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Though more amusing than the usual wine-accessory pitches I get regularly — stain remover! plastic beach glasses! the next game-changing app! — I simply ignored the first couple of emails from a publicist advertising a vial full of crystals that was supposed to make your wine smoother. The Vino Vial was the latest product from a German company called VitaJuwel, whose founder, Ewald Eisen, believes that certain crystals can make water healthier.

But persistence pays off, so a few weeks ago, I was in our conference room, sipping on a glass of Dunn Vineyards Howell Mountain 2012 cabernet from Napa — $150 a bottle and, yeah, damn good — while waiting about seven minutes for the magic gems to do their stuff on the second glass of cab. I was trying to come up with a way to politely but firmly tell the Vino Vial’s American distributor, the very nice and professional longtime luxury jewelry dealer Anjanette Sinesio, that the whole thing was wacko. And then, when the time was right, I sipped the crystal-enhanced Dunn.

“Huh!” I immediately uttered in that universal “wow” tone.

“I know!” replied Sinesio.

“It’s pretty obvious,” I admitted sheepishly. As you’d expect from a young Napa, the original wine was firmly structured with chalky tannins, a bit too tight for pure enjoyment right now but sure to be excellent for decades to come. The crystal-treated one, though, was remarkably smoother, allowing the fruit and spice flavors to take center stage with a bit more ease. I was shocked.

So is mostly everyone else. “People have been freaking out,” said Sinesio, who’s been bringing the vials to wine stores and other retail outlets around the country since she began selling them last November. “It really enlivens the wine, softens the tannins, and gives you a window into the future of what a young wine could be. When people taste it, it is pretty evident.”   

The vials, which are hand-blown in Bohemia, contain amethyst, white quartz, and a tiny bit of garnet suspended in an alcohol-water solution, and apparently have the same effect as just dropping actual crystals into your glass (which wouldn’t be safe for a number of reasons). Sinesio said that gems are known to raise the pH in water, and she points to quartz-powered wristwatches when people scoff at energy-crystal-connection claims. “People have been using gems in water for millennia,” said Sinesio. “Ewald just modernized it.”

I’m not sure of the quantitative realities of this practice — and, to be honest, I haven’t tested the vial again, as it doesn’t really fit into my personal wine flow — but I know that, qualitatively, something happened to my cab that afternoon. So if you’ve got some massive wines that need immediate smoothing, it’s worth a shot. And at the very least, it’s a fun party trick.

See It’s $60 for the by-the-glass droplet, $144 for the decanter-sized vial, and $210 for the decanter.


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