It’s no secret that I love a good glass of wine or three. Pouring myself a glass of wine in the evening signals that it is time to wrap up my work day and it’s time to relax. So the other day I opened a bottle of wine, and had the following conversation with Grant:
Grant: “Mom, I can tell you really love wine.”
Me: (slightly uncomfortable that my 10 year old has made this observation) “You’re right, I do enjoy having a glass of wine… How can you tell?”
Grant: “Because you have so much gear!”
Gear! Of course! So in the spirit of that conversation, I thought I’d share some of my favorite wine tools… basically, a few essentials any wine drinker should have.
Even though it is technically possible to open a bottle of wine with a shoe, a good wine opener is a “must-have” for anyone, obviously.
There are a lot of different wine openers to choose from, and I have several, but to be perfectly honest, I am most comfortable with a simple wine key (aka waiter’s corkscrew) I have the Rabbit electric opener as well as the handheld opener and both are great, but for me the easiest and fastest is the wine key. I also carry one in my purse (and have DIY artwork based on it), so I will hopefully never need to use my shoe to open a bottle of wine. (I was surprised to hear that many people find this difficult to use… um, it’s pretty easy.)
A foil cutter is a really good thing to have on hand. Sometimes the foil sleeve will slide right off, but for the most part you will need to cut the top of the foil sleeve.
I have friends who pull the cork straight through the foil, which leaves a jaggedy, foil mess through which they pour the wine. Not a good plan, and not proper wine etiquette. Instead, simply cut the top off. It’s much safer, too (says the girl who has sliced the crap out of her hand on occasion on those foil sleeves… they’re sharp!) My preferred wine opener also has a little knife for cutting the foil, so it’s extra handy.
Now that you’ve opened your bottle, you might think it’s time to start sipping, right? Not always.
The two wine tools which I think are most important have to do with air… adding it in, as well as keeping it out. I am primarily a red wine drinker, and with most reds, you want the wine to “breathe”. Most people are familiar with this term, which is exactly what it sounds like. You want the wine to be exposed to the air for a while. When exposed to the air, the wine’s aromas will open up and the overall flavor characteristics should improve. A sip of wine taken one minute after opening will not taste as good as a sip of that same wine 30 minutes later.
There are some really beautiful wine decanters out there, but sometimes I am simply opening a bottle so that I can have a glass, just for me and I don’t want to use a decanter for one glass. I don’t want to wait for the wine to just sit and breathe in the glass because I am an impatient wine drinker, so I use an aerator.
I have two kinds of aerators, one that fits in the bottle, like a pour spout, and one that I hold separately and pour the wine through.
(I told you I always carry a wine key in my purse? When I travel, I also take the wine aerator that fits in the bottle.) It is amazing the difference that a wine aerator makes. When you pour wine through an aerator, air is forced into the wine, saving you valuable waiting time for those days when you want your wine and you want it now.
Note: not all wine benefits from an aerator. Some young, inexpensive reds actually taste a little worse if they breathe too much. I’ve heard it said that some whites benefit from aeration, but I can’t see that being the case. (But I’m totally up for a taste test and experiments, you know, for science.)
Most nights, I am the only one in the house who is enjoying wine. Sometimes Handsome Hubby has a glass with me, and some nights I drink alone… which sounds very much like a bad country song.) Which brings me to my last “must have” tool. If the aerator is meant to put air in the wine, the wine stopper is meant to keep it out. However, I am not talking about those pretty, ornamental stoppers. I am talking vacuum sealed wine stoppers.
Popping one of these stoppers into a bottle of unfinished wine, then sucking out the air helps to keep the wine at its best until you can finish it. (Which at my house is the next night.) While a little air brings out the best in the wine, too much air ruins it.
So there you have my essential wine tools: a good opener, a foil cutter, an aerator and a vacuum stopper. (We can talk about proper glasses another day….)
It should be noted that Grant and I had the conversation about my wine “gear” as I was using the vacuum pump to seal a bottle of wine. Now whenever he sees me pouring a glass, he offers to seal the bottle for me.
I let him.
Do you have a favorite wine tool you can’t live without? What is it?