Aside from a corkscrew, the two wine accoutrements I use almost as frequently are a decanter, for warming up and aerating chilled wines, and a funnel, which I use to return the wine to its vessel.
Which started me thinking about the essential wine gadgets every wine lover must have, and thanks to my tasting staff, here’s a list of things we use regularly and think you’ll find handy too.
1. The Waiter’s Corkscrew: Good luck opening a cork-sealed bottle without a tool. This one’s portable, inexpensive and versatile. It can do everything from removing wax casings to opening beer or soda bottles. And, it’s designed with an attached blade to slice off metal foils.
2. Ah-So (as in ah, so easy): Yet another portable, inexpensive wine bottle opener. This two-pronged implement is especially useful for opening old bottles with brittle corks, since it wraps around the cork rather than puncturing it, which often causes a fragile cork to crumble into pieces.
3. Lever Corkscrew: If you have to open several bottles of wine in a hurry, or at the same time, or you just want increased ease pulling out just about any cork, this is an excellent option. Be cautious when using them with wax, though, which causes wear and tear.
4. Champagne Key: This gadget is a handy and safe way to pop open any bottle of bubbly. It is especially useful to help get a stuck cork out of a bottle. It wraps around the cork giving you extra leverage as you rotate the bottle and pop out the cork.
5. Wax Whacker: Yep, no kidding. This small metal device makes removing wax caps from bottles easier than ever. It gives you extra leverage to pop wax off of bottles, sparing your cork pull from unnecessary wear and tear. Rounded edges make them safer.
6. Decanter: For wines old and young, allow a young wine to breathe or remove sediment from an older wine, usually those 10 years or older. Decanters come in all shapes and sizes. We use the Riedel Cabernet single-bottle decanter, which sells for about $32 and can be cleaned in the dishwasher.
7. Wine Away: This stain remover works like magic to remove red wine from clothing, furniture, carpets or just about anywhere. Just spray it on the stain, wash out your clothes and they will look as good as new.
8. Champagne Wine Stoppers: These nifty stoppers are easy to use, and are perfect for keeping the bubbles in your bottle of sparkling wine fresh for a few days after you open it. They provide a vacuum that’s easy to pop on and off so you no longer have to worry about your half-open bottle of bubbly going flat the next day.
9. Funnel: This is one device where less is more. Fancy wine funnels are expensive and can be a hassle. A basic plastic or tin funnel from your local kitchen supply store will suffice.
10. Padded Wine Totes: Whether carrying wine to a restaurant or a picnic, padded wine totes keep your wine cool and safe. They also provide a more elegant means of transportation for your prized bottle than a paper bag.
What about you? Any wine gadgets that you use that you’d like to share?
Troy Peterson — Burbank, CA — October 31, 2007 5:16pm ET
Eric Swanson — Westlake — October 31, 2007 5:19pm ET
John Osgood — New York, NY — October 31, 2007 5:42pm ET
Jason Thompson — Foster City, CA — October 31, 2007 6:03pm ET
Steve Barber — Clayton, CA. — October 31, 2007 6:16pm ET
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David Nelson — CA — November 1, 2007 3:11pm ET
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Choon-yong Yang — Singapore — November 1, 2007 9:39pm ET
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