You don’t have to be a wine nerd, self-proclaimed expert, or connoisseur to have these toys. You just need to like wine, and consume a lot of it. See them as your “pleasure companions”. Their purpose is to simplify getting to the juice, making the juice taste better, or transporting the juice to be enjoyed elsewhere. I cannot live without these. Need some reasons why? Vamos a investigar.
This is a no brainer. But, ojo, not all bottle openers are made equal. Personally, I detest bottle openers that have two arms that you push down. I find them clunky and hard to use. I want some assurance from the get go that the cork is going to come out of the bottle with some degree of finesse, and unbroken. Right now, my hands down favorite is from the no-name Winner from the Wine Appreciation Guild (or hmm, maybe that’s its name). Works like a charm every single time. Second place would go to the standard issue with two “legs” that most sommelier students use. I used to have the Swiftpull Pro Lever. While a shiny device that is certainly clever, I grew tired of having to replace the screw so frequently. Sometimes, functional is the best. One word of advice. Although this seems ridiculous, keep a spare opener in your purse, or car glove compartment. You’d be surprised how many times you save a party, or picnic.
This is a flavor enhancer. I don’t use this every single time, but often enough it’s worth mentioning—and having. Different wine varietals express themselves at different temperatures. If you have a vested interest in what you’re drinking, it’s worth printing a simple chart and either committing those temps to memory, or putting them on your frig with a magnet. You want to be drinking the right wine at the right temperature. Ever try an “almost” cold Champagne? I’ll pass. How about a warm Cabernet? I bet the alcohol 1-2ed you and you don’t even remember. Or, how about an ice cold Pinot? That’s not lovin’ in a bottle. Temperature matters, the same as it does with your pot roast in the oven, or food in general. This is a wonderful device to make sure. It takes 10-15 seconds and listo.
There are a LOT of options on the market these days for aerators. I am going to discuss the one that I use and find yields great results when decanting. Aerators are, generally speaking, intended mostly for red wines. This is the funnel style made from stainless steel. It rests in the neck of the decanter and you pour the wine into it. It has a fine-mesh strainer that fits into the funnel to filter out any dregs and sediment. All you have to do is pour. Don’t pour like it’s the Kentucky Derby now, this is not a race. Pour steadily so as the wine streams out below, it will be pushed through eight tiny holes forcing it in different directions. This contact with the air instantly helps “open” the wine.
This is not for wine snobs. If you are drinking red wine, even at US$5-7 a bottle, do yourself a favor and get one of these gizmos. If you don’t have a decanter, get creative, a glass pitcher will work in a pinch. Aerating makes a BIG difference in the flavor of the wine. Let me put it this way. How do you feel when you get off a 10-hour flight like DFW-Santiago? A little cramped? Creaky? Cranky? I am, at least. Well, wine feels the same when you open it. Remember when we said it’s like a person. It needs to stretch its legs and get a latte. An aerator helps stretch it and get settled-fast. A wine needs to open from being pushed into a tight space, err, bottle. An aerator is a gift to coax out those aromas, flavors, and integrate it better. Your ultimate pleasure partner.
Hats off to Danish inventor Brian Vang Jensen for this clear device. You know the scenario. The wine is flowing at a dinner party. A (drunken) guest leans over and serves himself some more tinto. As host, to your horror, a big drop lands on your freshly laundered white table cloth. Mierda!
Before I discovered the Drop Stop, my solution to all these blasted drips was to artfully arrange flat black stones (like the stones they use in hot massage) on the table. People commented how “zen” the table looked. Right…I just prayed they wouldn’t pick up a stone to expose the wine-stained truth. Apparently, Brian had the same fate. However, he acted after an unfortunate “dripping” incident and sought to correct it. Thank god. Thank Brian. These flat, silver, pliable Frisbees, fit into the neck of the bottle and seriously stop the drops. Not a single drop. A true tablecloth saver.
These neoprene wine totes are so awesome, especially when transporting wine to dinner at restaurants or friends’ houses. First, they look cool and come in snazzy colors, if you want to make a statement with your “wine purse”. I have the single and double carriers depending on the occasion. For whites, the tote definitely maintains the temperature chilled for at least an hour. Most importantly, it makes the wine fairly bump proof for transport. And once the bottle is kicked, just roll up the tote and stick it in your jacket or bag. This also doubles for water, juices, any beverage really.
Throwing a wine tasting party soon? These are the BEST favors for your wine loving crowd (or good stocking stuffers, I may add). These re-usable wine stoppers slow down the oxidation process that occurs once a bottle of wine is opened. We normally have to cork up a bottle of wine opened during the week so this definitely creates a tight seal. Good to have on hand, particularly with cooking wine.
What about you guys? What wine gadgets can you not live without?