The last time I read of the word sceptre, I think it was referenced in a Tintin comic. So rare today is this bejewelled accessory of yore that even the mentions are jaded. And then, when Ashish Bhasin, a vibrant young entrepreneur and inventor of all things-useful-yet-at-first-bizarre, handed me one, I didn’t know what to make of it. I didn’t wish to look unintelligent what with my repute in the wine world. What repute, you ask? Sadly, I concur.
But, truth be told, I had no idea what it did, and how. Or why. All I knew was that I was holding a reasonably heavy sceptre-shaped stainless steel rod with three wide slits at the upper end of a solid seamless body, topped by a rubber closure and a very ornate grape bunch as the headpiece.
“So what does this do?”
“It is used to maintain wine temperature.” The response was swift. Almost too swift for me, for I was still trying to fathom, exactly how!
“…I knew that.” I stuttered, softly, rather unconvincingly.
“You, see the stainless tube is filled with a special liquid coolant, hermetically sealed, and once frozen, it can be inserted into the wine, plugged in tight and used to serve wine.”
That is what the slits on the top were for…aah! And the grape headpiece neatly slid to one side to reveal an opening to let the wine out. Earlier I was merely curiously excited, now I was beginning to be impressed. But the skeptic of years in me wouldn’t let anyone have the better of me so easily. “How long do you need to cool it? How long does it stay cool? Isn’t it open to contamination? What about its life? What if the coolant leaks?”
Ashish had come prepared. “Three hours on the first go, else and hour and a half of cooling is fine. Holds a white wine at stable temperature for upto an hour, which is more than enough for us to consume it.” There were no visible joints on the tube part of the sceptre so coolant leakage wasn’t a major possibility. And once frozen, it was well cool to not let bacteria and the likes inhabit on it freely. Surgical stainless steel shaft.
I still wasn’t convinced entirely. So what if royal families across the Middle East have gotten one cased in pure gold and bedecked with precious stones and jewels, so what if all the biggest of hotels in Dubai have it, I still needed my evidence. Ashish allowed me one to use the next morning itself and after a meagre period of about an hour in the fridge, the stick looked well “icicled”.
Into the wine it went, and held decently for an easy part of an hour. This was a marvellous little device. Ashish probably already knew this, which is why he had cleverly had the technology patented. The royal families spoken of earlier had all sourced theirs from him. Wow! Revelations. Learnings. Chilled white wines even on a picnic. Life was good again.
Pros and Cons of the Wine Sceptre:
- No better a way to display a wine being consumed. Those who like to show just how good they have it will be happy to knowthat their prized vintage bubblies (think Dom and Cristal) no longer hide surreptitiously in wine buckets. Instead they can display them proudly on the dinner table, what their shiny steel shafts.
- No more messy wet labels.
- No more strain of ice being used up to chill wine instead of using in drinks and cocktails.
- Great handy and nifty little piece, easy to carry, especially when outdoors and away from an ice machine. Al Fresco!
- Pure novelty of serving wine out of a magnificent looking old school royal rod, with some apt bling to match. The slide-off cover is really cool, like West-Coast-rap-artist cool.
- No need to wipe the wet bottles upon removing from a wine bucket. Which means, guests can now help themselves if the waiter isn’t around, or if they prefer to enjoy the wine in reserve and quiet.
- Great for Private Dining Rooms, boardrooms, high-profile meetings.
- Perfect for select gifting.
- This is India. People may not be open to having a foreign object inserted into their wine.
- One glass of wine has to be removed from the bottle in order to accommodate for the shaft. Weight displacement, Eureka!, Archimedes’ Principle ,et al. You miss this little detail and it’s a pretty little white wine table fountain you will be in for.
- Cleanliness and hygiene issues may be a consideration as hotels will have to exercise utmost caution to not allow for any contamination; even if the rod is free from bacteria, it shouldn’t be allowed to capture foreign smells or taints. (Being stainless sure helps in protecting against such.)
- Difficult to use with odd bottle forms (stout, or wide or curved), as also with half bottles.
- Only for whites and rosés, mostly. Can be used with reds but due to lack of a temperature gauge, may not be most precise.
- Fine dining places in India may cast a suspicious eye upon such contraption, preferring to wipe and pour, even if just so to look busier than they actually are.
So, the verdict: I think it is a pretty useful device. Tropical heat could pose a problem but if it has handled Dubai, it can handle Delhi. Else, drink faster! Hotel or home use, eventually, it will all boil down to price and affordability. I’ll be using this for the next few tastings and will keep posting my observations. If any of you have a prized wine and would like to uncork it in my presence and have it personally chilled by me, you know where to find me. Heh heh heh…