Thursday, March 10, 2011

Unnecessary Wine Gadgets

As a golfer and wine-lover, I’m no stranger to the urge to purchase the latest gadget or gizmo. I’ve learned over the years, however, that the payoff is generally much greater for golf gear--from hula-hoop-looking devices that ostensibly help keep your swing on plane to laser beams that shoot out of the top of your club to help groove a smoother, more linear take-back. I’ve inherited a love of these things from my father, whose own collection may one day find a home in the Smithsonian. (And for the record, in all fairness to him, he still regularly beats me on the course, out-driving me off the tee and out-performing me around the greens. If there’s a better justification for the swing-aids he owns, I cannot think of one.)

With wine, there are just as many tools you can purchase, but as far as I can figure out, precious few of them actually make your wine taste better. (Decanters and aerators aside, of course.)

I bring this up because a ridiculous bottle-opener has just been recalled (see the photo above), and no matter how hard I work my way through the logic that might have led so many people to purchase this ridiculous thing, I still can’t wrap my mind around why it was even considered in the first place.

Here’s the pitch, taken right from QVC’s web site:

Get your hands on the newest (and coolest) way to uncork wine bottles with the skybar air-pump opener. A perfect gift for wine lovers and party hosts at a palatable price point, this unique gadget uses forced air to quickly remove corks...How does it work? It's simple: just insert the pin into the cork (the pump automatically centers the needle and hugs the bottleneck) and pump the handle--done! The cork slides right off the pin with the ejector disk...No more contending with inconvenient corkscrews, levers, gears, batteries, or gas cartridges. skybar is known for innovation, functionality, and sleek styling, and this set delivers.”

Pins? Air pumps? Ejector disks? All to remove a cork?

According to the magnificently named Injury Board Blog Network, “A large number of reports of injury while using a wine bottle opener have prompted the recall of the dangerous product. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that Sunbeam Products, Inc. is recalling 159,000 Skybar Air Pump Wine Opener brand wine bottle openers because the product is causing the bottle to break during the opening process. According to the CPSC release, consumers have reported 52 incidences of the wine bottles breaking while the consumer used the product, resulting in 22 reports of injuries such as cuts to the hands.”

The real news here, however, is that despite the huge gains in sophistication that the American wine market has made, people still insist on wasting their money on gadgets they really don’t need. Personally, I use an old-fashioned waiter’s corkscrew. The Rabbit is also handy for home use if you really want something more elaborate, but in general, my advice is to stick with the standards for your wine life.

Golf gear, however, is a whole other story...


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