This column was supposed to be about Lou. Lou is the very patient wife of Jeffrey Blankenship, DDS, my dentist. Lou’s not crazy about wine because she has a list of unpleasant reactions after drinking it. Using my “fail-safe” program for introducing people to wine and finding ones they can call their own, I aimed to change Lou’s relationship with my favorite ancient drink.
Luckily, my law firm, Duck, Dodge & De Lay, tells me that “fail safe” does not imply a guarantee because even after my intervention, Lou still is not a wine drinker. I provided her with six very different bottles to try and went 0 for six.
So, this column is about Dr. B, who also is a pretty patient spouse. You see, Dr. B loves wine. Over the course of the three-week experiment with Lou, he reveled in the wines being opened at the dinner table and enthusiastically filled out the questionnaires I designed for his wife. He didn’t like all the selections, but thrilled at the opportunity to explore and expand his slice of the wine world.
Lewis had his Clark; Stanley had his Livingston; But Dr. B is a lone wolf in the wine wilderness. It is hard to enjoy something like wine by yourself, but not for the reasons you might think. Lou encourages Dr. B to enjoy his wine. It really gets down to cost and waste.
Those six bottles I gave to the Blankenships? About half of the wine was thrown out. With the exception of one bottle, Lou merely took a sip or two of each to determine it was not for her. Dr. B would have a glass or two, put the cork back in and place it on the counter until the wine took its inevitable journey to vinegar and then down the drain.
“I would try more wine, Gil, but I just don’t think it’s right to waste so much,” he told me after our failed experiment. “And I don’t care to have wine every night, maybe two or three times a week.”
There are a number of solutions to this common problem.
VACUUM WINE SAVER Oxygen is the enemy of an open bottle of wine. There are a number manufacturers who make vacuum pumps that suck a fair amount of the air from the bottle through a special rubber stopper. They are available at all big box retailers, most wine shops and various locations on line, such as www.vacuvin.com and www.wineenthusiast.com. The cost? About $20. It keeps the wine for nearly a week, longer if you put it in the refrigerator.
REALLY EXPENSIVE VACUUM WINE SAVER For three to five hundred bucks, you can buy a product by Euro Cave, makers of high-end wine storage coolers. You place your opened bottle in a small cabinet, push the vacuum button and voila! The cool thing about this you can set the temperature of the cabinet, so you can pull your wine out at the desired temperature. They can be found at www.wineenthusiast.com.
NEUTRAL GAS For about $10, you can buy a can of inert gas that displaces the oxygen in the bottle. Using a thin tube that reminds me of those WD-40 cans, you spray the gas in the bottle and put the cork back in. Each can holds enough gas to preserve about 100 bottles. They can be found at many wine shops and on-line stores.
HALF BOTTLES Finding a half bottle can be a challenge, but several retailers around town carry wine in 375 ml formats. The three area Total Wine & More locations (Perimeter, Alpharetta and Kennesaw) carry a dozen or more selections, ranging from the pedestrian to some pretty nice Bordeaux. Toco Giant (2941 North Druid Hills Road) on the east side of town also has about a dozen selections. Sanders (3401 Northside Parkway) in Buckhead probably has the best selection in town in terms of numbers and quality. And in Midtown, Ansley Wine Merchants (1544 Peidmont Road) offers a smattering of halfling bottles.
Of course, you can always drink half of a regular, 750 ml bottle and pour the remainder in a clean, empty half bottle. Oxygen exposure is minimal using this method, especially if you can fill the half bottle nearly to the top. Half-sized, glass decanters with tight fitting stoppers exist, but may be hard to find.
Naturally, you’d love to have your partner exploring with you and sharing in the excitement, but life can be a hard-luck dealer sometimes. There remains, however, a joy of wine discovery even for the solitary drinker. It is just out there in smaller, more storable sips.