|Back to School Intro|
|Back to School Red Wines|
|Wine Class Dos and Don'ts|
|Required Wine Reading|
A budding enophile could require plenty more.
We'll start simple and work our way up from there.
A Screwpull. The good old-fashioned waiter's friend is a perfectly adequate corkscrew. With a little practice, it's quick, simple and easy to slip into a pocket. Too bad that it's next to useless when confronted with a shredded or stuck cork. That's where the Screwpull comes in. Even if you're a corkscrew purist, the Screwpull can save your bacon in a pinch. It does what is says: screws and pulls. The result is a perfectly extracted cork, every time. Use it for backup. Use it in emergencies. At around $15 for the basic model, it's worth it.
High-class stemware. Here at Wine Spectator, we have conducted exhaustive research to determine if wine glasses designed to enhance the aromas and flavors of different wines deliver on their promises. Lo and behold, they do. But that's not really the issue. If you intend to get serious about wine this fall, you need to first get serious about what you drink wine out of. It doesn't need to be a matched set of hand-blown Riedel stems (very high-quality -- and very expensive -- glasses that hail from Austria). A set of large-bowl, thin-rimmed, machine-made glasses from a large housewares retailer will do just fine. Crystal, obviously, is better. Cut crystal, or colored crystal, or gilded crystal should be avoided. Conversely, so should Fred Flintstone juice glasses. Grow up already.
A decanter. Wine isn't always ready to drink fresh -- or not so fresh, depending on the vintage and overall winery cleanliness -- from the bottle. On occasion (with certain tannic, brooding reds, for example,) a little decanting is in order. The general idea here is -- and no laughing -- to permit the wine to breathe, to soften, to loosen up, before it is drunk. Letting the bottle sit out uncorked won't work; the neck's opening is too small to let more than a tiny bit of air come into contact with the wine. Also, if you happen to find yourself in possession of a 20-year-old vintage Port, you will probably want to decant it to avoid drinking the flaky sediment that builds up in these wines over the course of their aging process. So decant. Decant! Pick up a decanter with your new stemware.
An ice bucket. Think of it as a beer cozy for your white Burgundy. True, you might feel a little Thurston Howell III when you first haul it out, but don't let the snickers from your fellow castaways get the better of you. Because if you want your wine, oh, possibly cold, you're going to need to ice it down. Thus: a bucket into which you place ice. Added bonus: the sound of a bottle of wine being slipped from a bucket of ice is among the sweetest tones imaginable, in this life or any other. Widely available in a variety of styles, from affordable to terrifyingly expensive.
A temperature- and humidity-controlled wine-storage unit. The more wine you acquire, the less you begin to think of these things as the height of wine-collecting snobbery. All it takes is one cooked bottle of costly Bordeaux to convince even the most amateur of collectors to invest in technologically assisted storage. Many units allow reds and whites to be stored at different temperatures. It's not necessary to spend an arm and a leg; a starter unit can be picked up for around $400. From there, of course, the sky's the limit. You can find units the size of entire rooms that look as if they need to be helicoptered in.
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