The $7 Wine Accessory I Bought Immediately After a Trip to Spain
They say there’s nothing new under the sun. And that often feels true. Which makes it that much more marvelous when you see something that is absolutely brilliant and whose existence you never dreamed of.
I give you: the Vacu Vin Active Wine Cooler.
OK, apparently this was not a secret to most people, but hey, I live in bourbon country, not wine country. So when I saw a bottle of white wine keeping cool in the sun on a table in the Basque country thanks to one of these clever sleeves, I was gobsmacked. It’s such a small thing — just a cooling wrap, sort of like a wine bottle-sized cozy with gel packs in the walls — with such a big impact.
Think of a perfectly chilled bottle of crisp, white wine, and the pleasure your first sip brings. Now think of a room temperature or even lukewarm white wine. Blech. I mean, it’s better than NO wine, but I’ve been known to chill wine with ice cubes rather than drink it warm. Where does that leave you at a picnic, or even lounging out back on your patio? (WARM WEATHER WILL RETURN! And even when you’re inside, no one wants to drink room-temp pinot gris!) Who wants to make repeated trips to the fridge to refill the glass, and bringing a cooler for a bottle of wine is a bit overkill, no?
Anyway, I’d gone my entire imbibing life unaware of such a thing. Then on a sunny afternoon outside San Sebastian, Spain, I visited a maker of the region’s wonderful, lightly sparkling white wine (Txakoli) while on an amazing day-long tour. The winemaker had a lovely spread on a picnic table with some snacks and wine, and I stopped short when I saw the little cooling cozy that contained the bottle of wine. What was this marvel!? I snapped a picture of it so I could remember to get one for myself.
The wrap worked like a charm. Though it was a blissfully sunny day, the wine was crisp and just cold enough. In the way that you do, I noticed the thing again and again the rest of the trip. I even found one in the freezer of our rental apartment when we got to Paris later in the trip.
So once I got home I immediately googled something like “freezer thing which you wrap around wine to keep it cold” and found this on Amazon. Yep, it was right there all along. I even found the exact same one I saw in Spain. Turns out, that one is technically meant for Champagne bottles and a wine version was a few dollars cheaper, so I went with that. You keep it in the freezer when it’s not in use and then you just slide it over your bottle when you go to twist off the cap or remove the cork. The gel inside the sleeve is cold, so it helps to keep the bottle cold, and the sleeve also provides insulation. When the bottle’s empty, just slide the sleeve off and stash it back in the freezer.
Now, every day can’t be a glorious day in Spain sipping sparkling wine all day. But hey, at least I can have my wine nice and cool — and think of that beautiful day every time I chill a bottle.