If you love wine, it’s easy to go overboard buying fancy gadgets that are designed to enhance your hobby. However, it isn’t really necessary – it’s enough to invest in just a few quality tools to better enjoy what it’s actually all about: the delicious juice in the bottle.
The Right Temperature
To enjoy a bottle of wine at its full potential, you need to serve it at the right temperature. If you serve a white wine ice cold, you won’t be able to taste much, while a lukewarm red wine isn’t exactly pleasant, either. The ideal temperature for whites is roughly around 7-13 °C (45-55 °F) and 12-18 °C (54-64 °F) for reds. Cooling wine with an ice bucket works, or use one of these slip-on ice jackets to chill it more quickly. If you’re not sure about the temperature, try a wine thermometer.
While many bottles sport screw caps these days, you still need a corkscrew to open those with a classic cork. We don’t recommend using your shoe (although you could, according to this video), just make sure you always carry this so-called ‘waiter’s friend’ in your pocket. It has a sharp blade embedded in the handle to cut away the foil on the bottle’s neck, and a two-hinged lever to gently remove the cork. It’s not difficult to use as long as you know how as Madeline Puckette of Wine Folly demonstrates in the video above.
Now that the bottle is open, you obviously need a glass to pour your wine into. Although some glass manufacturers recommend using a differently shaped glass for every type of wine (to enhance aromas, for one), you really should first invest in a couple of good universal tasting glasses, like these. But whatever you get, make sure they are clear, unadorned and always have a stem. Always. After all, you know that this is where you hold the glass, right? No one wants fingerprints clouding up the glass – plus, why would you want to warm up the wine you just carefully cooled down?
Now, what to do with leftover wine? One solution is to not have any, but if you don’t want to polish off your Chablis in one go, there are other options to keep the wine drinkable for a couple of days. One simple tool you could use is a small vacuum pump such as the Vacuvin Wine Saver, which extracts the remaining air from the bottle and slows down the oxidation process. Another option is to transfer the remaining wine to a smaller bottle, reducing the oxygen-to-wine ratio. Placing the bottle in the refrigerator further slows down oxidation.
Just A Sip
Say, you’ve been ageing that case of Barolos for a couple of years now, and your patience has reached its limit. Is the wine at its full potential or does it need some more time? If only you could have just one taste to test it… Well, actually, with the Coravin you can try as much as you like without having to open the bottle. Scientist Greg Lambrecht applied his knowledge of cutting-edge medical devices to his love of wine to develop this tool. It has a long, thin needle that goes straight through the foil and cork, allowing you to ‘tap’ the wine. The remaining space is replaced by inert gas, and the springy cork naturally reseals itself. This nifty invention is a bit of an investment, but great for those who want to drink (and not finish) multiple great wines at the dinner table.
Training Your Nose
Identifying and naming different aromas in a wine helps you to better describe, remember and, ultimately, enjoy a wine. Every time you’re at a market, take a sniff of the fresh produce, herbs and spices to train your nose and memorise smells. If you feel weird bringing your nose up close to peaches, cloves or rosemary, a customised aroma kit like the Aromaster might be just for you. The folks at The Wine Show try it out in the video above.
You’ll know you’ve caught the wine bug when you have to keep buying wine racks and cramming them into every spare nook and cranny. Admit it, you’re a collector now, and your wines deserve to be stored a little better – even if you’re not keeping wines to mature for years, which requires optimum storage conditions, like a temperature-controlled cellar or wine refrigerator. With modular racks like the crowd-funded WineHive, you can keep going, provided that your partner won’t mind the expansion into the bedroom. And keep in mind: wherever you choose to store your wine, make sure it’s a relatively cool, dark space without extreme temperature fluctuations.
Turn your smartphone into your best drinking buddy with apps like Vivino and Delectable. A quick snap of a wine label unlocks information about the wine, including prices and reviews, and you can save all the wines you’ve tried in your account. If you’re relatively new to wine, Plonk will be helpful with its simple guide to grapes, wine styles and food pairings. Another fun app is the WSET Wine Game, which helps you to learn and remember major wine regions.
True wine geeks drink, live and dream wine. So naturally they bring their passion into other aspects of life, like wall décor. If you’re one of them, you’re going to love the prints of British artist Louise Sheeran, inspired by French natural wines. Or, if you prefer educational yet visually attractive wall decorations, have a look at the posters produced by Winefolly.
If you just cant get enough vino, you could even take your wine obsession a tad further by using vinous items as furniture. How about making your own side table out of wooden wine cases, decking out your patio with used barrels, or getting one of these Champagne cork side tables?
Article by Irene de Vette
You visit a particularly stylish restaurant and you're suddenly handed the wine list. Just between us, how do you feel?