Archives for 

product review

A Perfect Gift For Wine Lovers

The SkyBar One Wine System

The SkyBar One Wine System

Finding the perfect gift for wine lovers is just a click away. The SkyBar One Wine system will help round out a wine lovers accessory collection. Just like an wine aficionado wants the right glass for their favorite wine, they also delight in having the right way to serve their wine. I was skeptical when I was first asked to review this nifty contraption, but after a week of using it, I’m a believer.

When I read the SkyBar One product info, I was unsure about receiving one of these wine systems for review. The device is meant to chill, pour, preserve and display your wine for up to 10 days. Frankly, there’s rarely leftover wine in my home to preserve. And if there is, I simply use a hand pump to vacuum the air out, and throw the bottle in my fridge. Why do I need something that, on sale, is $350, to do what a $20 device does? I almost declined the sample to review. However, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to see if this is truly a device a wine lover needs or not, and share my honest opinion.  I can honestly say I would love to be given the SkyBar One Wine System as a gift.

My first impression of the SkyBar One Wine System was not exactly the best. The box is a bit big, and the device stands 18 inches high by 8 inches wide and 12 inches deep. I have a tiny 1940s wood home, and extra space is at a premium. However, Robin said to set it on the side of my desk – as it looked quite handsome there. While setting up the SkyBar One Wine System, I felt some of the parts were a bit light, and hoped I wouldn’t break them. They weren’t flimsy, just not very hefty. I set up the system in about 10 minutes, and was ready to give it a run for it’s money.

Set The SkyBar One Wine System temperature by wine type

Set The SkyBar One Wine System temperature by wine type

The on-board computer and digital display are awesome on the SkyBar One Wine System. I love how easy it was to set the perfect temperature for my wine. It allowed me to select by wine type, or I could have set it to my preferred serving temperaturate manually. I did not wait around to see how long it took for my 75 degree bottle of wine from the grocery store took to get to the recommended 65 degrees for Cabernet Sauvignon. I ran some errands, and when I was back home a few hours later, the wine was ready to pour.

Setting my Cabernet Sauvignon to 65 degrees

Setting my Cabernet Sauvignon to 65 degrees

Testing the preservation of wine with a hand pump versus SkyBar One Wine System

Testing the preservation of wine with a hand pump versus SkyBar One Wine System

I decided to test the SkyBar One Wine System side by side with my $12 pump, and see how the wine stood up after a week. I bought two bottles of St. Supery Cabernet Sauvignon, to taste them side by side for 5 days and see if one bottle was better preserved than the other. There were some very interesting results.

Typically, we never allow a bottle of wine to sit open, pumped or not, for more than 24 hours. I find the taste of the wine degrades rather significantly, except in a few instances. To keep tasting a bottle pumped for a week was indeed going to be a challenge. On day one, the wines taste exactly the same, though the SkyBar One had the wine at a perfect 65 degrees, while my control bottle was much warmer. I pumped the control bottle and placed it in the fridge. Keeping it cool should stop the aging and oxidation process, holding the taste consistent for the test. Day two, however, had different results.

When the wine comes out of the fridge to test on the next day, it’s about 42 degrees, way too cold for red or white wine to drink. I let it sit out in the glass for about 20 minutes to warm, while I tested the SkyBar One wine. It was perfect, tasting exactly as it should and did on day one. Once the control glass warmed, I tasted it and while it was fine, there was definitely a little less oomph to the glass. On to day three, four and five.

The SkyBar One Wine System on my desk

The SkyBar One Wine System on my desk

I will spare you the process, and get down to the nitty gritty results of the SkyBar One Wine System versus the hand pump for preservation. Hands down, the SkyBar One rocked. The flavor of the control bottle was strained by day three, and by day four, I poured out the remaining half of the $26 bottle of wine. It was just done. However, on day five, the wine in the SkyBar One Wine System was still absolutely perfect to drink. I’m actually sipping on some now. I’ve gone through about half the bottle, as the pour system is very precise, allowing me to pour just a little bit each time. Aside from perfect serving temperature and longer preservation of wine, there are some great features of the wine system, as well as some drawbacks.

The Skybar One Wine System chills and preserves your wine, making it a perfect gift

The Skybar One Wine System chills and preserves your wine, making it a perfect gift

The SkyBar One Wine System not only can store your wine at the perfect temperature for serving, it makes it very easy to serve. Simply unlock the vacuum seal, press the pour button and you have a steady stream of wine to pour a taste, or a glass. The same on board computer that sets the temperature also ensures that your wine is vacuum sealed, even if you forget to click the PRESERVE button after serving. I know, because I forgot! There is also a filter on the end of the tube that draws the wine, meant to keep sediment out of your glass, and in the bottle. All great features for this fantastic device.

The drawbacks are few, but there. First, it only fits standard, 750ml wine bottles. This would be absolutely AMAZING if it fit the 1.5L magnum bottles. I would LOVE to be able to buy a few high end magnums and pour sips over the next 10 days for friends and family. Additionally, the device is meant to house standard, cork sealed bottles. While they offer an attachment for wine bottles that are screw-cap, they do not guarantee it will work with all bottles. However, there are few screw cap bottles of wine I want to keep around for 10 days, so I don’t see that as an issue.

You can find the Skybar One Wine System online, and at select retailers. Any wine loving recipient would be happy to receive this great device as a gift! Happy Holidays!

Is this wine refrigerator for you

New Air 12 bottle wine fridge

New Air 12 bottle wine fridge

When the good folks at Air and Water Inc asked me to review a wine refrigerator, I was very hesitant. I wanted to be sure that if I was not crazy about the unit, I could pass on the review. Instead, they were so confident that I’d be satisfied with the 12 bottle wine refrigerator they sent me, they told me to simply write honestly, regardless of my opinion. I admired that, and agreed, especially since I have friends asking me to recommend wine storage units all the time. This compact unit fit on my kitchen counter, which is a huge feat in a tiny house from 1940. The video below gives you nearly everything you need to know about the wine refrigerator and if it’s the right unit for you.

This unit may not be not the cheapest 12 bottle wine cooler you’ll find online, though that should NOT be your main criteria for buying a unit like this. The wine refrigerator I reviewed costs $159.99 from Air and Water, with a $30 price break right now making it $129.99. Additionally, using the code GOODTIME will help you save 10% if you decide to purchase the unit. The $30 price break has been online for about three weeks now, and an email from their marketing department stated the price for the unit is $129.99. As always, buyer beware, so check the price before you order.  I also checked the Better Business Bureau, and they are a BBB A rated company, and have been in business since 2001.

I liked the look of the unit, black with a stainless steel front. The temperature controls are simple enough, with an up and down button and a digital readout. I can’t vouch for their construction, and whether or not they’ll be able to go the distance. However, I recommend setting the unit at 55 degrees and leaving the controls alone.  Using multiple thermometers, I concluded that the temperature outside read 55 degrees while inside it read 51 degrees. Being a few degrees off won’t be detrimental to your wine, as this cooler is really meant for storing wine for serving, not long term storage. There was little to no vibration, and the fan was relatively quiet. Perhaps a little louder than a computer fan.

If you’re looking for a wine refrigerator, this may work for you. Again, I wouldn’t recommend it for long term storage for a variety of reasons. First, there’s no way to control the humidity, which is important for long term wine storage. Additionally, for long term storage I would want to be sure the temperature was at a constant 55 degrees with little to no chance for fluctuation. As the video noted, there was a quite a variation in temperature during my demonstration.  However, if you are looking to keep wine on hand, whether to get and keep it it at serving temperature for a party, or to always have a bottle ready to go when company pops over, then a wine refrigerator like this is perfect.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns, feel free to ask them below. I’m quick to reply to comments, and appreciate them greatly. I threw out a lot of concepts at the end of this post, including temperature, vibration, long term storage. I’ll have to follow up, soon, with why those matter to your wine.