A Wine Primer Part II – Grape Gadgetry
What do iPhones and wine have in common? They both have loads and loads of available accessories. Since Apple has its own website, I’ll move on to the gadgetry of the grape.
Foil Cutters – These little gadgets are handy. A quick twist of the wrist produces a clean and safe cut in the foil neck and cork cap. Replacing such tools as knives and fingernails, the better foil cutters will have between four and six little cutting wheels. Importance: high – unless your wine comes in a box (no judgments here) or with screw cap.
Cork Screw – There are exactly one bazillion and seven variations of this ancient device available to the wine drinker today. They range from the simple hand twist type to permanently installed, commercial grade countertop models. Recent developments include hand held battery powered units and a cleverly designed version that injects air into the bottle and pushes the cork out (handy when you encounter a crumbling cork). Importance: Mandatory if in a setting where breaking the bottle neck to open your wine is undesirable or unless your wine comes in a box (still not judging…) or a screw top.
Wine Collar – These devices attach to the bottle neck and usually prevent wine from dripping and running down the side of the bottle. As fancy and expensive as some of these can be, they rate fairly low on the importance scale. A practiced twist of the wrist at the end of the pour will provide the same clean bottle and impress your guests all while saving you money that you could using to buy wine not in a box.
Decanters and Aerators – I mention these together because they serve the same purpose. Simply put, they expand the exposed surface of the wine to air in order to allow better “breathing”. This helps soften tannins. Opinions vary as to which of these tools is best for the job. I prefer the aerator because while decanters can look really cool, they can be a real pain to clean – besides; I want my guests to be able to check out the label. Importance: High. Most red wines (especially if young) and a few whites benefit from the breathing process, mature reds (8 years and beyond) actually tend to deteriorate if allowed to breathe too long before serving.
Wine Stoppers – I have no opinion on these because they are used to reseal an open bottle of left over wine. “Left over wine” is an oxymoron in my home.
Wine Chillers– Ranging from clay single bottle chillers to a table top, double bottle, plug in coolers the purpose is the same: keeping the bottle at the right temperature during the meal. Importance: varies – impressive to guests but only if there’s wine left after the initial table pour.
Wine Refrigerators – They are as important to a wine drinker as humidors are to cigar lovers. Like humidors, they come in all sizes from countertop models to full size refrigerators. The choice is largely controlled by budget, space considerations and the dedication of the wine drinker. The ideal unit will have two separate compartments or at least two temperature “zones” for storing reds and whites. If it’s not marked, the best practice is to store reds in the cool upper portion and whites below where it’s colder (cold air flows down).