I am not a winner. Lest you fear this post will be driven by personal tales of woe, I encourage you to stay the course: I’m referring to my absolutely horrid luck at games of chance. It’s why I don’t play the lottery or pump tokens into slot machines. Carnival games? No thanks; the last time I “won” anything at a midway show I was ten years old and trudged home with a set of the ugliest cookware from 1975. Even my mom hated it. My sister, on the other hand, skipped home with $25 in her pocket, thanks to an instant-win ticket displaying three golden pineapples at the top. Her sweepstakes stars were obviously better aligned than mine.
But recently I’ve experienced an uncharacteristic streak of good luck – I’ve won (and not in the dubious sense of the word) two random drawings. Even better, they are wine-related items, which makes them real prizes!
A few weeks back, I participated in Katarina Andersson’s informative and interactive Wines of Italy Livestream, which happens every Tuesday afternoon at 3 pm eastern time. Katarina is originally from Sweden but now lives in Florence, Italy. She divides her time between translation services (Swedish/Italian/English) and writing and educating people about wine. Each week she hosts a live chat with one of the movers and shakers of the Italian wine world. If you’re free at that time, do check it out – the chats provide a window into how wines are made in the different regions of Italy, as well as the challenges faced by smaller producers who seek exposure to international markets. You can also read more about her efforts on her blog Grapevine Adventures.
On this particular day, Katarina’s guest was David Turner of Avina Wine Accessories. Originally from England, David now lives the good life in Valencia, Spain, where he spends his days solving technical problems that drive wine lovers crazy. During the chat he explained that frustration with poorly made wine tools drove him to create better, more durable ones. In his words, “The enjoyment of a relaxing glass of wine at the end of a hard week was always diminished by the frustration of an opened bottle spilling wine all over the refrigerator, or a corkscrew falling to pieces as pins and screws fell apart while opening your favorite bottle.”
So he set out to develop a new array of wine tools built with quality craftsmanship, innovative design, and superior functionality. As David spoke I reflected on my own wine mishaps brought on by feeble corkscrews and ineffective bottle stoppers. His approach – to build a better set of tools by first solving the problems inherent in existing designs – made sense to me. In fact, it reminded me of the philosophy behind the Breville line of kitchen electronics. If you’ve read my blog before, you know how much I love their products. Why? Because each one has an innovative design that solves a common problem. In short, they work, they’re easy to use, and they last. (The automatic tea maker is life-changing.)
That’s what David has brought to the market with Avina Wine Accessories: robust tools forged from high-quality materials that do what they’re supposed to do. And they look pretty good, too! Toward the end of the chat, Katarina announced that she and David would randomly select one of the participants to receive a set of Avina Wine tools. Guess who won? Woo-hoo!
For my prize, I opted for the Rhino set, which included a wine opener and a bottle stopper. A few days later, it was at my door and I wasted no time in putting it to work. I was very eager to see if the Rhino lived up to everything I was expecting. And this girl was expecting a lot: I’ve tried just about every wine opener out there, from the cheap plastic versions to the ostentatious, wall-mounted levers that make your opened wine bottle look like an accident from the assembly line. There’s a reason I’ve hoarded two sturdy waiter’s corkscrews left over from my wine selling days: nothing else works as reliably. But they’ve been with me for 15 years and even they will fail at some point.
It’s heavy – in a good way. Right away I can tell this is no promotional give-away from the wine store. The fine craftsmanship is evident in the materials (ebony and stainless steel) and as I open it up, all the pieces move easily.
Probably my number one complaint about typical corkscrews is a feckless foil cutter, one that couldn’t slice through melted butter. Why even put it in there? Drives me nuts! The Avina Rhino sports a curved blade making it easier to slice around the neck of the bottle, which is – get this – curved. And it bites right through the foil in one clean cut. No sharp, ragged edges. Ah, the genius of simplicity!
You know how a typical corkscrew worm wiggles back and forth when you push it into the cork? And how many times has a plastic cork proved stronger than one of those weaklings, breaking off the worm, and transforming your unopened wine bottle into a lethal weapon? It’ll never happen with the Rhino – a groove running the length of the worm keeps plastic corks from sticking, and the construction is as solid as a rock. I’m pretty sure you could use this thing to tap the syrup out of a sugar maple.
My hands aren’t as strong as they used to be and sometimes I struggle to extract the cork from the bottle. A dual-hinged lever helps enormously with that, especially when all the pieces move smoothly. After opening my first bottle with the Rhino I thought – this opener works hard so I don’t have to. Isn’t that the whole point?
All products come with a “You Break It, We Replace It” lifetime guarantee. Just register your purchase on Avina’s website and you’re covered. Although I think you’d really have to heap some abuse on one of these things to break it.
Yes, this corkscrew lives up to all the hype. Its design addresses all the failings of typical wine openers and solves them. But did I mention how pretty it is? The dark ebony wood and the polished stainless steel give this tool a very high-end look. It would be right at home in a fancy cellar, sitting next to a stash of Chateau Petrus. Yet it costs only $26.99, a price that includes one of Avina’s new bottle stoppers. What a great gift for the wine lovers on your list! I put the bottle stopper to the test, as well. It passed with flying colors, as you can see in the video:
If you’re tired of using milquetoast wine tools that fall apart, crumble corks, and require herculean strength to operate, do yourself a favor and check out the full array of options offered by Avina Wine Accessories. They truly do have something for everyone.
Big thanks again to David Turner of Avina Wine Accessories and Katarina Andersson of Wines of Italy Livestream for the chance to try these innovative wine necessities. Turns out it was my lucky day after all!
Coming soon: Winning! Part Two: Luigi Bormioli Wine Glasses