Wine gadgets, like the Vinturi wine aerator or advice about wine, are everywhere. And while suggestions can be expensive, there’s no reason why your collection of wine accessories like Riedel wine glasses or even a cool Metrokane wine bottle opener has to be. Here’s the thrifty wine drinker’s list of the TOP 10 Wine Accessories and best gadgets, none of which should be as expensive as those high-end bottles you read about in a magazine last night:
TOP 10 Wine Accessories List
1. Glasses. Every wine drinker needs the proper wine glasses, simply because they are a big help in appreciating wine and serving it under proper conditions. You’ll need a red wine glass like a Libbey or Riedel, with a big bowl, a stem and a tapered top, because you want to swirl the wine to release its aromas. You’ll need a white wine glass, with a smaller bowl, a stem and a tapered top, because a smaller bowl keeps the wine cooler, while still allowing you to swirl and sniff. And you’ll need a Champagne flute, the fall and elegant-looking glasses that make the bubbles stand out.
2. A corkscrew. Since the discovery of cork as the ideal stopper for wine bottles, debates have raged about the proper — and easiest — way to extract the cork. Your best bet is a well-made waiter’s corkscrew, which should have a handle large and sturdy enough to allow you to twist the screw into the cork and then extract it easily. It also should have a built-in foil cutter. Best brands of corkscrews are Oster, Ozeri and Metrokane.
3. A wine pump. This is absolutely essential to preserve opened bottles of wine. There are several systems available, but the simplest is a set that comes with a rubber stopper and a wine saver pump that fits on top of it and allows you to draw most of the air off the top of the wine in the bottle. The less air in the bottle, the longer the wine in an opened bottle will last with a Vacu Vin Vacuum Wine Pump.
4. A decanter. Sometimes, wines — especially reds — need to get some air, and the easiest way is to pour it into a decanter. You may not even have a wine aerator like the Vinturi but it’s ok. The typical decanter is a glass vessel that will hold slightly more than the typical 750-ml bottle. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it helps if it has a pouring spout to allow you to more easily return the wine to the bottle, or pour it into glasses more easily. Riedel decanters are very nice in design!
5. A drip stopper. It seems like a little bit of a frill, but the humble collar that fits around the neck of a wine bottle can keep you from staining your tablecloth, carpet or friend’s shirt. Wine professionals use a pouring technique to stop drips, a gentle twist of the bottle at the end of a pour, but the drip stopper works just as well.
6. Wine-Away. Even if you’re careful with No. 5, you’re occasionally going to have drips and spills. Wine-Away is a miracle of modern science. If used promptly, it will remove red wine stains from just about anything — something that can’t be said of any other product. It’s considered the best red wine stain remover and is definitely worthy of a spot in our TOP 10 Wine Accessories list.
7. A wine refrigerator. No, you don’t need to convert the pantry, the basement or the extra bedroom into a wine cellar. But your more-expensive wines, or the rare one you want to save for a special occasion, will benefit from the proper storage conditions of any of the small, readily-available wine refrigerators. They keep the bottles at optimum temperatures, which are higher than a regular refrigerator. They do not use the same kind of compressors as refrigerators, ones that cause vibration and can damage delicate wines. They also will not dry out corks like the regular refrigerator. For the casual wine drinker, one that holds from 8-24 bottles is probably sufficient.
8. The Wine Aroma Wheel. This ingenious little wheel helps you identify aromas and flavors in wine, not to mention start all kinds of interesting conversations with your friends. Developed by Ann C. Noble, the wheel helps you train your nose to identify specific aromas in wine by starting out with very broad descriptions and then working your way down to the very specific ones. And it includes both the positive descriptions, as well as flaws within wines. It’s available at winearomawheel.com.
9. A wine journal. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but a sturdy notebook and it needed to be included in our TOP 10 Wine Accessories list — one that can withstand the occasional wine drip or spill — can be a great way to keep track of your impressions about wines, from the name of the producer to the vintage year to aromas and flavors. If you’re into saving labels, it also is an ideal place, since it takes up far less space than empty bottles.
10. A wine guide. There are hundreds of books out there offering all kinds of information and advice, but the most important one to have is one that can quickly and easily answer your questions. One of the better ones is simply titled “Wine Encyclopedia,” published by the Portable Press. If you’re into rummaging through used-book stores, look for titles by Frank Schoonmaker, an influential and entertaining wine writer whose titles include “Frank Schoonmaker’s Encyclopedia of Wine.”