Dept. of “What were they thinking?”
I know, I have curmudgeonly tendencies. Hell, not even I take all my complaints seriously. But when it comes to those hard, plastic closures that are meant to look like fancy wax — and baby, I’m namin’ names — I see red, hit the roof, spit bullets — name your metaphor for frustrated anger.
These monstrosities started showing up a couple years ago. I couldn’t tell you the name of the technology, or if all the examples in this post are from the same manufacturer; but I lump them all together as “marketing ideas from hell.” As Sarah Palin might have put it, “Hey, let’s put something fancy-pants on the bottle, so’s we can charge another fifteen bucks, you betcha!” What that person needed — and apparently didn’t get — was the reality check of somebody else asking, “But can they really be opened without risking losing a finger or gouging the center of your palm with the corkscrew.”
Here are the latest 3 culprits. (There was also a Caymus a while back that got me so angry, I told the winery not to send me any more. But we’ve since kissed and made up.)
Westbrook Wine Farm “Fait Accompli”
This is the Fait Accompli 2005 red wine from Westbrook. See that little piece sticking out from the middle of the capsule? That’s where I stuck the corkscrew in. After much twisting and pushing, it finally bit into the cork and went down, but it took a lot of tsouris, if you know what I mean. Then, there was no way to find the bottle’s lip, meaning no place to lever the hook to pull the cork. Eventually, I gave up.
Here’s Audelssa’s 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Note the gouges and tears. When I encountered the same hassle as with the Fait Accompli, I tried to cut through the side of the capsule with a knife. That lasted for about 5 seconds until I realized my fingers were at risk of getting cut. Nor is the capsule capable of being manually peeled off. It just splinters into nasty little pieces that get all over the counter.
This was V. Sattui’s 2006 Reserve Stock Chardonnay. In some ways, it was the worst of all. See all those deformations on top? That wasn’t caused by me — it came that way. The capsule was as hard as rock. I couldn’t even penetrate it with a corkscrew. At one point I was knocking it against the side of the sink, hoping to loosen it, like the cap on a jar, but not even that worked. After a while, I thought, Wait a minute. Nobody should have to work this hard to open a bottle — not even a critic.
I complained to all the wineries in question. This response, from Westbrook, was typical: “A little warm water renders it as butter. Holding a short blade (side, not tip) horizontally and turning the bottle works best. If this still doesn’t work, let us know.”
Well, Westbrook and everybody else, I’m letting you know. What were you thinking? With all the challenges wine has in overcoming consumer fear and intimidation, now you’re telling people it’s easy as shucking clams? Give me a break.