Oh, the exciting life of the wine writer. Recently the wine department received samples of a new product called Wine Wipes. To quote the flackery, "The gentle orange-blossom flavored Wine Wipes quickly and easily remove the stain and clean the palate without interfering with the wine tasting experience." Hm. More on that later.

Now, as a wine writer, there have been many occasions where I've looked in the mirror and recoiled in horror at the purplish-black color of my teeth. It's not a good look. It's especially not a good look when you've forgotten that you spent all afternoon tasting Port or what-have-you, have gone out to a fancy dinner with your mother-in-law to-be, say, and have wondered why she spent the entire evening looking rather as though she wished she were dining with the people two tables away. So, hey, Wine Wipes, nice idea, right?

Here's the thing. I've got an issue with this "gentle orange-blossom flavored" business. Being a dutiful fellow, I popped open the Wine Wipes compact after a Cabernet tasting the other day, and found that, au contraire, they are not gentle at all. Instead, they fill the mouth (mine, at least) with a searing citric acid note, overlaid with a kind of strange metallic dissonance; the sonic equivalent would be listening to a flugelhorn concert with one ear and Metal Machine Music by Lou Reed with the other, both at about 120 decibels.

They did, however, do a fine job of cleaning the wine-stain off my pearly whites. Clean as a whistle. So I suppose it's just a matter of what you'll endure for the sake of beauty.