Joseph & Curtis are proud to introduce our friend Andrew Lazorchak, from Wine Soiree. After meeting Andrew and learning about his innovative in-bottle wine aerator and decanter, we had to bring him in for one of our famous Q&A blogs so our readers can learn more. We only work with people who are as passionate as we are about building wine cellars. So let's get right to the conversation!
Where did the idea for Wine Soiree come from?
Soirée has been a happy-go-lucky story. The core to Soirée is the 3 partners (I’m one) which were all intrinsic, in their own right, to the development of Soirée.
At the crux of it, the genesis for Soirée came when I (Andrew Lazorchak) got the opportunity to design a home Wine Bar for long-time family friends, now business partners. That was in 2004, by 2005 we were sitting around the Wine Bar that I designed, and were drinking some Napa Cab.
My NYC cynical side was poking around at some of the accoutrements that they had received as gifts, one of which I gave to them. We started to talk about these wine accessories and how they helped wine, I was barely a wine novice at this time. And can you blame me, I was most baffled by a pewter Sea Horse that hangs in a decanter and agitates the wine as the wine gets poured in. Who thought of this?Anyway, after a few more occasions at the bar and the ever-infamous cocktail napkin sketches (note I was/am an architect), we looked at each other and said, “Wouldn’t it be fun to make our own.” And as I love to say, “3-years later, we were right, It’s a lot of fun!” The development of Soirée seems like it took a few weeks in hind-sight, but we spent 1 year and a half in development with our Factory. Personally, I was intrigued in the branding packaging, and stylization of a consumer good. And what was crucial, is that I had the capability and desire to do all of the 3-D modeling prototypes, graphics.As a team we developed Soirée casually at nights for seven months. And ultimately we had designed a much more complex object then what we currently sell. It took us a bit to realize how fragile wine is, and that we had to respect the way wine is handled by an “aerator”. It was really fun though, and the fact that we all enjoyed the struggle and massive learning curve, keep in mind none of us have ever brought a product to market, made every little success that much bigger. And the reality of glass production was what really defined the ultimate design - we realized that glass can only do so much without costing a fortune. And we never considered plastic, we have always been adamant about glass, I will remain stunned at the amount of plastic wine aerators on the market.
How long has it been in existence?
We started in 2006 – we had our first samples in-hand by summer 2007 and sales waiting to go. We made our official debut in 2008 at the Boston Wine Expo – the biggest show in North America. (we sold out at that show and were located in the absolute back corner, it was awesome!)
I see Soirée called an aerator and a decanter?(1) What’s the difference in the 2 names (2) Why is it so important to decant?
Great questions:(1) A decanter is traditionally used to remove sediment from wine. Soirée is truly an aerator – a device that rapidly and conveniently adds air to wine. As the vast majority of wines are clear fined (filtered), sediment is rarely an issue. And I find that most wines 8 years of age or older will start to give off sediment (Sediment is either residual from the winemaking process or is the chemical result of wine “melding” or aging. We mix up the terms, as most people intuitively get the idea of decanting to mean to air-out a wine.(2) I just finished a wine show in Texas, and got this question from a lot of people, as Aeration is still a new concept to most people. My token answer goes as follows: Have you ever heard the expression, “You have to let the wine breathe.”? I ask this to a lot of people, and they all say, “ya.” So I point to a sealed bottle of wine and say that this bottle is hermetically sealed, devoid of oxygen. It has been in slumber for X years. Like everything else in our atmosphere it is activated by the presence of oxygen, and when you uncork the bottle, it is just now seeing oxygen. Like a bear coming out of hibernation or doing aerobics in the morning, you need to get oxygen going through its veins to allow the wine to come to life. That is the simple idea – the Soirée adds air – in turn it makes wine taste better. And to be thorough, I want people to know yes you can aerate all wines, even whites? Really, Whites? Yes!
My rule of thumb is any wine 8 years old or younger can handle aeration, if it’s older aerate to taste. That is a great thing about an aerator like Soirée - if you have drank half the bottle and the wine is drinking well you can always pull off the Soirée and finish the bottle normally. Soirée let’s you customize how much air you want in the wine, something you can not do with a decanter. And a fun fact is that 90% of all bottles are drunk within 24 hours of purchase, and young wines (despite some erroneous blogs) benefit MOST from aeration (ask a winemaker if they ever shook a wine bottle or put wine in a blender, they’ll all have a story about this.). And yes whites can benefit with aeration, white wines jump aromatically with aeration, and reds increase aromatically but more so have increased mid-palate expression and finesse on the finish. (this is a deep topic, as acidity, sediment, and wine structure are all factors, I could go on for a while and put most people to sleep with these details.)
You talk about Active Decanting vs Passive Decanting on your website, can you explain this more?
Well first off cheers for perusing our website! We also got praise from enobytes.com that awarded Soirée The Best Bet and gave us a nod for having passionate content. I am glad to know people are reading it!
Traditional decanting: The process was invented to “clear” the wine or pour the wine into a decanting vessel, leaving sediment in the bottle. The wine then sits and passively decants for a period of time. Soirée by its physics – causes the wine to open up every time you pour by having air bubbling up into the bottle (think of the glugging of milk). This bubbling takes place when the wine bottle is being poured Up-Side Down and air “glugs” up into the bottle.Then, when the bottle is turned right-side up, the wine then sloshes back down mixing up the wine in the bottle. As a result – the wine in the bottle will get exposed to more oxygen with very pour – allowing the whole bottle to actively “decant” as you pour. And the sharp question here, is if one pours a glass or two with the Soirée is the bottle then safe to save for another day. The answer is yes, of course we always recommend that you finish the bottle (that’s our joking answer) but yes as long as you have better than a third of the bottle left, seal the bottle, refrigerate it, and even use an inert gas like Vineyard Fresh (these are the proper ways to store wine for max preservation), your wine will be good for a day or 5.
What’s on the horizon for the soiree?Global domination, just kidding, well, hopefully not. But from the get-go people have encouraged us to diversify and make variations on a theme. Even some of or our retailers are like – what miracle product are you going to invent next? We have decided to stay a single SKU company until we have the confidence that we are clearly the leader or a strong rival. I like to say if we can be what Pepsi is to Coke, I am cool with that, we just better be Pepsi or Coke. And you can bet we’ll work like rust until we are.It’s hard enough to introduce one product to the world, why make more work? We have ideas “on the drawing board” that will compliment Soirée, and keep in mind I am an architect turned wine lover (mid-level sommelier), with a passion for branding. So you can bet we’ll do something involving design, brand, and wine – ya that’s vague. But honestly – this whole endeavor has been one lucky move to the next (supported by little sleep and lots of work), but if I were to guess I’d live in Napa Valley and be flying around the country selling Soirée back in 2007 when we started – I’d say you’re nuts but I am an “anything’s possible” kind of guy. So there will surely be new endeavors – but none that are going into action just yet.What’s the funniest story about the soiree?Hmmm, this question is a tough one. I am split on this answer, cause I’ll never stop getting funny names that people call Soirée and well the fact that we are doing so well stupefies me sometimes. But, you wouldn’t believe how many people come up to me at a tasting and ask, “Hey is that a Wine Bong?” and what makes this funny, is that they are commonly over the age of 60, - I love to retort, “What’s a bong?” They never expect that answer – and then we all laugh.And then there’s OneWineDude.com who said in his review, ” The Soirée looks like a glass Christmas tree ornament, or a sex toy for the very, very adventurous. Or an elegant alien spacecraft for extraterrestrial fleas…Soirée does indeed seem to aerate the wine…” This review was before some other aerators came out, I’ll leave that one alone, but this was a hell of a review to read, not knowing Joe’s sense of humor – but without getting too mushy, the overall craziest thing is that we have made it happen – my business partners and I look at each other sometimes and say, “All this because of a glass ball.”And we are not referring to money, we got time before this is paying mortgages. But such a novel, Yet Effective, product has enabled so much fun, opportunity, great employees, international distribution, and a lifestyle that most people mock me for. Ohh ya, my friends love to tease me, “Ohh work must have been real tough today, another wine tasting or “sales” in wine country.”Ya, I get a lot of crap –but as Gary Vaynerchuk is promoting in “Crush It”– when work is 100% passion you don’t need a vacation and weekends don’t exist – and that is because you don’t need them – you are 100% happy with everything you do. And to my friends that call me a workaholic – they’re right – but they can’t say I am not having fun.Thanks again for this opportunity to talk about Soirée, we are so excited for all of our growth and the many loyal fans and friends we have made along the way. We look forward to the coming years and thank every one that has helped make us what we are today. Try every wine you can, and drink every bottle like it is your last.Well that wraps up our Q&A with Andrew Lazorchak, from Wine Soiree. We hope you enjoyed reading another edition of our blog - now go get your Wine Soiree from our store, it makes a great gift for the holidays! We can giftwrap it for you as well, check it out in our store.