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Everyone who loves wine has a similar problem when it comes to cracking open an expensive bottle: there’s no way to reseal it properly when you’ve had your fill. Wine spoils, and when it’s not consumed fast enough, valuable nectar is wasted that could otherwise be enjoyed if there was an alternative.
"The company has created a tool that is becoming essential for all wine drinkers." Attempting to re-cork a bottle is annoying; oftentimes the cork gets broken, and it's nearly impossible to get it back in the bottle properly. You could always buy one of those mechanisms that pumps all the air out of the wine bottle, but this too can get tiring, and oftentimes a single crack in the rubber cork stoppers will leak all the air out of the wine bottles and result in stale wine — now you’ve pumped all that air out for no reason!
But Coravin has a solution. The company has created a tool that is becoming essential for all wine drinkers. It is a new wine access technology and portable product that allows users to pour wine from any bottle, at any time, without ever pulling the cork. That’s right — you literally never pull the cork out of the bottle. Apparently, the only thing that occurs during this magic process is that a needle pierces the cork and enters the bottle, allowing you to pour out a single glass. There’s no need to remove the foil or the cork.
But you don’t just shove a needle in the bottle and pour, that would be asinine. Coravin has created a foolproof product that actually uses argon gas to pressurize the bottle and force the wine to flow through the needle and into your glass. Once the needle is removed, the cork reseals itself due to the pressure in the bottleneck. Coravin’s website explains that the wine that stays in the bottle never actually comes in contact with air.
So what’s the big idea? Well, there are a lot of ideas, actually. Coravin’s product is ideal for the occasional drinker who can’t plow through a bottle of wine in one sitting. But it’s also ideal for the expensive wine connoisseur who is dying to try that $500 bottle they bought in France but is too afraid to down it all in one sitting. According to the company, the product has been thoroughly tested by Coravin’s founder, Greg Lambrecht, who bought half a case of wine and over the course of five years tested the product and the size of the needle until he could safely say that Coravin worked.
The product seems easy to use and we definitely have a few bottles of wine we’re eager to let rest but still want to get a taste of in the meantime. Who says you have to wait years for a single bottle to age? Coravin has invented a product that can enhance the entire wine-tasting experience by trying a single bottle throughout many years without ever having to open it. The possibilities are now endless in the tasting world…
The 9 Best Corkscrews of 2021, According to Experts
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A decent corkscrew is vital when opening a bottle of wine. Without one, you run the risk of a cork crumbling, a bottle breaking, or, worst of all, not drinking the wine. We turned to a host of sommeliers and wine experts to recommend their tried-and-true corkscrews. From waiter's corkscrews to lever corkscrews, here are the best ones to consider adding to your home bar.
If you're not thinking about how to improve your gut health, now's a good time to start. The more research conducted about the gut and its effect on overall health, the more important it becomes.
Having a diverse microbiome seems to be vital for the prevention and treatment of conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, cancer and autoimmune conditions, according to a February 2019 review of the last 10 years of microbiome research, published in the journal Microbiome.
It turns out, red wine may contribute to increased gut diversity, according to an August 2019 study published in Gastroenterology. The researchers studied twins and observed that those who drank red wine, even once every couple of weeks, had greater microbiota diversity than those who didn't drink red wine. It's worth noting that white wine showed a lesser (yet still positive) effect but the researchers didn't find the same association with beer or spirits.
While this study doesn't prove that the polyphenols in red wine can directly increase your gut diversity, it just might give you an edge on diversifying your gut portfolio.
How to Chill Wine
Advance Planning. This rule applies to most everything in life. Stick reds and whites in the fridge and remove them an hour or two before dinner. The ideal temperature for a fridge is between 35°F and 40°F. If you’ve got cold spots that always freeze your lettuce, at least they’ll chill your wine a bit faster. Chilling bottles in the door won’t make a difference as far as time, but if you open it frequently, stick bottles further back on a shelf or in the crisper bins.
The Freezer. We’ve all done it. Loaded bottles into the icemaker as friends grew ambitious with their consumption, only to forget them and find an icy explosion the next morning. While quality may not diminish at such extreme temperatures, the risk of a mess rises. When the water in wine freezes, it expands and can push the cork out in part or full, or even crack the bottle. This allows the egress of oxygen, which starts the clock on oxidation. If you use the freezer, set a timer for 30 minutes.
The Best Way to Chill Wine Quickly. Slip the bottle into an icy salt bath. No, don’t nab grandma’s Epsom salts. The table version will do. Grab a bucket or container, and add salt, water and ice. Ice absorbs heat from the water, which brings the temperature down. The salt brings the freezing point of water below 32˚F. Translation: brined ice water can chill rosé in 15 minutes or less.
Other Chilling Methods. If you’re on the go, carry an insulated tote that holds 2–4 bottles. For singles, a sleeve kept in the freezer will chill a 750 ml bottle. At home, pour a glass of wine and put it in the fridge. It takes less time to chill than an entire bottle, due to its smaller mass.
Reusable ice cubes are also great to chill a single glass, but once they warm up, you’ll have to freeze them again. Of course, you can also keep enough in the freezer for multiple glasses.
What Not to Do. Unlike a thick frosty mug, a chilled stem glass doesn’t have enough mass or surface area to bring down the temperature of your wine. While ice cubes do chill, they also dilute the taste, which is fine if you’re looking for a spritzer-like experience. Finally, the internet will suggest that you pour wine into a resealable plastic bag and drop it into ice water. It will reach 50°F in about 2 minutes, but we’re getting a bit desperate now, no?
Should all old wines be decanted? Do older wines need more time to decant?
Contrary to popular belief, decanting older wines is far from an ironclad rule. Burgundy, for example, is known for its delicacy and the question of whether or not to decant is often hotly debated between experts. However, older vintages of Nebbiolo-based wines, like Barolo and Barbaresco, along with Rioja and other full-bodied wines, are generally strong candidates for decanting.
If the initial taste of a wine is promising, decanting may not be necessary. Carefully pour the wine directly from the bottle into the glass. If you do choose to decant, use a carafe with a narrow base that offers less opportunity for air to integrate and alter the wine further.
One common belief is that the older a wine is, the longer it can take to open up. But Mannie Berk posits something a little more specific.
“Wines that are subjected to a lot of oxygen before they’re bottled tend to respond well to oxygen once the bottle is opened,” says Berk.
For Madeira, decant a minimum of one day for every decade of bottle age.
Those Barolos, Barbarescos and Riojas that respond well to decanting? For the most part, they’re vinified in a way that involves heavier exposure to oxygen.
The most extreme example Berk offers is Madeira, a wine that sees both oxygen and heat in production, and is famously said to last indefinitely after the bottle is opened.
“If Madeira’s been in bottle for a long time, you want to decant it possibly for a few days to a few weeks before you drink it, because it needs to go from being in an oxygen deprived environment to one where it’s back to enjoying oxygen…that’s what it really likes,” he says.
Berk’s rule for Madeira? Decant a minimum of one day for every decade of bottle age.
How much is too much when it comes to decanting? / Getty
Expert Guide To Opening An Older Bottle Of Wine
There’s a moment that comes along early in every sommelier’s career that I like to call the Old Bottle Test. It’s that first time you’re handed a wine that may be twice your age or older. How will you perform under the pressure of cracking its seal neatly – making sure not one drop of the precious liquid will be wasted under a crumbling cascade of cork remnants? If you’re opening it tableside, how will you keep your professional cool? How can you make it look as though you’re as unfazed by the challenge of a 1947 Cheval Blanc as you are by last year’s rosé? Luckily, there are some helpful tools we can keep in our proverbial fanny packs and a few simple guidelines for stress-free service. Once you’ve seen what the bottle is, asking yourself the following questions should help you determine how to proceed.
How old is it?
If a bottle of wine has been properly stored (i.e. in a cool, dark, humid place), at twenty years of age, it should be no problem to open with your regular wine key. If you know the bottle’s storage history and feel comfortable digging right in, then (gently) go for it! If the bottle has been brought by someone as corkage, and you’re opening it at the guest’s request, ask if they’ve brought it from their cellar. Hope that the cork isn’t dried out from heat, fused to the neck of the bottle, or disturbed by aggressive handling. As a fail-safe, use one of the other tools mentioned below to remove the cork intact. If the wine is significantly older than twenty years, you should probably use one of them anyway. Even if the ah-so pushes the cork into the bottle rather than gripping it from the sides to retrieve it, one full-fledged cork bobbing in the wine beats the heck out of the thousands of tiny cork particles that could wind up in there if your wine key’s worm rips it to shreds.
Has the bottle been standing up or lying down?
Old bottles more often than not throw sediment. “Throwing sediment” refers to the natural precipitation of the tannin-anthocyanin complexes that contribute to a red wine’s color and structure. Over time, some may grow too large or heavy to stay in solution, so they will fall to the bottom of the bottle. Not only is it completely normal and in no way affects the wine’s quality, it is a sign that the wine has been aging gracefully and wasn’t overly or harshly processed prior to bottling. But what’s unpleasant is getting a mouthful of the gritty stuff, which is what will happen if you shake or move the bottle, thereby redistributing the solids. If the bottle has been lying horizontally in a cellar, and you know far enough in advance when you’re going to open it, it’s typically a good idea to stand it upright to allow the sediment that had collected on the side to settle to the bottom to allow for ease of decanting or pouring. Just be careful as you approach the end of the wine. The murkier part – the “dregs” – can either be left and discarded or filtered through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth (see below) to obtain every last drop of drinkable wine. If the wine has been lying horizontally up until the moment of opening, a wine cradle is a handy holder that will allow you to open and pour from the bottle as close to its original position as possible, without disturbing the blanket of sediment.
36 Gifts and Gadgets For Anyone Who Loves Drinks
Is decanting an option?
Decanting a bottle is a great way to separate a wine from the aforementioned sediment. Simply stop transferring the liquid into the decanter once you see the dregs nearing the neck of the bottle. Most folks hold a candle underneath the neck to allow a clearer view of the solids. If you’re at home and aesthetics don’t play a role, your iPhone’s flashlight works pretty well. Bordeaux blends, Syrah, and anything hearty can typically withstand a decant. But I’d think twice about decanting 50 year-old Burgundy. Although helpful at removing sediment, decanting also exposes the wine to air. That may be a good thing for a young wine described as “tight”. It’s almost like a fast-forward button, getting your wine to a more enjoyable place quicker. But for a wine of an already delicate nature, you may lose some of its prettiest moments in that exposure.
Do I have the right tools?
To be prepared for any bottle that comes your way, it’s a good idea to have an ah-so at the ready. An ah-so is that two-pronged cork extraction device that looks like almost like a large set of tweezers with a handle on top. It’s the tool of choice for older corks that may break apart if penetrated by a wine key. A simple search on YouTube will pull up many a tutorial on how to use the ah-so, but the concept is simple: insert the prongs between the cork and the neck of the bottle, longer prong first, and gently wiggle or rock the device back and forth until it is far enough down to fully grip the cork. Twist and pull on the way up to remove. Although the ah-so has a high success rate for older bottles, there will always be stubborn corks that break or seem to disintegrate on contact. A relative newcomer to the cork-removal scene – the Durand – has somehow managed to take all of the risk out of uncorking. It’s basically a combo twist & pull corkscrew plus ah-so that allows you to stabilize the cork while working the ah-so blades down the sides. No more pushing the cork in! And if you want the full arsenal, add to the list port tongs and either a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. The benefit of port tongs is that they remove the full section of the bottleneck that encases the cork, but they require a full set-up, including a flame to bring the tongs to red-hot. They certainly make for a good show but are in no way practical for everyday use. Finally, the strainer or cheesecloth will take the headache out of opening a bottle that has had the sediment disturbed, acting as an à la minute filtration system during decanting.
The NBA's Secret Wine Society
A version of this story appears in GOLD RUSH: powered by espnW, a special collaboration with ESPN The Magazine for its Feb. 19 issue. Subscribe!
The river of black shuttle buses negotiates sharp switchbacks, bouncing upward along miles of uneven pavement that fades into dirt, from two lanes to one, climbing beneath oak forest that blocks out the morning light. Cellphone service dwindles to nothing. Finally, a metal gate appears, a large "M" at its center, and soon the Cleveland Cavaliers pour out of the buses. About 60 members of the franchise gather near tables covered in white cloth, sitting atop cedar bark spread across a small clearing. They clink flutes of 2006 Dom Pérignon in toast. Nearby, all around the property, lies charred earth. Burned hillsides, stippled with the black skeletons of trees, loom ominous.
This is Mayacamas, one of Napa Valley's most iconic wineries. Not many of the Cavs have been here, but LeBron James has, and he recognizes that the area where he's standing now, the small clearing, once belonged to a building that is no more.
The fire, when it came, had raced in from the west, feeding on dry underbrush, roaring over the hills. Winds swept it along the edges of and into Mayacamas' vineyards, the intense heat threatening dormant vines harvested not long before. Workers evacuated as flames neared the winery, not knowing what -- if anything -- would survive. When staffers returned weeks later, they saw how the flames had crept to the edge of the three main buildings, licked up their sides, leaving deep black scars near the foundation. Millions in damage was caused, though the true toll will be tallied when it becomes clear which vines can still bud in the spring. But somehow the fire had devoured only one of the buildings, a 5,000-square-foot, two-story Italian villa-style structure used for hospitality and dining.
"It's a miracle," says Mayacamas assistant winemaker Braiden Albrecht.
Mayacamas hadn't hosted any groups since that October blaze. No groups, that is, until today, a clear, brisk late-December Thursday -- two days before James' 33rd birthday -- when the Cavaliers arrive for a midseason two-day Napa getaway.
At Mayacamas, organizers had rushed to prepare for the Cavaliers, hauling away burned rubble in huge bins. Now, after the champagne toast, players gather beside fermentation tanks before moving next door to a spacious living room, where glasses of 2015 chardonnay and 2013 cabernet dot a heavy wooden table. They playfully sneak more glasses of wine. James tries to tempt rookie forward Cedi Osman, who, along with some of the other rookies, isn't into wine just yet. "Drink me . " James says, holding the glass near Osman, but Osman declines. "Their loss," James would say later. "More for me."
Mayacamas winemaker Andy Erickson introduces the chardonnay by describing how proud he is that it's not a typical Napa Valley chardonnay, not over-the-top with buttery-tasting notes. The players sip and are asked for their thoughts. Guard J.R. Smith, sitting on a couch against a back wall, raises his hand. What comes to mind as he sips the wine?
"It's like butter," Smith says, smiling. Laughter erupts from all over. Classic J.R.
Eventually, the players head below to the cellar, where 1,200-gallon oak barrels line stone walls built before Prohibition. Glasses of 2003 cabernet await. The Cavaliers are staying for just an hour and a half, but throughout, as winemakers explain the step-by-step process of how wine comes to be, players lob a stream of questions -- about wines produced on mountains versus those in the valley, what practices are best to maintain a healthy cellar, how long to age certain wines, how to keep fermentation tanks clean, why some wines are $15, some $1,500.
No one asks these questions, Carissa Mondavi, a fourth-generation vintner from Continuum Estate and granddaughter of California wine pioneer Robert Mondavi, thinks to herself. The vintners love curiosity, when visitors probe deeper than others. But this feels like something more.
And here, Mondavi sees a corollary: NBA players are the product of so many unseen hours spent perfecting so many hidden details, all leading to the moment when the ball is tossed in the air. So too is wine crafted against countless variables -- the weather, soil, harvest, tanks, the barrels and blends, the delicate alchemy of it all -- until, one day, the cork is pulled. For both to shine, it takes so much work no one will ever see.
The NBA's oenophilia is taking root -- from post-banana boat yacht parties to team-sanctioned vineyard visits. Courtesy Dwyane Wade
TIMBERWOLVES GUARD JIMMY Butler travels with a wine case, one he toted to the 2016 Rio Olympics, bringing along bottles of pinot noir. Warriors point guard Stephen Curry, a fan of Bordeaux, makes the hour trek to Napa to unwind, though he wishes he'd started doing so nine years ago, when he arrived in the Bay Area. ("I don't know if I appreciated what was in my backyard," Curry says today.) Warriors forward Kevin Durant is still gauging which wines pair best with certain foods, still curious about terroir -- the environmental factors that affect wine. But he knows what he likes to unwind with, especially after a game: a richer, fuller-bodied pinot noir.
Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade started on riesling one night at Prime 112 in Miami years ago, now craves cabernet and, in a partnership with Napa's acclaimed Pahlmeyer wine, started his own label, D Wade Cellars, which features a red blend and a cabernet sauvignon. There's talk of a rosé to come.
Chris Paul likewise started on riesling before moving to reds, now adores pinot noir, befriended a master sommelier, partakes in blind tastings and visits vineyards during harvest. During a November game against the Warriors in 2015, when Paul was with the Clippers, he was bringing the ball up the court when he shouted to a man courtside. "Hey! You bring me any good wine?" The man was Juan Mercado, founder of Realm Cellars in Napa.
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Then there's Thunder forward Carmelo Anthony.
Anthony too went through a riesling phase, not long after he became intrigued by wine in 2007, back when he played for the Nuggets. He would soon begin vacationing at wine-rich regions around the globe. He'd stock up at a wine shop in Sacramento, savor early vintages of Dominus. He tried an '86 Petrus, a vintage Bordeaux worth thousands of dollars, and, in his words, there was "no going back" -- but then a friend persuaded him to give burgundies a chance, and though Anthony at first found them too intricate, he soon fell for those too. Now those varietals populate the six-bottle wine case Anthony lugs around the league.
As Anthony dove deeper into wine, he began engaging in blind tastings, tasting groups. He began priding himself on being able to pair wine with any dish. He became driven to pick up the tasting notes in any glass. "If a master sommelier gets 12 out of 12," Anthony declares about tasting notes, "I want to get three." And so he kept probing, developing his palate, until now, he says proudly and with a huge smile, "I can give you three."
Today, Anthony looks around the NBA and sees a blooming trend but admits some players might be intimidated by the vastness of the wine world. "You gotta find your own palate," Anthony preaches. "It's like art. Like everybody can't go buy the Basquiats and the Rembrandts, the big pieces. That's how I look at wine, you gotta figure out what you like."
When he was traded to the Knicks in 2011, Anthony began attending and hosting "two-bottle Sunday" New York City dinners with high-ranking aficionados -- those whose collections, he says, are valued in the millions. The mandate at such dinners: bring top-flight bottles.
"Here's a story," Anthony begins, sitting in the Thunder's practice facility on a chilly December morning. A few years ago, maybe 2014, he attended a dinner at the home of one of the East Coast's biggest collectors, along with about 80 others, all well versed in vino, and everyone was asked to bring his or her very best bottle. Oh my god, Anthony thought to himself. I don't want to be "that guy." Because I know those guys are coming with '50s, '60s, '70s. They'd go deep into their cellars, bringing the heat. Then it hit him: champagne. Always classy, always a safe bet. So he brought a Dom Pérignon Brut Rosé magnum, late 1990s.
At the end of the night, there was a contest to select the best bottle. And? Anthony grins now. He placed in the top three.
It's easy to see the corollary: NBA players are the product of so many unseen hours spent perfecting so many hidden details. So too is wine crafted against countless variables. For both to shine, it takes so much work no one will ever see. Courtesy Mayacamas
ACTRESS GABRIELLE UNION, who is married to Wade, remembers a time only a few years ago when her husband didn't drink wine at all. But then she pursued her own label -- Vanilla Puddin, a California chardonnay -- and an opportunity arose. Wade was young in wine but believed he might do such a thing at 40, after retiring.
It happened much sooner. By summer 2014, there he was, sitting at the Bardessono Hotel in Yountville, with three cabernet-centric red blends in front of him, each one crafted by Pahlmeyer to fit the style he specifically requested. Wade sipped all three, but in Goldilocks style, only one was just right -- 75 percent cabernet, 15 percent merlot, 7 percent cabernet franc, 2.5 percent petit verdot, 0.5 percent malbec, featuring notes of dark chocolate, cured tobacco, sage and blueberry pie. Wade beamed as he sipped that combination, declaring, "I feel like I've arrived. I've got my own wine now."
Says Union, author of the memoir We're Going to Need More Wine: "When they were first in the league . it was the jewelry and the cars and the rock star lifestyles and all the accoutrements that comes with that. As they all got older and started families, it was houses and all of the obvious visual trappings of wealth. Now no longer are people impressed by your financial portfolio or how big your house is. Nobody talks about square footage. Nobody talks about cars or jewelry or whatever. It's who can bring the best bottle of wine."
In dozens of interviews with players and those in the wine industry who've interacted with them -- winemakers, collectors, master sommeliers -- it's clear: The game's iconic figures are burgeoning oenophiles. But when it comes to which team is the most wine-obsessed, you'd be hard-pressed to beat the one whose colors are, fittingly, wine and gold.
SOMETHING IS OFF with the Cleveland Cavaliers. (And no, we're not talking about these last few weeks.) It's February 2014, and David Griffin has just been named acting general manager. But as he begins to examine the team's culture, he finds it . lacking. Seeking a fix, Griffin rips a page from Warriors coach Steve Kerr, whom Griffin worked alongside in the Suns' front office and who swears by the power of team dinners. And not just any dinners but wine-paired dinners. And for that, Griffin turns to his wife, Meredith.
Meredith is training to become a sommelier and hosts seminars about the relationship between wine and wellness as part of her company, decantU. She believes in wine's purported benefits -- that it's good for the cardiovascular system, good for the heart, that appreciating it inspires mindfulness, encourages being present. If you start noticing what the person across the table is smelling in the glass? Then you might begin paying more attention to him or her.
Consider the scene midday on Dec. 28, after visiting Mayacamas, as the Cavaliers head to the Brand Napa Valley winery, where they lunch in a cave before moving to the fermentation room. Inside are eight tables, each holding three wines Brand produces: a cabernet sauvignon, a cabernet franc and a petit verdot. Also on the table is its Brio, a Bordeaux-style red blend.
In what amounts to a team-building exercise -- a far cry from a contentious team meeting in their locker room 25 days later and a series of trade-deadline deals that would jettison six Cavaliers elsewhere -- the Cavs are divvied up among the eight tables, and players are told to try the blend, then mix together portions of the three other wines to match the blend. They're given no percentages they must go only by taste. Using graduated glass cylinders, players begin to mix, jotting down the quantities.
The formula for the Brio is 65 percent cabernet sauvignon, 30 percent cabernet franc and 5 percent petit verdot. Many come close to nailing the exact formula. But when the results are examined, one player, who'd visited this winery months earlier, in late August, comes closest.
"I got it, I got it!" Kevin Love shouts. And indeed he is close, very close, just a touch too rich, a percentage point too much of petit verdot. High-fives are exchanged at his table. "We have a future winemaker with us," the owners tell Love. "Of all the accolades in my career, that's up there," Love jokes.
Later that night, Griffin, who now lives in Sonoma with his wife, will arrive at the resort where the Cavs are staying, and Love will wrap Griffin in a bear hug.
"Did they tell you?" Love will ask. "I was 1 percent from perfect!"
Consider another scene in the Cavs' locker room, after their 109-95 road loss to the Kings, the team's second loss in what will become a 7-13 stretch leading to the Feb. 8 roster shakeup. Sitting at his locker, forward Channing Frye, who will be among six Cavaliers traded, discusses wine and its role on the team. "It's not just like 'Here's a Jack and Coke,' " Frye says. "It's like each bottle of wine is different. And I think it's just a representation of us and our relationship with each other."
Many, like James and Wade, love big, bold Napa reds. Frye lives in Oregon in the summer and enjoys the local fare, and as he ascended into middle age, he began to prefer a good pinot noir -- as does Kyle Korver. Still, Frye isn't afraid to try the Tempranillo that Jose Calderon gifted him, or to wander into South American wine.
The beverage is always present on the team plane, where quality labels are mandated (players bring the bottles, and Frye often delivered). It was the gift du jour during their latest Secret Santa exchange. It might not have been enough, all by itself, to save the roster from upheaval. But one restaurant manager, who works at a Western Conference hotel that has hosted the Cavaliers, notes that when the wine service begins, everyone stops. "Everyone is paying attention and talking about the nose and the color and the aroma of the wine," the manager says. "It's amazing." But who orders the best wine at these dinners? Frye, still sitting in his locker, leans forward, tilting his head back a bit, pausing, weighing possibilities.
"Probably Kevin," Frye says after a beat, and Love, who's sitting to Frye's right, his feet soaking in an ice bucket after logging 30 minutes against the Kings, appreciates the mention. Love hails from Oregon, prides himself on not easing into wine on a sweet white but instead his home state's famed reds.
"He has the simplest taste," Frye continues, "but he also . "
"Simplest taste?!" Love interrupts, his eyes wide, eyebrows raised, head perched forward.
"I mean easiest taste," Frye says. "Shut up."
"Simplest taste?" Love repeats.
A reporter chimes in: "Elementary, kind of?"
Frye: "No, I wouldn't say elementary."
Frye: "It's just simple. You just get solid bottles of wine."
Love: "I wasn't going to go with simple."
Frye: "What is the word for that? Very solid."
Love: "That's 'simple'? It's not."
Frye: "Reliable, very reliable taste. F--- you, Kevin."
Love, still shooting a glare at Frye, pauses for a beat, then another . "Simple?"
"I'm playing the best ball of my life and drinking wine pretty much every day." - LeBron James Dwight Eschliman for ESPN
AT THE CAVS' morning shootaround before their loss in Sacramento, Wade, sitting along the sideline, about six weeks before being traded back to Miami, is asked who on the Cavs knows the most about wine. Without hesitation, he points at James, who stands across the court. "He knows a lot. It's just something he don't want to share," Wade says. "But when we go out, it's, Bron, what wine we getting? You ask most of the guys on the team who orders the wine, we leave it to him to order."
Indeed, among the Cavs, the legend of LeBron's oenophilia is large.
As Love says, when it comes to wine, "Bron has a supercomputer in his brain."
"LeBron," Griffin says, "has instant recall. If he's driving on vacation and he passes a field that has lavender and seven other scents in it, LeBron can literally put his nose in a glass of wine three years later and say, 'I smell lavender.'"
And now, as James begins shooting around the 3-point arc, drawing conspicuously within earshot, he halts his routine to look toward Wade. "See," Wade says, "he heard 'wine,' so that's why he stopped."
James laughs. Wade is right. LeBron was creeping on us. He's also right that when it comes to wine, the world's greatest player is as tightly corked as a bottle of Château Latour. One need only peruse James' Instagram account to see how deep his passion for wine runs. But ask LeBron today about his favorite wine? Not going there. A specific region? Producer? Not going there either. Who knows the most on his team? No comment. Around the league? He'd rather not say. Was there a specific wine he was looking forward to trying on his pre-birthday Napa trip? "Yeah," James says, finally. "Every last one of them."
He'll admit he believes in wine's purported physical benefits: "I've heard it's good for the heart. Listen, I'm playing the best basketball of my life, and I'm drinking some wine pretty much every day. Whatever it is, I'll take it." Still, James knows he's a Worldwide Brand. And surrendering certain details will affect The Brand. ("I know how genuine I am about it," James says, "I just don't talk about it.") But he is willing to spill a few drops of his origin story.
As recently as a few years ago, James, by his own admission, "was not a wine guy. I didn't drink wine at all." But as he neared 30, his curiosity piqued -- and it helped that business partner Maverick Carter was a wine aficionado.
So he began sampling wines, learning more about vines, regions, reds, whites, blends. During a visit to a Napa winery with Chris Paul last August, James squeezed his frame into the back of a 1980s Toyota Land Cruiser, retrofitted to look like a safari buggy, and they explored the property, asking about what makes Napa unique, about the soil, sunlight, how to know which grapes to plant and where. James was especially interested in the business elements. How much does it all cost? How much time does it all take?
At one point, he let his now-3-year-old daughter, Zhuri, sip a high-end label. "Ooh, it tastes like rocks!" she told him. "It's nasty." (Although rocks, let it be known, are a tasting note, so perhaps Zhuri James was actually right on the nose.)
On another recent visit to a Napa winery, James wandered the vines, tasting grapes, asking about the business side. He tried two cabernet sauvignons, grown in different areas but made by the same producer. "I really want to know why they're different," he said. He was shown the dirt each was grown in -- one featured more gravel, the other more iron. Smell that, he was told, then go smell the wine. He did, and understood.
That, at least, is part of his origin story. But there exists another chapter -- and one that involves a famously fruity inflatable form of flotation.
Now on Dwyane Wade's table: his own wine, with notes of cured tobacco, dark chocolate and blueberry pie. Bob Metelus
HERE IS THE dilemma: They have rented a yacht, and they have ordered food for said yacht, but they do not yet have wine to pair with said food on said yacht. It is the very definition of a First World quandary, and it is taking place in the Bahamas during a July 2015 vacation. LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade must decide on a wine.
In the weeks, months and years to follow, this afternoon will be remembered for an altogether different thing: A photo of James, Wade and Paul perched atop a banana boat, along with Union, will go viral, and nothing thereafter will ever be the same. Never mind that the idea was Union's. And never mind that Anthony himself wasn't there. Wade, James, Anthony and Paul will become known as Team Banana Boat, a foursome as iconic as history will ever know.
But in the backdrop of this now-hallowed gathering, another photo will emerge, a photo that shows all four players on a yacht toasting with glasses of red wine. This photo was snapped on the yacht's top level, just hours after the banana boat excursion, as sunshine fell into night. It remains unclear what wine they imbibed all Anthony remembers is telling his friends that he'd bring his own he didn't trust, at this point, their palates. Wade remembers ordering Pahlmeyer as he broke the news to his friends that he'd agreed to partner with the winery. But attendees agree that this marked the moment when their personal wine journeys truly intertwined.
"That was, like, the beginning for them," Anthony recalls of that day's bottles. "They would [dabble], have a glass here, have a glass there. But that was the beginning of really starting to open up."
"It started there and went from there," Wade says.
The Banana Boat Tasting Group had set sail.
IT'S NEARLY MIDNIGHT on Oct. 25 when James, Wade and Isaiah Thomas enter a cozy restaurant in New York City's Greenwich Village after a five-point loss to the Nets. Brick walls constitute one side of the eatery, along with midcentury decor and turquoise tile -- a subtle tropical vibe with vintage glassware lining the bar's back wall. Though this restaurant comfortably seats only about 14, close to 25 will fill it tonight, thanks to friends and associates.
James, Wade and Thomas are sitting together, and soon heavy portions of red-sauced Italian dishes -- spicy rigatoni, chicken Parmesan -- sit before them. And to drink? Well, the establishment is known for its craft cocktails, so one staffer expects that they'll bring out Don Julio 1942 and that will be that. But no. Oregon pinot noir is ordered off the menu, and one member of their party unveils bottles of old Barolo from his private cellar. Over the next three hours, perhaps half a dozen bottles are opened, and each time, the mood turns serious: Players swirl the glasses, taking in whiffs, sipping the wine, discussing. Out come the phones, as they snap away at the labels -- and log on to something called Vivino.
Launched in 2011, the Danish application was created to help non-wine experts navigate the intimidating universe, largely by allowing users to snap a picture of a label and be fed instant insight: tasting notes, food pairings, average retail price. Billing itself as the world's largest wine community, Vivino allows users to buy wine -- and if you enjoy a bottle, offers recommendations for others you might also like.
"Shoutout to my Vivino app," Curry says. As Love says, "It's like Netflix for wine." For Blazers guard CJ McCollum? "It's life-changing."
One need only hold a phone 6 inches from a bottle and snap away, then Vivino shoots back a rating based on thousands of user opinions. It organizes scanned wines, creating pie charts that show users' taste profile. Users can follow their friends and study their wine selections -- friends like, say, the Banana Boat Tasting Group. But if those users happen to play in the NBA, they can find so many more.
Hawks swingman Kent Bazemore credits his wife first for introducing him to reds, namely pinot noir, but also praises veterans he has teamed with: Korver, Paul Millsap, Richard Jefferson. "It's smooth, hangovers aren't there," he says. "It helps you settle down before bed."
Rockets forward Ryan Anderson and his wife honeymooned in New Zealand last August just because he enjoys the local sauvignon blanc so much.
For Lakers forward Luol Deng, it started in 2013 when the Bulls were playing a preseason game in Brazil. He went out with Butler, Nazr Mohammed and Joakim Noah, and they enjoyed Argentine malbec.
Shaun Livingston wasn't into wine before he joined the NBA but spent his early years with the Clippers, around veteran forward Elton Brand and guard Cuttino Mobley -- "big wine connoisseurs," Livingston says -- and today professes a love for cabernet. "More fruity, more bold, a little aged," he says. He's hardly alone on the NBA team that resides less than an hour from one of the great winemaking regions of the world Livingston, Curry, Durant, Nick Young and Draymond Green also indulge.
Philadelphia 76ers guard J.J. Redick started drinking wine early in his NBA career, dabbling with cabernet and chardonnay. Now he prefers Barolos and burgundies, and for his birthdays, Redick's wife procures him a bottle of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, "DRC" as the sky-high-priced wine is known. On a recent 76ers road trip, Redick looked around the team plane. Back when Redick was drafted in 2006, he often saw, say, a bottle of vodka, Hennessey, or a 12-pack of Coors Light on team flights -- and that was basically it. Now? Says Redick: "It's pretty much exclusively wine."
Then there's McCollum, who today likes pinot noir ("We're going to have a lot of pinot tonight!" he declared after a 50-point performance in January) and has a cellar that holds 500 bottles. His backcourt mate Damian Lillard enjoys a good riesling. Forward Evan Turner is such a fan that, McCollum says, Turner spends his off-days going to local wineries. "I didn't even know," McCollum says. "He told me, and I was like, 'You've been doing this all year and you didn't tell me?' I was a little upset."
Gregg Popovich, it must be said, is revered in the world of wine, with a reported 3,000-bottle cellar highlighted in Wine Spectator. But Pop has a head start on many players who are new to the gilded grape so who among them now knows the most? Answers vary, unless you ask Anthony. "I'd probably be that guy," he says, proudly and without hesitation.
But what of Kobe "Vino" Bryant? The Lakers icon doesn't live up to the sobriquet he embraced in 2013 after hearing that his game aged as such. "I've heard that red is better with steak," Bryant says with a laugh. "That's about as far as I know."
So when Bryant and Anthony go out to dinner, Bryant slides the wine list across the table: "Melo," he says. "Do your thing."
Jimmy Butler brought bottles of pinot noir to the 2016 Olympics in his wine case. Dwight Eschliman for ESPN
IT'S JULY 2015, and Chris Miller is at his day job, working at a tech firm inside a downtown Los Angeles warehouse where it so happens that a charity commercial starring Chris Paul is being shot.
Someone mentions to Paul's wife that Miller is also a master sommelier -- a remarkably exclusive title. (Consider that 279 coaches and players have been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame 236 human beings are master sommeliers.) "Oh my god, Chris loves wine," she tells Miller, explaining that they had a very good bottle just the night before. She turns to her husband. "Show him your app." Paul opens Vivino and shows Miller a photo of wine.
Miller says this sort of thing happens to him from time to time, typically to poor effect. Imagine you were a chess grandmaster and the passenger next to you in coach wanted to talk chess strategy. It's like that. But then CP3's photo loads -- and it's a Domaine Marquis d'Angerville Volnay Taillepieds.
Miller pauses. The premier cru red Burgundy is smooth and graceful but hard to find, made by a small producer that isn't exactly a household name, a wine some sommeliers Miller knows don't even know. But it's excellent, a wine you'd be drinking only if you really knew what you were doing.
"Nobody talks about cars or jewelry. It's who can bring the best bottle of wine."
- Actress Gabrielle Union on husband Dwyane Wade's new obsession
There exists in the oenophile world a class of wealthy drinkers who can best be classified as "trophy hunters" -- those who pursue only break-the-bank bottles such as Domaine de la Romanée-Conti or Screaming Eagle but aren't really interested, otherwise, in understanding wine. But as Miller says of Paul's bottle: "It's not a trophy. It's something a knowledgeable wine lover drinks because it's delicious, not because they're showing off."
If Miller is impressed by Paul, Paul is all the more impressed by Miller. ("You ever seen Somm?" Paul at one point asks of a documentary on four sommeliers' near-crippling effort to pass the notoriously brutal master sommelier exam, with a pass rate of lower than 10 percent. "That was one of the craziest things I've ever seen.") So Paul scrolls through the app, allowing Miller to see the Banana Boat Tasting Group's selections, each one delicious and well-thought-out.
Over the next year, Paul and Miller stay in touch. Miller helps arrange an anniversary wine-tasting trip to Santa Barbara for Paul and his wife. Then Paul calls Miller in the fall of 2016. "Hey, are you in Napa this weekend?" he asks.
"Oh, I'm supposed to go up tonight," lies Miller, who is in the midst of waxing bottle tops at a winery where he works in Marina.
"Why don't you come have dinner with us?" Paul asks. Miller, naturally, drops everything and makes the three-hour drive from Marina to meet Paul at the Press Restaurant in St. Helena, where the general manager greets him at the door.
"What are you doing here? I haven't seen you in a year."
"Oh, just meeting some friends for dinner."
The general manager searches Miller's face, trying to read whether he's part of a private party or not, but not wanting to give away who is attending that party. Soon in walks Paul . and LeBron James. They head to the restaurant's private back room, about eight people, including James and Paul and their wives.
Over the next few hours of a lavish dinner, they open about six bottles, ranging from $50 to $1,000, each one discussed and savored. "I was kind of blown away," Miller says. "I mean, their breadth of knowledge and comfort with the wines was greater than I've seen from some major wine collectors."
Because you are, after all, the company you keep .
"I KNOW YOU don't know me," the phone call begins, "but I've got a group of guys that I'm taking around the country, and your name has come up, and we'd like to have a dinner in your wine cellar."
Devinder Bhatia, a Houston-based heart surgeon, isn't surprised. He has received calls like this one before. His cellar -- featured in Wine Spectator -- boasts 7,500 high-end bottles, worth well into seven figures, with wines dating to 1898. Such is the cellar's notoriety that he has hosted two Texas governors, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, NFL legends Jim Brown and Ronnie Lott, acclaimed chef Wolfgang Puck and rapper Ludacris. On the other end of this July 2016 phone call is Kamal Hotchandani, CEO of Haute Living, a luxury media platform and the point of contact for several NBA stars for luxury goods, including wines, watches, exotic cars and more.
And so a month later, on Aug. 1, at 9:30 p.m., Kevin Durant, DeAndre Jordan and Carmelo Anthony arrive at Bhatia's Victorian redbrick home in Houston's Museum District.
All three are with Team USA, which on this night trounced Nigeria to complete a 5-0 exhibition record. In a few days, the team will head to the Rio Olympics, but first Anthony wants to visit Bhatia's cellar.
Wine became Bhatia's passion in 1990, when a 1989 Châteauneuf-du-Pape paired perfectly with his steak. It started a fixation that would help serve as a respite, a way to decompress after work, where, he says, "if you miss by a millimeter, someone dies."
No one will die tonight. In fact, not long into the night, Durant, Jordan and Anthony enter a pool house, descend a wooden staircase, duck through a curved stone entryway and feel the chill of 55-degree air -- the temperature and humidity controlled by an app on Bhatia's phone. Inside the 30-by-35-foot space are wall-to-wall, two-bottle-deep, handmade stained mahogany racks that can hold up to 14,000 bottles. Through another stone entryway, Anthony admires the 200-plus bottles of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti -- considered among the world's most sought-after wines -- in various vintages, a collection worth more than half a million on its own.
Over the next several hours, during a five-course meal with two wines per course for a party of about 20, the players discuss characteristics of each wine. Durant and Jordan, relatively new to wine, favor California wines, but Anthony professes his love for old-world bottles, Burgundies and Bordeaux, among other more esoteric wines. "He gets it," Bhatia says. "He really gets it."
The players stay until well into the early morning, shooting hoops on Bhatia's driveway goal with his 14-year-old son, Drake, around 3 a.m. And the next time the Knicks are in Houston, for a New Year's Eve matchup against the Rockets, Bhatia is in his usual spot -- center court, behind the Rockets' owner, a few rows from the floor, where he has four season tickets. As Anthony runs out for warm-ups, he stops and heads over to Bhatia.
"Hey! I'm coming over after the game," Anthony tells him. "We're gonna drink some wine."
After the game, Anthony leaves not with the Knicks but with one of Texas' most acclaimed wine collectors.
THE MORNING AFTER the Cavs' wine-filled tour through Napa Valley, they gather for practice at nearby St. Helena High School before heading to Salt Lake City. Sitting to the side of the gym court, James is jovial. "We had one heck of a time," he tells a small group of reporters. He thanks local wineries for their hospitality -- for "literally opening their bottles for this organization, for myself." In mid-October, when the fires had burned, James had posted a video with his condolences and prayers to those affected in the area. Mention the NBA to Napa winemakers these days and that video will come up. "That meant a lot," Paul Roberts says, "to all of us."
Roberts, a master sommelier, is the COO of Colgin Cellars in St. Helena, and though the winery isn't open for public tours, James visited with friends last summer. When he arrived, James was studying clips of Michael Jordan on his phone. Roberts tucked the image away: the greatest basketball player on earth, not satisfied, still focused on becoming greater by watching the player who held that title before him.
Throughout a two-hour visit, James sought to understand every element of what was before him, how it all translated into the bottle. And Roberts reached an epiphany of sorts. James reminded him of others at the top of their fields -- all fascinated, if not obsessed, with high performance. "When you look at LeBron and Chris Paul and a lot of these other guys," Roberts says, "they've spent thousands of hours not only honing their body but also their mind. And this is why the wine world to them, I think, is fascinating."
And so, at Colgin, they can look out from the hillside property at 20 acres of cabernet sauvignon vineyards, so meticulously farmed they look like a bonsai garden. They can gaze from the patio where tastings occur at the sweeping views across Lake Hennessey. They can savor Napa's picturesque blue sky. They can admire its saturated light, all the better to grow some of the world's premier grapes. They can pace through the vines, picking the grapes, asking about the sunlight and soil, probing ever deeper, perhaps understanding better than most the quest to grow and create something beautiful.
Most Stylish: MDRN Home Glass Bottle Stopper
Add a touch of design to any wine bottle with these chic, fun glass stoppers by MDRN Home. Both elegant and functional, the stoppers have three styles and two color options to choose from: a diamond, cat or dog shape in either smoky gray or clear. They are also eco-friendly and feature a silicone seal for effortless recorking.
Wine Slushy or Wine Slushie, that is the question.
Actually, it doesn't really matter what you call it because this perfect alcoholic concoction is ideal when you want some wine and a frozen drink too.
Wine slushies have been around for quite awhile now, but I've never tired one before trying this recipe.
My Mom, who knows me too well, emails me an article about freezing wine into slushies.
Then she told me I had to make one ASAP and write a post about it. What Mama wants, Mama gets.
Honesty, I was a little uninspired going into this recipe because I thought:
- How could I love wine any more than I already do, so what's the point of freezing it??
- What a pain to have to freeze the wine and then blend it up to have it taste just like wine.
Wine Sulfites Are Fine, But Here's How to Remove Them Anyway
To revist this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories.
To revist this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories.
For millions of drinkers, the scariest two words on a bottle of wine are “CONTAINS SULFITES.”
Sulfites comprise a range of sulfur compounds---particularly sulfur dioxide (SO2)---that are a natural by-product of the fermentation process that work as a preservative against certain yeast and bacteria (which will quickly destroy a wine if they start to multiply). But fermentation alone doesn’t produce enough sulfite to preserve a wine for more than a few weeks or months in the bottle, so winemakers add extra in order to keep microbes at bay. Sulfites aren’t just in wine. Many, many foods ranging from crackers to coconut contain sulfites. Anything that’s at all processed is likely to contain at least some level of sulfites.
In 1986, the FDA identified sulfites as an allergen, following a rash of asthma cases reported around that time. Sulfites were promptly banned from raw fruits and vegetables, and as part of the warning label push in the late 1980s the feds required that sulfites be disclosed on wine labels if they could be detected at a level of 10 mg/L or higher. If you prove your wine has less than that, you can apply for an exemption---thus so-called “sulfite-free” wines exist. They are universally quite vile. Though many foreign producers include US warning labels, technically the rules only apply to domestic wines. Either way, sulfites are a regular part of winemaking around the world as a matter of necessity. Just because your bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape doesn’t have the warning doesn’t mean it isn’t full of sulfites.
And that’s how the hysteria over sulfites in wine got started.
Put simply, sulfites are to wine as gluten is to food. While the FDA says the overall prevalence of “sulfite sensitivity” is unknown, it notes that it is “probably low” and is most frequently associated with severe asthmatics. That hasn’t stopped all manner of people---many of whom are furiously typing out an angry comment below as you read this---from laying claim to sulfite sensitivity, arguing that the sulfites in wine cause a wide range of medical conditions. The big one: headaches.
Do sulfites cause headaches? Legions of drinkers say they do. Science says they don’t. (Same goes for MSG, by the way.) Here’s a look at the research.
A 2008 study in The Journal of Headache and Pain on alcohol and headaches said that even in individuals with asthmatic sulfite sensitivity, sulfites have not been shown to cause headaches. The study goes on to say that “On the other hand, there are many foods such as dried fruits, chips, raisins, soy sauce, pickles and juice fruits containing concentration of sulphites [sic] even ten times higher than that of wine.”
The Journal of Head and Face Pain noted in 2014 that “Sulfites were once linked to headache after wine ingestion. However, most of this belief is either speculative or in fact wrong, since the food and wine preservative sulfur dioxide (SO2), called generically sulfite, although present in wines, is much more existent in common foods that do not trigger headache attacks, such as dried fruit… Moreover, recently produced organic wines contain lower levels of sulfites or, indeed, have none at all, but the persistence of the headache triggering potential remains. In addition, published literature has not yet established any links between the presence of sulfite and headache.” (In other words, studies have found that people complain of headaches just as much after drinking sulfite-free wines.)
That said, many people do experience headaches when drinking red wine, so much so that Red Wine Headache has been acryonmmed to RWH. While the science is as yet unclear, major suspects include histamine and tyramine, two natural chemicals that can mess with blood pressure and lead to headaches. (Fun fact: Red wines have more histamine, but white wines usually have much more sulfite.) There’s also the inconvenient argument that wine contains lots alcohol, which has a significant dehydrating---and thus headache-inducing---effect.
But let’s say you have an asthmatic sulfite sensitivity but still want to drink wine and want to get rid of the sulfites. Or maybe you still think sulfites are giving you a headache. Is there a way they can be removed from wine after it’s already in the bottle?
It turns out there is, and that method is far less high-tech than you might think. The solution lies in a familiar brown bottle in every suburban bathroom: hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide oxidizes sulfites, turning sulfite into hydrogen sulfate, which does not cause the types of problems that are associated with sulfites. It’s long been said that a few drops of H2O2 in your wine will eliminate the sulfites altogether, at least in theory.
A number of products on the market also claim to eliminate sulfites in wine. 22SO2GO ($25 for 100 uses) comes in a small bottle that is sprayed into a glass of wine. (A single-use packet version, designed for desulfitizing an entire bottle, is also available.) Just the Wine ($6 for 25 uses) comes in a tiny bottle and is applied via drops in much the same way, directly into the glass. While there’s some flowery language surrounding both products, it doesn’t take long to suss out their active ingredient: both are simply water and hydrogen peroxide.
I put both products to the test---along with some household H2O2---to see if they really worked as advertised. I tested with old and young wines, domestics and imports, reds and whites.
I used standard sulfite test trips to roughly measure sulfite levels. These strips use shades of pink to approximate sulfites and don’t give you an exact number, but generally I found that untreated wines had sulfite levels between 50 and 100 mg/L, exactly what most experts claim.
Both SO2GO and Just the Wine were effective at lowering sulfite levels, but used as directed, Just the Wine had a greater impact with less product added to the wine glass---its three drops reduced the amount of sulfite in the wine by half. SO2GO’s recommended two sprays took sulfites down by about a third, but another couple of sprays took it roughly to parity with Just the Wine. Neither had any noticeable impact on the taste of the wine---but these were hardly first-growth Bordeaux I caliber wines.
For kicks, I dumped about half an ounce of standard pharmacy hydrogen peroxide into a glass of wine, and that was able to nearly eliminate the sulfites altogether. Unfortunately, at that concentration, the wines succumbed to some seriously off flavors, bitter and metallic notes that were readily noticeable. The custom products might be the same stuff, but it was far easier to control their application and arguably safer than using bulk peroxide, as both claim to use “food grade” H2O2 in their formulation and are designed for small-scale application. The idea of bringing a jug of pharmacy hydrogen peroxide to dinner does have a certain anarchic appeal, though.
So, the TLDR version of all of this is that sulfites probably don’t cause headaches---at least, they don’t cause your headaches---but if you’re concerned about sulfites you can dial them back a bit (but not completely) through some simple hydrogen peroxide drops.