GEORGE BALLING: The best and worst of 2017

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Each year we see some really great advances in wine and some very silly trends as well. Here are my top choices in both categories for 2017, starting with the best.

The wine market continues to go global making wines from the most far flung appellations available here in North Idaho! For those of us who like trying new things as part of our wine journey there is nothing better. Greece, Lebanon, some of the former Soviet east bloc countries, and other areas are all exporting along with more robust offerings from the well known producers like Spain, Portugal, Italy and France leading to an ever more diverse selection of wines for us to enjoy.

The non-Vintage brut rosè from Bollinger is both a good news and bad news story. We tried the wine recently and were blown away, it is one of the best Champagnes we have ever had. At $95, $85.50 if you are in our wine club the wine is extraordinary and takes my top spot as wine of the year! Once we tried it we bought all that was in the market because sadly it has lost its distributor here and will not be available until another picks the wine up.

In my top 5 wines of the year would also be the Bonny Doon Clos du Gilroy Grenache. Bonny Doon wines just became available again in our market this year and this wine has become one of our best sellers very quickly. At $20, $18 if you are in our wine club the wine seriously over delivers with vibrant fruit mild earthiness and a lovely long finish. This wine again being in the market is one of the best things to happen this year.

Our award for the best new wine gadget is the Menagerie pourer aerator. Made of stainless steel in Napa and shaped like a wide range of animal heads the functionality is all there for a good aerator but with a fun twist. Priced at $29.95, $26.97 if you are in our wine club it is a well designed and fun stocking stuffer for the wine enthusiast on your Christmas list.

And the Best New Glass award at least new to us is the “roller glass” also $29.95. The glass is stemless with a ball affixed to the bottom of the glass so it effortlessly rolls on any flat surface aerating your wine as it goes. We discovered the glasses at the gift show and brought them in right away, it is the perfect option for a wine lover who wants their wine aerated without introducing oxygen to the entire bottle.

Each year unfortunately there are some silly trends that emerge, that earn our worst of the year awards. The best of the worst award this year goes to the Coravin wine dispenser. This gadget allows the user to dispense wine from an unopened bottle leaving the cork intact and replacing any air with inert gas to preserve the wine. This part is a great idea! Here’s the rub, they retail for over $200! The device is a great idea for those wanting to have just a glass of collectible wine without exposing the entire bottle to oxygen and spoilage. Seriously though for the average bottle and average wine drinker it seems like a bit too big of a commitment. You might be better off spending $12 on a can of Private Preserve to hold your wine for an additional 48 hours.

The trend to age wine in bourbon barrels emerged last year but it picked up steam again this year with all the huge wineries jumping on board. This is perhaps the worst idea we’ve heard of. I have always felt that one would want their bourbon to taste like bourbon and their wine to taste like wine, without the crossover. The wineries employing this ill advised gimmick are no doubt attempting to appeal to a customer who really does not like wine at all. A better idea might be to seek out the advice of a good wine professional as you start your own wine journey and ditch the gimmicky marketing campaigns.

Each year there are positive and not so positive developments in the big world of wine, we will keep you posted on all of them, stop by the shop or email your questions on further trends good or not so much.

If there is a topic you would like to read about or if you have questions on wine, you can email, or make suggestions by contacting the Healthy Community section at the Coeur d’Alene Press.

• • •

George Balling is co-owner (with his wife Mary Lancaster) of the dinner party, a wine and table top décor shop located by Costco in Coeur d’Alene. George worked as a judge in many wine competitions, and his articles are published around the country. You can learn more about the dinner party at Be sure and check out our weekly blog at You can get all of these articles as well as other great wine tips by friending us on Facebook at!/dinnerpartyshop.

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