Read these 10 Wine Accessories Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Wines tips and hundreds of other topics.
Decanting old wines, just prior to serving, helps to ensure that the clarity and brilliance are not obscured by any deposit that may have developed over time. It's best to pour slowly and avoid decanting the last ounce. Decant young wines as much as several hours before they are served to give the wine a chance to breath, simulating a stage of development that might normally be acquired after years of aging. It's best to pour quickly, even up-ending the bottle – the idea is to expose the wine to air. No matter what wine you are decanting, be mindful that wine kept in the decanter for a longer time than necessary to develop its optimum bouquet detracts from the wine. Ask a wine expert how long the bottle you bought should be decanted before you serve it. You can stop the decanting process by closing the decanter with a decanter stopper.
Look for the thinnest rim you can find. Wine always seems to taste better when you drink it from a thin-rimmed glass. If you are a wine lover who is shopping for stemware (or registering for your upcoming wedding), keep in mind that many sets of "good crystal" have really, really thick rims. And some crystal glasses are too small to really appreciate the wine inside. Also, look for wine glasses that have large bowls. This allows you to swirl the wine and release its aromas. Large wine glasses also look really attractive setting on the dining room table. If you can only afford one set of wine glasses and plan to use them for both reds and whites, select a medium-sized bowl.
Hey, nice legs! You'll hear that next time you swirl your wine glass at a party. Legs refer to the wine that trickles down the inside of the glass after it has been swirled. In addition to getting that compliment, you will also be helping your wine to breath, which in turn gives you a better glass of wine. Swirling the wine in your glass allows oxygen to get into the wine. This changes the taste slightly and balances it out. It can even soften a wine which may have been opened too soon.
Wine decanter designs vary from purely functional to very extravagant. Some sit in a stand that, with a gentle orbital movement, increases the breathing of your wine with minimal disturbance. Reminiscent of decanters seen in Europe, the unique "doughnut" design aerates the wine more efficiently since it pours through both sides, allowing flavors to develop more fully. Whatever decanter you buy, just remember to choose one with the broadest surface. This allows controlled exposure to air, affecting all the little flavor nuances that make wine so enjoyable. The sloped spout makes pouring easy and the construction material - looks like glass, sounds like glass, but is as lightweight as plastic - makes it easy to handle.
There are wine glasses used for sipping and then there is a special type of wine glass used for decanting. It's a good idea to have a decanter on hand for wines - usually heavy reds - that need to be exposed to air for a time before drinking. Decanting a wine can help to separate the clear wine from the sediment wines produce. Decanting wine also introduces air into the wine, letting the wine breath, releasing the aromas and enhancing the flavors. The process is usually used with vintage ports or older red wines, but all reds can benefit from an hour of breathing.
When you shop wines online, don't forget to shop wine accessories too. For the wine enthusiast, there are countless contraptions made to enhance your wine storing and pouring experiences. Here are some popular ones: Wine rack: whether you are looking for traditional wooden wine racks in solid pine or redwood cedar or a wild new design in metal, a wine rack can do more than just hold bottles. It can serve your inner decor while you are serving your guests. Wine charms: these have become a fun way for guests to keep track of their wine glasses throughout the evening. Party planners can have a field day with these. Or they make excellent gifts. For the sailor in your life, shop wine charms with nautical figures; for the animal lover in your life choose flashy felines. There seems to be a wine charm for everyone. Bottle stopper: stop trying to squeeze that cork back into the unfinished bottle of wine. Bottle stoppers make it an easy clean up. Shop bottle stoppers with your favorite hobbies or characters in mind; choose a rooster, red pepper, dice, Santa Claus or any other number of figurines that can perch on top of your bottle.
Once you've stocked your cabinet with fancy stemware, take care of it properly so it lasts. Keep these things in mind and your stemware collection should continue to please and impress for years to come. - Crystal's porous surface absorbs kitchen smells, musty cupboard aromas and dish soap. - Never just take a glass from the cabinet and pour wine into it. Just before serving, always rewash your stemware in very hot, sudsy water and rinse it over and over again. - Polish with a lint-free cloth laundered without fabric softener (which leaves an invisible film). - Stick your nose in the glass and inhale - you should smell nothing. If you smell an odor, wash it again. - Always make sure the wine glasses are scrupulously clean as even the slightest traces of dirt and grime can alter the behavior of fine wines and champagne. - Always store the glasses standing upright in a dry cupboard, or covered shelf. - If washing glasses by hand, use the hottest water possible and very little detergent. - There are sponges available that are specifically designed for cleaning the inside of wine glasses. - If you use a dishwasher do not use detergent. Wash the glasses with hot water only. Depending on the type of glass, a dishwasher can easily break the stem during the wash cycle. How to test if a wine glass is clean: - Dip a glass into water and see if droplets form on the surface. Or srinkle salt inside a clean, wet glass. It should adhere evenly.
If you plan to begin a wine cellar in your home, it's important to be mindful of the temperature at which to keep wine. Because wine is a living liquid, you can actually kill it by keeping it in temperatures that are too hot or too cold. You need a refrigeration system that keeps your wine cellar at 55 F to 58 F with 55 to 75 percent relative humidity. If you maintain the ideal temperature in your cellar, you will age your wines gracefully and keep them at their peak for many years. Remember that humidity levels of 80 percent or higher will cause mold to form and rot the labels. Accessories for your wine cellar can include wall art featuring vineyards, wine glasses, bottles, attractive humidifying fountains, rolling wine cellar ladders for those hard-to-reach bottles stored up high, a custom-made door in which you can place your family insignia or some other symbol, decorative flooring, decorative ceilings, special lighting to enhance the ambiance of the room and furniture like small tables at which you can invite friends for tastings.
Perhaps the most important wine accessory is the corkscrew. Here is a breakdown of the kinds of corkscrews out there so you have the proper knowledge before making your choice. Lever style: you clamp the opener on the bottle and let the levers do all the work. This one is quick and easy to use, but expensive and bulky. You can generally buy one of these for between $30 and $150. It works on all sizes and types of wine bottles. Waiter: Use the serrated knife blade to remove the foil on top, insert the screw and pull the cork out. Many upscale restaurants prefer their waitstaff use the double hinged system that catches the lip of the bottle twice as the cork is pulled out. This is slim and efficient, but takes some practice to use correctly. They range from $5 to $30. Watch out for inexpensive ones, which can have dull knives and worms that bend inside the cork. Twisting pull: A circular rim is placed over the lip of the bottle that centers the worm (screw) over the cork. As you twist the handle on the corkscrew, the corkscrew is braced against the bottle and the cork begins to emerge from the bottle as you twist. These are generally less than $50 and reliable. Cheaper ones have higher rates of destroying the cork. Winged: As you turn the corkscrew the wings lift higher and higher. When you think you have drilled the worm into the corkscrew far enough, you grasp the wings and slowly bring them toward the bottle. This action causes the cork to pull out of the bottle. This reasonably priced corkscrew (you can get one for less than $10) is usually reliable unless the worm isn't far enough into the cork. However, if the worm goes past the bottom of the cork, cork fragments can get into the wine. Cheap models with weak worms will not lift the cork out of the bottle. Two-pronged: There are two slim metal prongs you enter into opposite sides of the cork in the bottle. Enter the longer prong first, then rock the device back and forth slightly until the prongs are fully entered. Gently pull up with a little twist, or rocking motion. You can buy one of these for $10. The slim tool puts no hole into the cork, so there is little chance of broken cork getting into your wine. It works especially well with an aged bottle of wine whose cork has deteriorated. However, it can be hard to use and the prongs can be bent out of shape. Pump: These insert a long needle through the cork into the air space above the wine. It works by forcing air between the space in the bottle of wine between the cork and the wine. As you pump the device, air pressure forces the cork out of the bottle. There are good ones on the market for in the $20 range. Some experts caution that forcing air into the wine bottle is not good for the wine. Stationary: This one uncorks with just a pull of the handle and mounts elegantly to your bar or table stand. It opens all sizes and types of wine bottles including flange tops. It can also come with a stand. These can cost $25 to $100. If you have a wine cellar, perhaps you want to go a step further than the corkscrew and buy an uncorking machine. Uncorking machines: with the simple pull of a lever in one direction, you will be able to twist the corkscrew in, and then pull it out of the bottle. Reverse direction and the cork will spit out and you are ready to do it again. The entire process takes less than 10 seconds. The design of these machines makes opening wine not only efficient, but also impressive. This is an easy - but not cheap - solution to opening your bottles. Expect to pay more than $100 for the most basic model that clamps to a tabletop. And for advanced models the price can exceed $500.
Wine accessories designed for carrying wine and glass are varied. Some carry six bottles, others carry 12. Some are made of Italian leather and others are made of platinum. Some roll like a suitcase, some are in the form of backpacks and others are carried like a picnic basket or tote bag. There is luggage that fits only wine, there is luggage that fits only wine glasses and there is luggage that fits both. Choose the design that best suits your lifestyle. Cost can range from $30 to more than $100, depending on the material and size.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|