Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Short post today.  I use Cellartracker for looking up consumer tasting notes for various wines and wineries. I've noticed that the word "salinity" seems to crop up quite frequently these days. I don't recall its usage being that prevalent before, but now, lots of folks are using it. 

My observation is that certain terms or descriptors go viral in the world of tasting notes. Salinity is one of the new buzz words?

That said, there's certainly nothing wrong with using that term, or any other term, if that's the best way to describe a wine.  And just how many terms can there be?  I get tired of using the same ones over and over again and wish I could be more creative but on the other hand, what is better: to be creative or to be accurate?  I guess creatively accurate would be best but the inspiration for the synapses in the brain to fire full force isn't always there. 

Same with the audio world.  Over there, everyone likes to use wide soundstage as a positive way to describe the sound of gear they like.  In fact, the wider the better and if you can say it sounds like it extends 50 feet outside the physical boundaries of your speakers and even into the next door neighbor's house and beyond, all the better.  Or pinpoint imaging - like you could get up and point to exactly where the instrument or vocalist was located, even to the size of a dime (never mind that people and instruments are larger than dimes). 

Anyway, I just wanted to point out that I see salinity used in tasting notes a lot more now than before.  The reader should take that observation with a grain of salt, however.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Another New Arrival - Wine Enthusiast 24 Bottle Wine Cooler

Back on July 5, my post was about a 16 bottle Wine Enthusiast brand wine cooler (model 272-03-16A) I'd just purchased from Costco.  So far so good with that one - I have it set for 55 degrees and the separate thermometer I use for an independent measurement is pretty much always in the range of 54.1 - 54.5 degrees, with 54.3 being the most common reading. 

Since then I've added my 3rd wine cooler to the stable, again from Costco. It's another Wine Enthusiast model, this time a 24 bottle unit. I don't have a need for it just yet but I will in a month or so (that's the subject of an upcoming blog post).  I had a sneaking suspicion that this one wouldn't be available that long because it seems Costco is the only store that carried this model (I think it was 272-03-24-2A); it isn't even listed on the Wine Enthusiast site. Sure enough, when I checked today Costco doesn't list it anymore so I'm glad I snapped one up.

[edit: as of today, 8/26/14, it is back on the site and you can see it by clicking here.]

The reason I bought it from Costco is their excellent return policy. If anything goes wrong during the warranty period, I just take it back to the brick and mortar store for a refund - no muss, no fuss. 

Thankfully the cooler arrived safe and sound. It was very securely packaged, with generous use of dense foam padding.  

It's a dual-zone cooler, 12 bottles on top and 12 on the bottom, 3 bottles wide, with a thermoelectric panel for each section.  I like the slimmer footprint (14.25" wide x 19" deep x 33" high) as opposed to having a four-bottle width. Here's a picture:

Oh good grief, what's that silver stuff on the front, you're probably wondering. 

It's aluminum foil. 

The foil is there to keep the light out.  It's only on top because the bottom half has some black plastic thing inside the glass to block the light. Take off the foil and it's a pretty attractive unit with a solid glass door.  I'd say Costco's price of $199 shipped is a bargain. 

As you can see, I monitor the temperatures using a pair of thermometers; the one of the left which also has a hygrometer, is for the top and the one on the right is for the bottom.  Both panels on the cooler are set for 56 degrees. The thermometer readings are typical, with a variance of about half a degree in either direction during the day. The probes are set in the middle of each section. 

It's a hot summer here in Southern California and the ambient temperature goes as high as 87 during the day.  This cooler does an admirable job of maintaining a constant temperature.  The only complaint is a constant soft buzz that emanates from the electronic section.  It's not loud but it is audible. 

The racks are serviceable.  Nothing special and in fact they don't seem to be perfectly straight so they wobble slightly unless there are bottles to weigh them down. They're wide enough to hold Burgundy bottles side by side, although it's a tight fit. 

I've only had it less than a week so far but at least it performs very well.  I don't know if they're temporarily or permanently out of stock at Costco but I'm happy I was able to get one. 

As for what's going in it, I'll blog about that soon.