Thursday, September 14, 2006

Wine Tools 101

Ok, back into the closet and the kitchen cabinet, and I don't mean Kabinett here.. I used to collect old wine tools and accessories as avidly as I now blog. I was on Ebay everyday looking for stuff to paint that was wine related. Or so I told myself..I was definitely going to paint all these chatchkes...hmmm..
Most of them came from the UK, Italy or Netherlands - anywhere but the US. So another fun aspect - strange packages arrive covered in foreign postage.

These are 2 taste vins I collected. The goldie color is unusual. Usually they're silver, the better to see the true color of the wine and check for sediment in the wine. Something like the picture of the wine glass being held against the white paper.
Wine is not just about drinking but about describing wine's colors, aromas, flavors, "legs", on and on. A lot of chatting goes on among wine lovers. That's what makes it such a socialable activity, unlike chocolate you want to keep to yourself. One wine bottle can make 4-5 people very happy. One chocolate bar - it's not the same thing.

When you visit Burgundy wine tasting houses (Marché aux Vins) particularly Beaune, they give you a tastevin to keep instead of a glass. They're not silver of course, but it's fun to bring home a souvenir. The tastevin is traditionally Burgundian. You won't see them in other parts of France.

These sketches are from my crystal decanter period. If you're a regular on ebay, you're bound to go through phases. I used to covet beautiful decanters, often from Ireland or the UK. They're not cheap either... I've got a decanter that looks like a duck - the beak opens and out pours the wine. When I grew tired of all these wine accessories I didn't take them back to ebay, but out to 33rd street, where other collectors can find them.

I went through a period collecting corkscrews, till I realized they were out of my range..well the ones I liked.

Everyone has at least one funny Ebay story. I fell for these small wooden wine pitchers - so paintable. I bought this from I don't know where. When I saw another from a Netherlands dealer, I bought it thinking it would make a nice companion.

I waited and waited but no pitcher. I contacted the dealer, he searched and found it had been returned to his post office. Out it went again. I was patient but after another 2 months, I contacted him. He was terribly apologetic and gave me my money back. End of story.

Six months later, it turned up on my doorstep. But this was no small wine pitcher. Who knows what they poured out of this? I contacted the dealer,"could I repay him"? Though it was much bigger than I'd imagined? He laughed and said, “just keep it!”Note the tall Bordeaux red umbrella within - I got that at Fete de la Fleure. You can not imagine the wine stuff there is to collect for potential still life painters or wine lovers. The wine industry is so mechanized these days. Most wineries will blind you with all their shiny high-tech equipment. The days of glass bungs, tire bouchon (corkscrews), wooden wine keys, etc. are gone and forgotten. Except for avid collectors on ebay up at dawn waiting to get their bids in.
*To look at this old stuff, I recommend a visit to the Musée du Vin in Paris. They have wine tools and tableaux (wine making scenes) stashed away in an old wine cellar in the 16th ème. The musée has a sweet little restaurant
too, where you can get a nice flight of wines with your lunch. It's never very crowded when I visited. Not like the Louvre!


  1. SUCH FUN STUFF to collect and draw!!! I can't IMAGINE so much involved in wine!

  2. Anonymous12:52 PM

    I get my daily learning doze at your blog :-)
    Where do you keep all your collections?????

  3. Anonymous1:53 PM

    I love how you throw yourself into whatever you do! I'm a passionate person, too, so I recognize another one when I see her! Amazing stuff, Ms PB!

  4. I love this post! your drawings!I love them! It looks you are having a great time in France! Do you come to La Rochelle by chance?

  5. I have never had so much fun waiting and watching someone clean out closets. Hans Christian Anderson would surely have loved to have written a story about you.The Woman and the Closet
    This years's academy award for best written Blog go to..........You got it hands down!

  6. Anonymous4:48 AM

    I cracked up at the pitcher. It makes a great umbrella holder.

  7. French wine a day is going to love you too!!


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