I contacted Victorinox a while ago, asking whether they’d like one of their products reviewed. They were ever so kind—as one would expect from a company of their stature—and sent me TWO products.
One was the Wine Master.
It’s a beautiful tool. But there’s a problem. The Wine Master is a sophisticated wine bottle opener for cultured people.
I’m uncouth. Letting me review the Wine Master is like charging a rabid wild boar with the safekeeping of a set of fine China.
So I decided to place the Wine Master in a romantic setting, where it belongs. It’s safer there, than in my rough hands.
Romantic little tale
It’s late afternoon. The sun clings to a mountain, giving a long wink, as they saunter hand in hand down the beach. There’s no wind. Lazy waves glide onto the shore and coast back, an endless cycle of invites for toes to take a dip.
He’s carrying a large woven basket covered with a tartan blanket. The blue head of a bottle of Fattoria San Giuliano Moscato D’Asti peeks out from underneath the blanket.
When they’ve put enough distance between themselves and the nearest person, they stop and he puts down the basket.
Then he throws open the blanket and floats it down onto the sand.
He takes her hand, helps her down onto the blanket and plonks down opposite her.
He’s been waiting for this moment for a year, and now that it’s here, the excitement is sucking the moist and words from his throat.
He slides his sweaty left hand into his pants pocket and probes for the square box. It’s still there.
He had it all planned out. He’d pour them each a glass of wine, then drop the ring into her glass, hold it up high enough for her to see and propose. It was the most romantic idea Google could come up with, given his budget.
But it seemed much easier at home, drilling with a buddy. He wasn’t sure he’d be able to do it now. All the practice sessions seem to have washed away with the tide.
“Lovely evening, isn’t it, babes,” he asks, running a hand through his hair.
“You mean, afternoon, sweetie,” she replies. A sly curl forms in the corner of her mouth.
It floors him every time. He wishes he could frame her smile and hang copies of it on every wall in the world.
“Yes, that,” he chuckles.
He clears his throat and asks, “Darling, would you like a glass of wine?”
“I’d love a glass,” she replies and puts her hands together. “It’s been a long walk. I’m parched.”
He removes the bottle of wine from the basket and places it on the blanket.
He reaches into the basket, feeling for the bottle opener.
He pulls the basket closer and rummages through the contents. There are plates, cutlery, expensive cheese, crackers, humus, carrot sticks, chocolate covered strawberries (her favorite), and a bottle of water.
But no bottle opener.
His brain freezes.
His buddy never mentioned this in the drill sessions. Google didn’t warn that this might happen.
What was he going to do? He couldn’t propose now. He needed a glass filled with wine. That’s what he planned.
He’d have to postpone. Or cancel the whole thing.
He could break up with her and arrange to start dating another time. Or he could stay single for the rest of his life. Become a cat lady.
But he’s not a lady.
And he doesn’t like cats.
It’s the end. She’ll never say yes. And they’re going to fire him by the end of the week. And they’re going to steal his car. And a wrecking ball would smash into his living room. He was going to lose everything.
“Babes,” she interrupts him, “what’s the matter? Did you forget to bring a wine opener?”
She always saw right through him.
“Um,” he mumbles, “I’m sure I put it in, sweetie,” he replies with a smile and keeps rummaging.
He’s so engrossed that he doesn’t notice her reaching for her handbag. She opens it, removes something from it and holds it out towards him.
“Sweetie,” she says, “you could always use this.”
He looks up from his activity and takes the Wine Master from her hand.
He gapes at the tool.
“Where in the world did you get this, babes,” he asks.
“Oh,” she replies, “I bought it the other day, in case you forgot the bottle opener today. I wouldn’t miss your surprise proposal for anything in the world.”
He starts laughing.
He wouldn’t have to be alone after all.
The Wine Master is beautiful tool.
But is it only good for opening wine?
Victorinox punts it that way.
They even speak of the large blade as a culinary cutting device, as opposed to a do-it-all cutting blade.
If you want to restrict your Wine Master’s usage to opening wine bottles and cutting cheese, be my guest.
But if you’re like me, you’ll use the blade for all sorts of things, from cutting rope, to cutting a fat piece of steak, to stripping wire, to cutting fishing line and a host of other things.
There are many reasons to love the Wine Master.
Diamonds are forever, and the Wine Master isn’t far behind.
Victorinox’s quality is self-evident. Their products are top notch.
The Wine Master is no different. It’s a solid, well-constructed tool.
There are quicker tools to use for opening a bottle of wine, as there are quicker vehicles than a Bentley.
The Wine Master, with its olive handle and smooth lines, is a Bentley.
Out of the box, the Wine Master comes with a sharp enough blade.
Nonetheless, I sharpened it to a 20 degree angle on my Warthog sharpener.
It’s good to sharpen a new blade. It’s seldom that a knife is as sharp as it can be.
The Wine Master sells for $162 (olive or walnut handle) from the Victorinox website.
This, from the Victorinox website…
Victorinox AG guarantees all knives and tools to be of first class stainless steel and also guarantees a life time against any defects in material and workmanship (save for electronic components 2 years). Damage caused by normal wear and tear, misuse or abuse are not covered by this guarantee.
In the box
The Wine Master box came with the following items:
- Wine Master tool (with olive handle; available in walnut too)
- Leather pouch.
- Instruction pamphlet.
How to open a bottle of wine
Follow these steps to open a bottle of wine with the Wine Master:
- Run the foil cutter along the upper edge of the collar, all the way around.
- Remove the severed piece of foil from the lip.
- Screw the corkscrew into the throat of the bottle.
- Wedge the bottle opener onto the lip of the bottle.
- Lever the cork out of the bottle by lifting the Wine Master by its handle.
There’s another way to remove the foil:
- Cut the foil parallel to the neck, from the bottom, to a point past the upper edge of the collar.
- Cut the foil a small piece along the upper edge, to form a T cut.
- Remove the entire piece of foil.
To test the blade, I carved a fishing lure from balsa wood. Wood, even balsa, is tougher than cheese, or other foods the Wine Master is intended to be used on.
I formed a billet by gluing together five pieces of 100 mm wide, 10 mm thick, 50 mm high balsa sheets.
Once the glue cured, I marked out a rough outline (which I hardly followed) using a pencil, on two sides of the block.
Then I carved away everything that didn’t look like a crankbait fishing lure.
Even though it’s not a carving knife, the Wine Master did a fine job. Cheese doesn’t stand a chance.
You don’t want your lure dressed in human skin. Cover your thumb in a plaster or sticky tape to lessen the chance of injury.
Do it BEFORE you start cutting, not like me. I had to open my finger before common sense kicked in.
How to close the blade
When my son first picked up the Wine Master, he flicked open the blade, but complained that someone with short fingernails would have trouble closing it.
I could see his point…
…until I watched a promotional video for the Wine Master.
The Wine Master makes use of a liner lock mechanism. This keeps the blade in place when you open it.
A liner lock needs to be pushed aside for the blade to close.
The Wine Master’s liner lock is not easy to push if you don’t have long nails.
But you don’t push the liner lock aside using a fingernail.
To close the Wine Master’s blade, you press the Victorinox emblem, situated on the side of the handle. The emblem pushes back the liner lock and lets you flick the blade into a closed position.
The Wine Master is a beautiful tool.
Like all Victorinox products, it oozes quality and smacks of durability. It’ll open many bottles of wine before it gives up the ghost.
It’s not the quickest tool, but it’s elegant. The olive handle (or walnut, if you prefer) is a lovely touch.
If you’re a sommelier, you’ll impress customers by using the Wine Master as part of your wine serving ritual.
If you’re not a sommelier, but consider opening a bottle of wine a celebration, accompanied by laughter and fine food, performed with éclat, you’ll love the Wine Master.