La Flute Wine Opener
If there’s one thing that Clifford excels at, it’s winning Instagram contests. Fun fact – this is how he got his first pair of Mighty Melanin Multi Ethnic Shorts ™, by bombarding Instagram with contest entries until the prize was finally his. He is ruthless when he wants to win. When that dude, @onceuponawine_ posted a La Flute giveaway on his Instagram, Clifford made witty comment after witty comment over a period of several hours. Finally he said something comparing the wine opener’s ingenuity to that of In The Kitchen With David™ on QVC, and they just had to award him the prize: a La Flute of our very own.
It comes in a very fancy genuine wood box, which is most useful for storing the wine opener. Inside there are two hinged jigsaw pieces meant to be stood upright for displaying La Flute, along with your bottle of wine. This application is perilous at best (don’t use this as a bottle display thingy unless the bottle is still sealed). There are some instructions, but they’re a little hard to understand because there seems to be a mix-up about what the “top” of the opener is. It seemed to refer to both the foot and the bowl of the glass shape, but let’s be honest, I’ve been drinking, so it might be me. (It wasn’t.)
So basically, you jam the opener onto the top of the bottle and then twist it around a bit to cut the foil. This generates a hideous nails-on-chalkboard sound, but you just grit your teeth and ignore it. At this point, you might want to pull out the foil top so it doesn’t get stuck in there, ’cause it hella will.
Sometimes it ends up behind the stabby cork holder thingies, and sometimes it completely breaks up inside there and get stuck in the top of the bowl in the threading behind the corkscrew.
Once you’re done with the foil cap, you screw the base of the wine glass down so the corkscrew screws into the cork. This is one area that could really, really benefit from a small adjustment – if there were a rubberized sleeve or if it were dipped in rubberized material, or if it gave you some kind of leverage you could grip it a lot better. As it is, it gets a little painful if you’re doing more than one bottle.
Next, you spin the bowl of the “glass” around until the base has come back up and the cork pops out with it. This part is a little tricky because you have to be smarter than the wine opener and turn it in the correct direction. Otherwise you just unscrew the corkscrew from the cork, and you’re left with a pierced cork that you then have to try to re-screw. Mess up more than once, and you’ll have a hard time getting enough grip in the decimated cork to be able to get it out. So don’t mess up.
Once the cork is pulled all the way out, you can screw the base back out and in again to release the cork. Then you can risk your delicate fingers by digging the rest of the foil out and trying to get all the cork out of the inside if you didn’t already pull it out, remembering that the inside of the bowl is fitted with those super sharp hooks that cut the foil in step 1. Be careful.
We’ve taken this guy on the road with us and had at least three other people give it a try. In the end, we are almost always successful, but some efforts take longer than others. Our two unsuccessful attempts involved bottles from 2007 & 2010 – the corkscrew cored out most of the center of the cork, and we had to use the ah-so to get the rest out. So like many corkscrews, this probably isn’t the right choice for older, more fragile corks.
Among those we had try it out, the consensus seemed to be:
- Huh, it works. I’m not sure of any technical advantage, though
- Why would I buy this
- This does not seem easier
- My hands hurt
In terms of technical advantage, I guess the packaging says it’s designed not to pierce all the way through the cork, so you don’t get cork shards in your wine. That’s not usually a huge problem for us. The difficulty in operation doesn’t inspire you to keep practicing, unfortunately, and it’s really hard to get foil out if it gets trapped way up inside it. Putting your finger in there is like putting it into a crocodile’s mouth. And over time (two weeks), the foil cutters got dull and cutting the foil with the opener became impracticable, so now we’re doing that part the old fashioned way.
Overall, we enjoyed playing with the La Flute, and you could use it as your everyday wine opener if you wanted to. We probably won’t, but it will definitely stay in rotation, and we do so enjoy bringing it to people’s houses and watching them try to figure it out without instructions. Recommended for cuteness, the incredible workmanship of that box, and the evil joy of mysterious challenges making it hard for people to get into the wine. Minor drawbacks: razor sharp jaws, metal on glass shrieking. It would be a great gift for that wine snob in your life. God knows they will hate any bottle you bring over.
The Hella 5 Star System
We have adopted the opinion that fine art, music, wine, cigars, and other comestibles are governed by a unifying principle, which is that the intention of the artist matters. Art can be judged by the patron only as it pertains to the emotive and inductive properties of that art. We think Winemakers and Torcedors are artists.
Here at Hella Wine, we cut our wine-rating teeth on the wildly popular wine app Vivino. Vivino has an integrated five-star system for rating wine, but no standardized rubric to go with it, so we had to define what the star ratings actually mean, and we did so in a very personal way. This system takes into account: price, aesthetics, situational variables, relationships, and any other completely biased information we can come up with. This makes our system predictably emotional, and ratings change from glass to glass, even possibly from the same bottle.
Without further ado, our 5 star rating system revealed
I wont drink/smoke this even if you buy it!
I would drink a glass of this or smoke 1 if you bought it, but I would not order this for myself.
I would buy a glass/one cigar and enjoy it.
I would buy a bottle/5pack of this and really enjoy it.
I'd buy a case/box of this because I just love it.
The Hella 50 to 100 System
We also will usually apply the commonly used 50-100 point scale to our ratings. This tasting format, familiar from the annals of the indelible Robert Parker and Wine Spectator Magazine, does not take price or my ability to afford the wine in question into account. The situation that the drink or cigar was tasted in does not matter. This scale only reflects the quality of the wine/cigar in relation to other wines/cigars we have tasted.
You may loosely infer from this rating:
96-100: A hella amazing wine/cigar of super bold complex character displaying the attributes we hella want to find in the best wines in the world. Wines like this are hella awesome.
90 - 95: An amazing wine/cigar with hella character. Wonderful stuff, we feel lucky to try these.
80 - 89: A hella good wine/cigar, no noticeable flaws but it's just good/okay.
70 - 79: Hella basic, not so memorable wine/cigar. It's good, but just missing that something that makes it hella good, or even special.
60 - 69: Something bad happened in this wine/cigars life. Maybe it got left in a car and cooked, or maybe it sucked to begin with. All we know is we hella don't really want to finish it. Sometimes you gotta take one for the team.
50 - 59: This wine/cigar hella sucks.