In 2011, I attended the Ambiente housewares show in Frankfurt, Germany, and, while browsing the booths, came upon an interesting wine chiller called Wine Sceptre. Invented by a restaurateur in Europe, the idea is to put this decorative stainless steel sceptre in the freezer to make it very cold, then place the sceptre in an already cooled wine bottle. The purpose of the sceptre is not to chill the wine, but simply provide a unique means to hold a desired temperature. The product, while clever and inventive, is very expensive due to its decorative stainless steel body, complete with stylish cap designs and satin lined storage case.
While I found the product fascinating, I doubted that it would ever reach our fair shores and even if it did, would be unlikely to find success due to the $120+ price tag.
Fast forward to March 2012 and the International Home and Housewares Show (IHHS) in Chicago. Like any member of the media, the weeks leading up to the show are replete with emails and phone calls from marketing and PR teams representing manufacturers who will be attending IHHS. The amount of information that floods in can be overwhelming and if I were to attempt to visit all these fine companies at the show, it would require me to spend no more than a few minutes at each booth. Sometimes however, a product or company will stick out and force me to take notice; such was the case with a company called Corkcicle. Why did they jump out of the hundreds of emails? Their product is a wine chiller in the style of the Wine Sceptre and I was curious to learn more about them.
Corkcicle held a special press event in front of their booth to demonstrate their product. All who attended the presentation received a free Corkcicle to use and never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I accepted the product and have been using it this summer.
What is Corkcicle?
The Corkcicle wine chiller is in shape and form the same as the Wine Sceptre – though lacking a pouring spout function – but made from more affordable materials. It is made of a plastic body filled with food grade “freeze gel” and topped with an actual cork. It is 12″ in height so that it can reach nearly to the bottom of a wine bottle.
Why would you want to use Corkcicle or even the Wine Sceptre? Ice buckets don’t hold the chill, but actually lower the temperature of the wine too much. The terracotta or marble containers, and even the wine sleeves, don’t do a very good job maintaining wine at the correct temperature. Hence the concept of inserting frozen material into the bottle to directly affect the wine temperature but not lower it: it works from the inside to combat the ambient room or outside air temperature.
How to Use
The instructions are short and simple. First, remember that Corkcicle – and Wine Sceptre – is not designed to chill a bottle of wine, only maintain a set temperature. Second, make sure the Corkcicle has been in the freezer for at least 2 hours prior to use. I keep mine in the freezer all the time so it is ready to go at a moments notice. Next, chill the wine to the proper temperature and when ready to serve, pull the Corkcicle from the freezer and insert it inside the open bottle. If you haven’t poured out a glass or taste, you might want to pour out just a sip’s worth of wine to avoid potential overflow.
When you pour the wine from the bottle, simply pull the Corkcicle from the bottle, leaving the tip of it just inside the bottle and pour the wine into the glass [see the video below]. You can of course remove it completely from the bottle, but it will drip wine from the tip. If you attempt the latter operation, hold the Corkcicle over the glass so at least you don’t waste any precious wine.
How long will it hold the wine temperature? The company has charts on its web site that depict it holding a steady temperature for 45 minutes, which is longer than most meals last, but in my experiments I found that it can hold a steady temperature for at least twice that amount of time.
The pictures below show the temperature of a bottle of rose wine in Celsius that changed by only 1 degree Celsius over the course of 90 minutes at a dinner eaten outside. The wine started at 12° C (~53° F) and after an hour and a half it was up to 13° C (55° F). The outside temperature for that meal was in the low 80s.
I have found that air temperatures in the 70s or low 80s produced the similar results. When the ambient air temperature is much higher, like the upper 80s or 90s, then you will see a higher increase in the wine temperature, but should still get 45 minutes of steady even temperature which is pretty impressive. A wine bottle sitting in the direct sun will also be affected more than one indoors or in a covered location.
The Corkcicle isn’t only for white or rose wines, it would accomplish the same feat with a red wine as well. Again, it is designed to maintain a temperature; the device could care less about the color or type of wine.
Just to say that I tried it, I placed the frozen Corkcicle inside a bottle of red wine that had a temperature of 72° F to see what it would do. After leaving it in the bottle for 15-20 minutes, the temperature had dropped to 68° F. It maintained that temperature for another 30 minutes before I saw a noticeable increase in wine temperature. For this latter experiment, the ambient air in the dining room was 78° F. In general, I have found that the Corkcicle was able to lower the wine temperature around 2-5°. What this demonstrates is that is what I mentioned before, it can’t put a proper chill on the wine, but it will do exactly what it is designed to do, hold it steady.
It should also go without saying that the device will only work with one bottle at a time, so if you open additional bottles of wine you would need more frozen Corkcicles to keep those cool.
Clean up is easy. Wash and rinse it in sink, dry it completely and put it back in the freezer.
In the end, I am pretty impressed with how the Corkcicle did exactly what it says it will do. You can’t ask more than that from any product and at a price of $23 to $30 it is much more affordable than the Wine Sceptre.
Video from Corkcicle:
*Note – I am aware that the Wine Sceptre was available for sale on HSN in the USA branded as the Todd English Winesceptre Ultimate Wine Cooling System. I assume that Chef English made arrangements to market the product from the German company under his name. At the time of this writing, this product was out of stock. Whether this is a short term supply issue or indicates the product was a one time offer on HSN, I can’t say.
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