GSI Outdoors Wine Gift Set Review
Active Gear Review is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.
This beer-drinking, can-cracking chug-a-lug sort of guy was skeptical. It was a dubious proposition: was a piece of gear dedicated to toting wine really necessary? The conclusion: No, not by a long shot. A signaling mirror and space-age survival blanket are necessary. But the GSI Outdoors Wine Gift Set will delight the wine drinker pour after pour while toasting Nature’s Splendor in your favorite backcountry setting.
I prefer my wine fermented from barley and hops and served in a can and referred to as “beer.” The crack of a cold can of Colorado Craft Beer is my idea of enjoying the sunset after a long day of skiing, hiking or biking in the mountains. Since my Celiac girlfriend can’t have a beer without a trip to the hospital, I’ve begun packing a wine bottle in my backpack or saddlebag. What’s wrong with chucking a bottle of fancy fermented grape juice in the truck or motorcycle? Anyone who’s had a broken bottle ruin his or her day will laugh at my naïveté. With careful packing however, breakage isn’t a problem so why spend your hard-earned coins on a wine-carrying device? Because this thing is awesome and practical and that’s all I ever ask of my gear: Be cool and work.
Speaking of being cool, how many times can you pour a girl a bit of Sangiovese into a Solo Cup or Chianti into a coffee cup without hearing “I’ll call you”? A palm-full of Pinot perhaps? A collapsible cup of Cab Frac? You get the idea. The GSI Wine Tote Gift Set is cool. And it works. Most importantly, wine drinkers really enjoy decanting a good bottle of wine into this wine tote and then drinking it from quality stemware.
The GSI wine tote does a few things really well. It eliminates the glass and the possibility of glass-gone-wrong. It’s portable, throw-able, stow-able and tote-able. I took it on a motorcycle camping trip and threw it over my shoulder and over my handlebar and then hung it on a pine branch. Try that with a box of wine. It keeps the wine at an appropriate temperature even if you stow it in a pack on a sub-zero day or in a black motorcycle saddlebag during a high-alpine scorcher. On one camping date, I pulled a bottle of Cab out of my pannier that was nearly boiled. The girl was not impressed with her skunked wine as I sipped some of Bourbon County’s finest that fared better in the extreme heat. The insulating properties of this wine tote can’t be over stated. Wine should never freeze or get too hot and I’ve tested its ability at both extremes.
How about the pair of included wine goblets? Well, they’re pretty amazing. You’ll never convince my PBR-palette that wine tastes better from stemware. But now I’m a firm believer that any wine drinker will be infinitely more satisfied with stemware than with a Solo cup. As a guy who brings his own pint-glass to keg parties, I can appreciate the appropriate vessel. It might not taste better, but you’re bound to enjoy it more. And perhaps, you’re one of those people who can detect heat imparted to your Chardonnay by holding it in the palm of your hand. Well, now you and your sophisticated taste buds can rest easy while imbibing in nature while properly holding the wine glass.
What about the clean-up? The only thing I despise more than emptying the dishwasher is hand-washing some delicate item. A cupful of water and a good shake was all it took to prep the GSI wine tote for the next bottle. My girlfriend is a sommelier who scowls at a smudged wine glass like a matre’d scowls at a patron wearing a t-shirt. So I used my synthetic base layer shirt to polish each glass in between uses. You could get away with swirling a bit of water in each glass.
Is the GSI Outdoor Wine Gift Set Essential?
Will this make your short list of essential gear alongside a compass and Rambo-knife? Not likely. But if “survival” means being a good host, then you’ll appreciate toasting your friends with a proper glass of wine. Wine drinkers can buy this reusable carrying device and be confident that it will light up your smile for years and years.
Pssst… I must confess that after camping a few times with this wine tote, I’ve left the PBR at home in favor of a Petit Syrah. A big chewy red wine around a wintertime campfire is blissful. For more info on these and other GSI products, visit www.rei.com/gsioutdoors.