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Article

Choosing Wine Gear You'll Really Use

Fine Cooking Issue 82
Photos, except where noted: Scott Phillips
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It’s true that you need nothing more than a corkscrew and a glass to enjoy a bottle of wine. But that raises the question: which corkscrew and which glass? There’s no shortage of options. You don’t have to look very hard to find a dizzying assortment of gorgeous, steeply priced, and often impractical wine doodads—I personally have plenty of fancy wine tools that don’t do anything but collect dust. Truth is, the wine accessories I use on a regular basis are decidedly not fancy; in fact, most of them are outright bargains. Here they are:

Decanters

Decanters are a must for separating the sediment from older red wines and aerating young bottles of red wine to soften the tannins and make them more enjoyable. Decanters can be plain, ornate, or oddly shaped. Riedel’s Cabernet decanter offers the best of all worlds with its elegant design and functional shape, plus it’s very affordable.

The 37-1/2-ounce model is $39, and the 64-ounce model is $64.50 at 67wine.com.

Corkscrews

There are hundreds of kinds but only two that I use:

The Pull Tab is my go-to corkscrew. I use it 99.9% of the time, as do most of the wine pros I know. It has a handle that fits well in most hands, a Teflon-coated auger for ease of use, and a two-level hinge that will remove any cork easily (provided you pull straight up). And it’s only $8.99 at ChefDepot.net.

Screwpull’s table model could be the ultimate corkscrew. Even a novice can use this corkscrew without struggling. And it works even on those bottles with brittle, crumbly corks, so it’s a lifesaver when you’re opening an old bottle of wine from the cellar. It’s $19.95 at IwaWine.com.

The Pull Tab.
Screwpull’s table model.

Preservers & stain removers

There are many wine preservation techniques on the market, and I’ve tried practically all of them over the years. But none is better than Private Preserve, one of the first products designed to preserve an open bottle of wine. A single canister can be used to preserve approximately 120 bottles of wine for two to three days and costs just $9.95 at IwaWine.com.

You’ve probably learned the hard way: Never wear white to a wine tasting. But if tragedy occurs, fear not. Wine Away can remove red wine stains from most fabrics and carpeting. It’s truly amazing stuff, and no wine lover should be without it. A gift pack that includes a 12-ounce bottle, a 2-ounce travel-size bottle, and six little pocket packets is $15 at EvergreenLabs.com/shopping.

Private Preserve.Sloan Howard
Wine Away.Sloan Howard

Glasses

Tritan Forté, an amazing new line of wine glasses from Austrian crystal maker Schott Zwiesel, is the most revolutionary development in glassware design in many a year. The glasses are made from a patented titanium-based crystal and are the strongest, most durable glasses made. They’re also lead free and dishwasher safe. The 13.6-ounce Burgundy/red wine glass is a great all-around glass.

You can buy them for $9.99 a stem at GraciousHome.com 

Sloan Howard

Stocking stuffers

When it comes to wine gifts, sometimes the smallest—in size and in price—are the most valuable. Here are a few wee items for every wine lover on your list.

Drop Stops are slim foil discs that guarantee dripproof pouring when rolled up and inserted in any bottle. Three for $6.99 at WineCellarsOnline.com.
Foil cutters are one of the handiest wine accessories ever invented, and the Screwpull is one of the best and most reasonably priced at $7.95 at IwaWine.com.
Zyliss bottle stoppers are great to have on hand for recorking half-full bottles of wine. Because they form an air-tight, leak-proof seal in the mouth of the bottle, they’re much more effective than the original cork. And it’s hard to find a better deal—they cost $1.99 each at DifferentDrummersKitchen.com.

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