My philosophy regarding wine gadgets has always been simple. They cost money (better
spent on wine itself). They take up cupboard space (always at a premium). My simple waiter's
corkscrew and my Vacu Vin are pretty much it. I do own several decanters, but no matter
how much I believe in “giving red wines some air,” I usually use the decanters
only when I have a sediment issue, or when I have guests and know I can account for an
entire bottle of wine. Home alone, I let the wine take on air in the glass, when and if I can
wait. Decanting would be better, but some air is better than none, and no washing is better
than even a little.
Envision this scenario. Seven o'clock rolls around. I have no wine open. I am not even
planning on drinking wine that evening. I settle in front of the television, turn on
Jeopardy, and I rock. Man, not one of those idiots got the Final Jeopardy
question. Of course it was “Who is Tolstoy?” Aren't they educated?
Now I want to open that wine, if anything just to calm myself down after my triumph.
I want my wine, and I cannot wait until the yawning hour of nine. Not to worry, I have my
If I am going to acquire a gadget, let it be Italian. I seem to be in love with anything Italian:
the wine and food, of course, the language as it glides off my tongue, but, as a teenager, I
was so taken with the Italian actress Monica Vitti from Michelangelo Antonioni's film Red
Desert that I later married a woman named Monica, and then, after being divorced,
married another woman named Monica. I am again single. You Monicas out there, beware.
But I digress. The Centellino (chen-tel-LEE-no) is nicely designed to initiate the oxidation
process in a wine, enabling texture and opening up aroma and flavor, all the while providing
the perfect 100ml pour. You tilt the bottle one way first, filling up a glass bulb. The wine
opens up as it spreads along the sides of the bulb. You then turn the bottle to fill your glass
using a spout at the other end of the device, adding further oxygen in the process.
It is true that you do not have to give much air to a lighter red like a Pinot Noir or a
Beaujolais, but why be forced down that road if you crave a big red wine, just because you
forgot to decant? The sudden craving for a white wine brings a similar paradox, that of
forgetting to chill in advance. Fear not; gadgets exist for this purpose as well. (It is never a
good idea to keep white wines in the refrigerator over long periods of time “just in
My first test of the Centellino, on a 2004 Shingleback D Block Reserve McLaren Vale Cab,
was confounded by the fact that the Cab tasted fairly accessible in my sample pour right out
of the bottle, yet I must report that two glasses of the Cab went down rather smoothly (and
inordinately quickly). This Cab was big on fruit but not particularly tannic, leaving a need for
further testing, but I felt that the Centellino was doing its part to soften that in-your-face fruit.
I stress the word “felt.” Any test that involves swallowing wine is not
scientific from the outset, and becomes less so as it progresses. But maybe this is not so. If a
wine is tight, if a wine wants to fight, one would expect the consumption level to be
restrained, hardly the case here.
Moving on to one of the biggest wines on my shelves, a 2003 Tenuta Angela Aglianico del
Vulture, the Centellinoed glass brought tangibly greater fruit and spice to the nose, more
accessible and less astringent tannins to the mouth, and finished slightly longer. Again, the
wine passed my newly-discovered “drink-through” test. I would say something
right was going on.
My third run-through occurred with a 2005 Casa Gran del Siurana Priorat Gran Cruor, a
deeply extracted Spanish wine with formidable tannins. Here we (another soul was on hand to
warm my evening) both remarked on the Centellino's tangible effect, compared to an unaired
test sample, in the areas of aroma, flavor and texture.
In none of these cases did I compare the Centellinoed wine with decanted wine, but that is
not the point. When two people who like each other get together and one thing leads to
another, one of them sometimes wishes he had taken a certain popular medication an hour or
so previously. The couple must now spend an hour waiting, playing Scrabble, discussing
current events, or what have you. I would be hard put to advise such a couple, unless they
decide that wine is a better course. In that case, the Centellino obviates the need for advance
planning, often the worst sort of mood killer. The Centillino requires no prescription, and is
distributed in the US by
Fiorino Italian Imports.
A very handy device for those who cannot wait