromas at the different stages of cooking. The first night I’ll serve it with tagliatelli (hopefully fresh if I have a pasta machine) and the next day I’ll make lasagne with it. I did it three times on the Grantourismo trip. Sometimes making it feels like an excuse to get to snack on Parmigiano Reggiano, quaff big glasses of red wine and listen to my favourite music, but who needs an excuse? Also, if I have time to make ragù, this means that I’m not under some serious pressure to meet deadlines. This is a good thing.
Q: What's your comfort music?
My comfort music while cooking is definitely jazz. The Complete Town Hall Concert by Charles Mingus is a favourite because it’s just so chaotic, but any Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, or early Miles Davis is fine by me. If I need something more soothing, I’ll listen to Erik Satie. I’m more than a little obsessed with Trios Gnossiennes, not the more familiar suite of Gymnopédies. I love the Oriental touches of the pieces.
Q: If you had a theme song from the road what would it be? Kodachrome by Paul Simon?
Wow, I had to actually look that song up on YouTube, I’m not much of a Paul Simon fan. We actually have a theme song from the road, but not from the Grantourismo tour. It’s the opening track from the album Forever Changes by The Love called Alone Again Or. A few years ago, Lara and I were setting off on a road trip around mainland Greece from Thessaloniki and we desperately needed some music for the rental car. I picked up a whole bunch of CDs from the discount bin of a record store. We put this CD in just as we hit the highway and now when we hear the opening with the Spanish guitar and the Tijuana brass kicking in, it’s like an instant road trip.
I did actually write a piece of music on the lovely upright piano in the house we stayed at in Cape Town. I guess that will have to serve as the theme for our Grantourismo year!

Q: Who will play you and Lara in the film version of your Grantourismo adventures?
One of George Clooney’s illegitimate sons would play my role. I’m sure he has one and George is too old to play me. Lara would have to be played by an extraordinarily beautiful Russian model. (I don’t like sleeping on the couch.)
Q: In the film Goodbye Lenin! there is a scene where they are airlifting a statue of Lenin over the city by helicopter that is straight out of Fellini's La Dolce Vita and it's so spot on iconic. What iconic scene from a film illustrates or punctuates your life of travel?
The scene in Betty Blue where Betty stabs a restaurant patron with a fork. I have no idea why. I think it’s because there is something so off-kilter about our lives.

Q: You are a fairly dapper guy...If you were fashion king: What one article clothing/footwear would you forbid men to wear?
‘Wife-beaters’ (the Aussie name for singlets) with beer logos on them – particularly Asian beers. I do also have a deep dislike of flip flops and sandals.
Terence complating his tree of life
Q: And now for the poignant Barbara Walters tear jerker--If you were a tree what kind if tree would you be? But let’s change tree to a spice - If you were a spice what spice would you be. No fair answering Sporty or Posh or Scary. OR If you were a wine what wine would you be? Try not to cry as you answer.
Star anise. It changes the flavour of everything it goes into and it’s the prettiest spice of all. If I was a wine I’d be a big Aussie Shiraz and because I’m currently in Bendigo, Australia it would be a good bottle of Turners Crossing 2005 The Cut Shiraz.

Terence is a professional photographer who has shot photos for travel guides for DK, Lonely Planet, Footprint and Thomas Cook (including Top Ten Dubai and Abu Dhabi guide, Dubai Encounter, Buenos Aires Encounter, Dubai city guide, Best of Brussels Bruges Antwerp & Ghent, Milan and the Lakes, Calabria and Northern Italy) and had his photography published in an array of travel magazines including National Geographic Traveler, Lifestyle+Travel, Paperplane, and Get Lost. You can look at his photography at


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