edited by Sue Courtney
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Murray Almond's "From the Left Island"
Two of the great joys of wine are sharing it with friends and drinking it in interesting places. However there are also two important factors in the enjoyment of wine when either you or the wine has traveled. One is making sure that the wine gets there properly and the other is making sure that the right glassware is there to drink it with.
In this article I'll discuss wine bottle carriers and also glass carriers. This will focus on carriers you take with you. In a separate article I'll look at ways to send or ship your wine to other places, if you can afford to be apart from it, of course. The photos below come from the Murray Almond Wine Accessories CollectionTM. Any offers to sublicense the collection can be made to other author with appropriate inducements.
The first element is the bottle carriers. The bottle carriers should serve two purposes, protecting the wine bottle from being broken and also providing some thermal stability for the wine, you don't want to let the wine get too hot, or warm if it's been chilled, while you are travelling.
While it is possible to wrap the bottle in newspaper and transport in a Plastic Bag from Kmart, there is a certain amount of style that can be brought into play here. There are a host of bottle bags available at all price levels. Figure 1 (right) below shows a few that I was able to obtain for a very reasonable price; in fact free, with the purchase of a bottle or two of wine that matched the design on the bag. Another way of thinking about it is that the bag was expensive, but did come with free wine.
All three serve slightly different purposes, the Tahbilk bag (on the right) is good for carrying two bottles nicely, although it only really suits cabernet-shape bottles, which is the type Tahbilk typically uses. The Perrier-Jouët bag (in the middle) is great for champagne as it also fits a chiller block to keep the bubbly cool.
So you've got wine in tow, but there's not much worse that getting to taste the wine and the glassware is not up to scratch. I've written before about the importance of glassware and I practice what I preach. As I mentioned in the article I find that the standard Tasting Glass is the best all-around glass for wine. I had been searching high and low for a good glass carrier to no avail, and had taken to taking glasses in the box they came in.
However on a trip to South Africa last year I encountered the perfect thing. A wonderful carrier for six tasting glasses produced by the Cape Wine Academy in the Stellenbosch wine area near Cape Town. I haven't encountered such a carrier anywhere else, but I'm pretty sure there's a market for them. The message on top of the carrier, "Conserve Water, Drink Wine" is an important one that I endorse fully. The photos below show it closed and open.
There are not that many glass carriers around the place especially for larger glass types such as the Riedel glassware. Riedel market a soft-sided case that holds 4 Bordeaux glasses for about $90aud, but there are other options.
My vinous friend Ric Einstein; known to the wine world as TORB (www.torbwine.com) got sick of inadequate glassware at restaurants and made his own carrier for Riedel Shiraz glasses from a large aluminium camera case. This is shown to the right.
Ric notes that there been little or no problem taking his suitcase to a restaurant, however he does clean his own glassware after dining.
Carrying Both Bottles and Glasses
The next option is to carry both bottles and glasses to the various functions. My most recent purchase is a carrier (left) that I found at the local Post Office. This insulated carrier either holds two bottles, or a bottle and two tasting glasses. With the napkins it's just the thing for the watching the Grammar School rowing race.
The next two cases (pictured below on the left) are probably my favourites, mainly because you can take them anywhere and not look like a wine geek until they're opened. Closed, they look like normal business cases, the Airline Frequent Flyer Tags completing the illusion.
I picked up the black case (shown opened, below centre) for a bargain at a clearance centre. It's probably the best all around carrier, as the insulation keeps white wine chilled and also maintains the right temperature for reds. The four tasting glasses and opener fit snugly. A great all-around solution, I'm not sure if they're still available but I have a number of buyers if they surface anywhere.
The leather briefcase (shown opened, below right) is a do-it yourself conversion I did during the holidays. It is designed for a couple of bottles of red and two Riedel-shaped glasses. The foam inserts were from a bottle mailer and the foam was cut to size by the local foam supplier. This case does the job very nicely, but did gather a few, I think envious, sideways glances when I took it to the restaurant.
So there's a quick overview of some of the bottle and glass carriers out there. In this article I've barely touched the surface, there's all sorts of options if you look around.
Some can be picked up for a song, others you have to pay a bit more for. Louis Vuitton have a great leather bottle holder for $1500, and when I was last in the shop I thought that their logo shoe carrier was just the thing to carry around eight Riedel Shiraz Glasses in comfort and style. Just the thing for Father's Day for around $2,500.
Great wine deserves appropriate storage, transportation and the right glassware in which to enjoy it. The right carriers protect the wine and the glasses, enabling the wine lover the best opportunity to get the best out of it.
© Murray Almond
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