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Sunday Serendipity
RAVI TO THE RESCUE: When You Need A Chill

By Stephen Eliot

Has this ever happened to you? You need a bottle of wine in a hurry, especially a white wine, and everything that you have ready is at room temperature. “Curses. Foiled again”, as Snidely Whiplash so famously said. Ah, but now the answer is at hand.

Over our long careers at Connoisseurs’ Guide, the world of wine “accessories” has provided us with ceaseless amusement and an occasional gasping-for-air laugh. From magnetic collars and magical metal pieces that when dipped into a glass promise to age a wine one year for every second in contact (no, we are not making this up), to new ultrasonic devices claiming to “make wine taste three times better” (perhaps thus mandating a 300-point scale of evaluation), there has for years been an entertaining parade of vinous gimcrackery that reminds us that some folks apparently have too much money, money from which they are easily parted.

Once in a while, however, something does come along that strikes us as a very good idea. Not long ago, we happened on a dandy little Canadian contraption named the Ravi Instant Wine Chiller. Now we have no argument that temperature is a very real factor when it comes to maximizing the enjoyment of any wine, and anyone who has tried drinking Cabernet at 78 degrees or a half-frozen Chardonnay will agree. Most whites show their best somewhere in the range of 45 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit, and red wines from about 62 to 68 degrees, and while a bit of foresight and a refrigerator or ice bucket are the obvious means to success, there are times when sudden, spur-of-the-moment service catches us unprepared.

That is when the Ravi is called into duty. A simple device that is kept in the freezer ready for use, the Ravi is inserted into the bottle neck much as a stopper or cork, and the wine is poured through its interior frozen stainless steel tube. There is a small valve that when covered with the thumb allows control of the wine’s flow and thus its temperature; the slower the rate, the colder the wine. The bottom line is that the thing really works, and it works well enough to put up with the annoyance of careful handwashing. It is not something that we use every day, and, variously priced from forty to fifty dollars, it is a bit pricey, but it has more than once come to the rescue when planning failed, and we intend on keeping one in the freezer ready to go at a moment’s notice. Check it out.


We are having a bit of Indian Summer here in California. Not only is this spell of warm, but not overly hot weather going to help the harvest that is so threatened this year, and already damaged in some vineyards already (we heard reports that the Alegria Vineyard has lost most or all of its crop to sunburn during the heat speak a couple of weeks ago), by speeding up the retarded development of those grapes that are still healthy, but it extends barbecue season as well. Today’s wine is designed for those who will enjoy the end of summer warmth before hiding the Weber away as the coolness of Autumn sets in.

DECOY is lower-priced label belonging to the Duckhorn Winery. If you have ever fallen for the its Zin- based Paraduxx bottling, you will join us in favoring this more affordable wine—a wine whose character asks for savory burgers or lamb kebabs hot off the grill.

88 DECOY Zinfandel Napa Valley 2008 $22.00

Nicely stated themes of ripe blackberries are met in the nose by touches of briar and milk chocolate and continue on into the wine's like-minded flavors. Medium-full-bodied and nicely balanced on the palate, this one flirts with a scant bit of finishing heat but in the end wins the nod for its continuity and fine varietal focus.

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