If you're living on a Two Buck Chuck expense account -- and let's face it, these days we all are -- but have a taste for a 20 buck Cabernet, then you might consider a new wine-aging gizmo on the market.
It's called the Perfect Sommelier and it ages wine in 30 minutes, rather than years, according to the folks behind TPS. While there are skeptics locally, it's drawing some praise and awe from wine experts like Anthony Dias Blue, Bon Appetit's wine editor, who used it on an Italian Brunello "known for being tight and unapproachable when young." (Brunellos start at $40.)
But the gizmo turned it around, he says.
"Don't ask me how it works, but it works," he says in a testimonial.
Makers of TPS say it works like this: Open a bottle of wine and replace it with a magnetic top. Then place the bottle on the magnetic coaster or base, which also is part of the kit.
Once this process -- which includes the creation of a magnetic field and traveling wine molecules -- is done, the wine reportedly is transformed. After 30 minutes, the bitterness from some of those budget bottles of wine should be gone.
Gregg Wilson of the Artisan Cellar in the Merchandise Mart asked one of his highfalutin wine collector customers, and the customer dismissed it.
"His thought was 'just drink something else if it's not ready.' "
Wilson, fine wines director at the store, says this isn't something you'd use on a 2005 Bordeaux, which isn't ready to open yet.
"But I'm not against it for casual wines that need a boost," he said.
He and others question the need for a product when the market is flush with good, inexpensive wines.
"For people who want to have a nice wine with their meals every day, even in the present economy there are tons of wines for under $10 -- and they're great wines -- that's great," said Gregory Fulham, a wine consultant with a bit of a cultlike following at Binny's Express in Hyde Park, 1531 E. 53rd St.
"For the guy who has to have everything, the latest bar, the latest corkscrew -- great. But in 10 years I want to know where they are. I can see the cart table at the yard sale right now," Fulham said.