The travel size Philip Stein Wine Wand is said to reduce the amount of time red wines need to breathe. Wine experts agree that for red wines – and a few whites as well – anywhere between 15 minutes and an hour is typically needed for the flavor and aroma to reach their maximum potential. But on a luxury vacation in Tuscany, or Napa Valley, who has that kind of time to swirl their glass of Pinot Noir around? We want to start drinking, people! The travel sized Wine Wand may be just what the sommelier ordered, so to speak.
Now, let’s be totally clear here: There are people who know a lot about wine, and then there’s, well, me. Despite the best attempts of the wine expert in my family, I have a hard time learning anything besides “just let it breathe.” I know I like Merlot, but am I supposed to? That guy in Sideways practically compares it to slop. The couple of times I’ve vacationed in Napa Valley, I took winery tours and classes – and the two items of interest that really stuck are, it’s true that red wine is best after letting it breathe, and that if you sniff tobacco and then Cabernet that came from grapes grown in tobacco-infused dirt, you can smell the tobacco in the wine. Talk about a peak travel experience.
Since I tend to avoid sticking my nose in a cup full of tobacco leaves, the importance of letting reds breathe is the concept that I’ve really taken to heart. When I received a Philip Stein Wine Wand to review, I understood its appeal. It’s a lovely glass stick, basically, that purports to aerate reds in a couple of minutes. But does it work? Here are the instructions I followed:
*Pour equal amounts of wine from a freshly opened bottle into two glasses
*Place the glasses several feet apart on a surface that is not glass or metal.
*Place the Wine Wand into one glass.
*Wait 2-3 minutes and then smell and taste the “wanded” wine first to experience the difference before tasting the other.
I did this, and I could absolutely taste the difference. I used a bottle of syrah from the Miner Family Vineyard in Napa Valley. Now, syrahs are spicy and dark, but not oaky — and this was an older bottle, so less tannic to begin with. Yeah…maybe not the best wine to use for this test, but it’s what I had! Nonetheless, the difference between the aerated wine and the glass that was only poured was striking, and immediately obvious. Who would have thought that this little glass wand, with pretty crystals rattling around inside, could make such a difference? Again, reds need 15-20 minutes exposure to air to reach peak aeration, sometimes even an hour; this softens the flavor and allows the aromas to bloom. There’s a reason we see those wine experts sloshing their glasses of reds around (it’s not just snobby pretension). The Philip Stein Wine Wand aerates glasses of wine for us, without the 15-minute wait. Of course, for some of us, even that 2 or 3 minute wait may seem too long before raising our glasses…but even a relatively undereducated wine drinker such as myself can tell, and appreciate, the difference.
The Philip Stein Wine Wand is expensive, costing $325 for the travel sized version. I don’t think the casual wine drinker would need one. However, it would make a great luxury gift for true fans and experts who understand the improved flavor of properly aerated red wines. The travel version, with its alligator embossed leather, would be easy to pack for a trip to any Wine Country. It looks great, and it actually works like a charm. For people serious about their vineyard vacations, that may be all the incentive needed.
Thanks to the Philip Stein Company for supplying The Vacation Gals with this product.