Drip, drip, no drip?

You pour your wine, you lift the bottle gently and, splat! A dark red Rorschach blot stains the tablecloth.

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Has this ever happened to you? Heck, can any of you claim this has never happened to you? I’ve even seen certified sommeliers do it in fancy restaurants, and they are supposed to know all the tricks.

I’ve long since lost count of the number of wine bottles I’ve opened, and I think I’ve mastered the drip-stopping “sommelier twist,” yet I hit our nice yellow Provence tablecloth with another red splat just the other night.

Not long afterward, as if to mock me, up popped an article about an inventor’s new approach. Daniel Perlman, a wine-loving biophysicist at Brandeis University, has been enjoying his 15 minutes of fame thanks to his recent invention that stops wine drips before they start.

After much deep thought and taking some slow-motion videos of wine being poured (he is, after all, a prolific inventor and a physicist), Perlman and engineer Greg Widberg grabbed a diamond cutting tool and modified several glass wine-bottle necks, cutting a narrow groove around their circumference just below the lip.

The groove catches a pesky droplet.

The groove catches a pesky droplet.

A droplet of wine that would otherwise run down the side of the bottle encounters the groove, but can’t traverse it, they explained to the university’s BrandeisNOW magazine. The pesky droplet, stymied by the groove, immediately falls off the bottle into the glass along with the rest of the wine. Click here to read the full article, including a very short video showing the grooved neck in action.

Perlman is currently speaking with bottle manufacturers about adopting his design, the magazine says, but unless you’ve got a diamond cutter handy at home, I wouldn’t hold my breath while waiting for the industry to adopt grooved bottle necks as standard.

What else can we do? Perhaps most practical until Prof. Perlman’s grooved bottle necks take over the market, there’s a handy-dandy accessory called WineDisc, a circle of shiny foil that rolls into a drip-stopping tube that you insert into the bottle neck to make a drip-resistant pouring spout.

You can get a dozen for only $7.92 on Amazon.com, and they work well enough that I just ordered a dozen more for myself. (Full disclosure: They don’t always work, in my experience. On occasion, if you wrangle the bottle a little too enthusiastically, a blurp of wine will splash out. But they do reduce drippage about 90 percent of the time. With that caveat, I highly recommend them for the relatively small price.
Order The Original WineDisc – Pack of 10 Drop Stopping Pour Spouts from Amazon.com now for just $7.49.

Of course, we can all keep trying to master the sommelier twist, a move that’s easier to perform than it is to describe. When you’re finished pouring, while the bottle neck is still over the glass, give the bottle a half-turn as you gently lift it up – avoid the instinct to do this quickly – so any residual drops turn from the bottom to the top of the aperture, ideally dripping back in to the bottle. You’ll also notice that sommeliers use napkins effectively, both to wipe the neck discreetly after pouring, and to wrap around the bottle to catch drops running down the sides.

At home, I’ve also applied the simple approach of working over a couple of paper towels or a cheap table mat. When the inevitable drip happens, at least it will land on something more disposable than our tablecloth.

I’d love to know how you handle wine-pouring drips, especially if you have a tried-and-true technique that I haven’t mentioned here. Please post them on our WineLovers Discussion Group forum or WineLovers Facebook page, and I’ll share your ideas in a future column.


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March 2017 Wine Focus: Wines of Spain

We’re talking about the wines of Spain, all of Spain, in Wine Focus, our popular monthly wine forum discussion topic, this month. From Jerez to Rioja Alta, from Galicia to Barcelona; red, pink and white and Sherry and Manzanilla too. Bring your favorites, or bring something that you haven’t tried, and maybe we can learn a little more about Spanish wine regions, grapes and the wines that are not to be missed!

Join us in the conversation! Click Wine Focus for March 2017: Wines of Spain, and bring your tasting notes, comments and questions about Spanish wines.

You’ll find my tasting reports below on two Spanish reds:
* Campo Viejo 2014 Rioja Tempranillo ($12.99), a modestly priced Rioja that gives a good, approachable sample of this iconic Spanish wine region.
* Bodegas Volver 2014 “Tarima” Alicante Monastrell ($12.99), a hearty, powerful red from Alicante, the wine region near Valencia in Southeastern Spain.


Today’s Tasting Reports

Campo Viejo 2014 Rioja Tempranillo ($12.99)

Campo Viejo

Dark reddish-purple, only slightly more red at the edge. Typical scents of simple Rioja, fresh Bing cherries cloaked by aromatic vanilla. Bright red-cherry fruit on the palate, shaped by a brisk mix of fresh-fruit acidity and soft tannins, with a touch of vanilla joining the fruit in a medium-long finish. Food-friendly and appealing, with rational 13% alcohol. U.S. importer: Pernod Ricard USA, Purchase, N.Y. (March 15, 2017)

FOOD MATCH: The label suggests “pasta, poultry and fresh light cheeses, grilled chicken, small bites (light cheese, grilled vegetables).” We put it up against roasted vegetables: fennel, celery, onions, garlic and grilled fennel-scented Italian sausages.

WHEN TO DRINK: This simple Rioja is not a long-term ager, but I wouldn’t worry about keeping it under good storage conditions through 2020.

It’s certainly a good value in the lower teens, but shop around if you can, as Wine-Searcher.com shows a $10 U.S. retail average, with a few vendors going as low as $8 or $9.

This page shows all of Campo Viejo’s Rioja wines. Click the Tempranillo bottle image on the left to open more information about this wine.

Find vendors and check prices for Campo Viejo Rioja Tempranillo on Wine-Searcher.com.

Bodegas Volver 2014 “Tarima” Alicante Monastrell ($12.99)

Bodegas Volver

Made from organic grapes grown on 40-year-old vines, unfiltered and unfined and aged in French oak, this is a dark, almost opaque deep-purple wine. Raspberries and blackberries show first in the aroma, woven with more subtle scents of cinnamon and roses. It’s tart and quite tannic on the palate – a characteristic of Monastrell (Mourvèdre in France), but there’s abundant black fruit, too, adding distinct currant jam as it crosses the palate, lingering with astringent tannins in the long finish. The 14.5% alcohol shows itself in a touch of heat, but the wine is big enough to carry it. U.S. importer: Cutting Edge Selections Inc., Mariemont, Ohio; Jorge Ordoñez Selections (March 11, 2017)

FOOD MATCH: It went well with locally produced grass-fed beef, and it really needs a foil like beef or lamb or high-fat cheese to bring it down to size.

WHEN TO DRINK: It’s drinking well now in spite of the tannins, which will probably outlive the fruit. I’d drink it up in the next two or three years.

For a change, my local price actually beat the $15 average U.S. retail shown on Wine-Searcher.com. It’s certainly a good value anywhere in the middle teens, and if you’re in a position to shop around online, you may be able to find it for ten bucks or less.

Here’s a fact sheet in English on the winery’s web page.

Compare prices and find vendors for Bodegas Volver “Tarima” Alicante Monastrell on Wine-Searcher.com.


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