Sunday, June 11, 2017

Wino4Life Product Review: Avina Wine Accessories Rhino Corkscrew

**DISCLAIMER** The corkscrew reviewed in this post was provided to me free of charge by Avina Wine Accessories.

The fine folks at Avina Wine Accessories gave me the opportunity to select one of their products to review for I browsed their online store, and one item from their line of corkscrews immediately stood out to me.  I do appreciate a classic looking corkscrew, but even more I appreciate something with a different look - so I opted for the Rhino Corkscrew and Bottle Opener.  It has an almost Craftman tool aesthetic to it that I really like. I feel more manly already!
The Rhino!

From my Wine Lover's Toolkit post, you'll see that a good corkscrew is the first item on my list.  There are lots of wine related gizmos and gadgets out there, some crucially important while others are just cool to include in your toolkit (no shame in stocking up on the cool ones... I have plenty!)  A really good corkscrew is definitely one of those crucial items.  You must be able to efficiently and effectively release the wonder-filled contents of those cork sealed bottles of wine.  You could very happily subsist on only screw top bottles or boxed wines - but chances are you will eventually come across a cork that stands between you and your swirl and sip of delicious wine. Be prepared people!!!

Before we get to the Rhino, let me first address what you should be looking for in your go-to corkscrew.  Although there are other types available, for now I'll stick to just the "waiter's helper" or "wine key" version.  

Here is my current go-to corkscrew from Le Creuset, which gets a workout several times a week in our house (and occasionally accompanies us on wine country vacations!).  Like this one, your corkscrew should have a curved blade to cut the foil from the wine bottle.  I prefer a good serrated edge so you don't ever have to worry about sharpening.  Next up is the arm of the corkscrew that you place on the lip of the bottle to give leverage for opening (for you wine trivia buffs, this is called the "fulcrum").  You want to find a corkscrew with a two part, hinged fulcrum as it makes opening the bottle much easier than a one piece fulcrum, and will save you from breaking many corks. The screw component or "worm" should have a sharp pointed tip, and spirals around vs. looking like a drill bit. You want to grab hold of the cork, not drill a hole in it. Last up is a feature that is not mandatory, but it is convenient to also have a bottle opener for those times you opt for a non-wine beverage. OK, so now that we know what we want in a corkscrew, let's see what the Rhino has to offer. Here's a look at the boxed product:

Along with the corkscrew, there is a special bonus of a bottle cap for your leftover wine.  This item will not get much use in our household, as leftover wine is a rarity.  To store extra wine for any length of time, it is best to remove the excess air in the bottle by pumping it out or replacing it with argon gas, but for an easy to use quick way to keep some extra wine for a short time, the cap is a nice bonus.  This cap has a locking lever and appears to provide an excellent seal on a bottle.

Now for the corkscrew itself. It feels hefty in the hand - very sturdy.  It is a bit heavier than my Le Creuset.  Everything on the corkscrew looks and feels like quality. Opening it up to take a closer look, I very much like the design just like when I first saw it on the Avina website.  It has a hinged fulcrum, sharp tip on the worm, and a substantial serrated blade for cutting the foil.

OK, now we know the Rhino has all the features we're looking, it's time for the main event. Let's put it to the most important test and open up a bottle of wine. The first thing I notice is the serrated blade. It has a more distinct curve to it than I've ever seen on a corkscrew, and it is a hefty little blade.  Definitely the best foil cutter I've ever used. 

The worm has a groove that runs all the way down to the tip, which could be to provide a better grip on the cork - nice touch.  The corkscrew was easy to use, and the best part is at the end we had an open bottle of Martian Vineyards Grenache to enjoy on a Sunday evening.

Just to give the Rhino it's full workout, let's also crack open a beer.  As with most corkscrews, the fulcrum has a bottle opener groove, but I opted for the Rhino horn end and voila!

Overall the Rhino is a very impressive product.  If you are in the market for a good corkscrew I would definitely suggest the Rhino and also suggest checking out the Avina website to see what else they have to offer.  I'm going to keep on using the Rhino, and I'll get back to you with an update after we've popped a few more corks (and the occasional beer).

If you are interested in purchasing a Rhino, or another Avina product, you can use the discount code AVINA15A which will give you 15% off any order. All you have to do is purchase from their website ( or and use the promotional code during the checkout process. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Weekly Wine Review - Central California Red - 2014 Dragonette Pinot Noir, John Sebastian Vineyard

When in doubt, ask a local. Great advice in general, but you might not think about it when visiting a winery.  You may think it would be like asking your local cars salesman who offers good cars in the area...but you'd be wrong!  On a recent trip to Santa Barbara wine country with some great wino friends, we asked at several wineries we visited for suggestions - and more than one recommended Dragonette. Let's see if they knew what they were talking about!

Wine: 2014 Dragonette Pinot Noir, John Sebastian Vineyard

Region: Santa Rita Hills, Santa Barbara County California
Grape Varieties: Pinot Noir

Obtained from: Purchased at winery
Price: $57
Wino4Life Category: Weekend Wine+ (A bit over the $50 weekend limit, but close enough!)

Aeration before tasting: Just a swirl or two, no special aeration.

Cork Condition: Natural cork - no defects or issues.

Appearance: Dark red, translucent.
Aroma: Red fruit, earth, spices.
Taste: Good acidity, spices really come through in the taste. Nicely balanced with a nice earthy finish.

The Grade: I give this one a B+. A bit spend-y nearing the $60 mark, but overall a really nice wine. Looks like the locals knew what they were talking about!  Try some Dragonette if you get a chance!  Cheers!