If you only enjoy an occasional class of wine, you probably don’t need much more than a corkscrew and a few glasses. However, if you’re a serious wine drinker — or want to be a serious wine drinker — or you entertain often, you probably need a few more accessories in order to get the most out of your favorite beverage.
But walk into a home store or wine shop or browse an online wine store, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of corkscrews, stoppers, aerators, decanters and other gadgets. And that’s not even getting into the variety of glasses to choose from.
But that’s no reason to be intimidated and resolve to use a dollar-store corkscrew and juice glasses instead. While you probably don’t need every accessory on the market, there are some must-haves that will enhance your enjoyment of wine while making it easier to store, open and serve.
Properly storing wine both before and after you open the bottle can make a significant difference in how the wine tastes. Over time, wine corks can dry out and allow oxygen into the bottles, which can cause the wine to spoil and turn to vinegar. And as anyone who’s inadvertently sipped a glass of spoiled wine can tell you, it’s an unpleasant experience.
The solution is to store wine bottles on their sides, which helps keep the corks moist. If you plan to store wine for more than a few weeks, invest in a wine rack that allows for proper positioning. And if you’re a serious wine drinker and particularly enjoy white wines, which are best served chilled, a wine refrigerator is a worthwhile investment. Storing wine in a wine refrigerator allows it to stay at a consistent temperature; a regular household refrigerator often has different temperatures in different sections, a problem that’s exacerbated by the opening and closing of the door. With a wine fridge, your wine is kept at the ideal temperature up until the moment you drink it.
If a wine cooler is out of your budget, at the minimum, keep a stainless steel wine bucket on hand to keep white wines chilled during dinner parties or picnics, and invest in some good quality wine stoppers. Again, keeping wine fresh requires limiting the amount of oxygen that gets into the bottle. If you don’t finish the bottle of wine, a stopper is a necessity. If you drink expensive fine wines or want to be sure to remove all of the air, consider investing in a stopper that pumps the air out of the bottle and allows you to re-cork it to keep the wine fresh longer.
It seems that everyone wants to build a better mousetrap, and you can find all sorts of corkscrews that promise to open wine bottles faster and more easily than any other. When it comes to buying a corkscrew, it largely comes down to preference. The model that works for you and allows you to easily open a bottle of wine is the best. If a corkscrew requires too much effort or mangles the cork (and you don’t want pieces of the cork in your wine) look for a different model.
In addition to a corkscrew, you might also want to invest in a foil cutter to remove the wrappers from bottles.
When you serve wine at a dinner party, you can either place the bottles on the table or decant the wine into larger containers. Decanting allows you to keep the sediment from older red wines out of the serving glasses and aerate wines that taste better after breathing for a while. Decanters range from elaborate, fine glassware designed for specific types of wine to simple carafes, and the choice is yours, depending on your budget, entertaining style and how often you decant.
More important is the type of glassware you use to serve wine. While you can certainly sip your vino from any type of receptacle, using the proper glass can enhance your enjoyment. Red wine glasses have larger, wider bowls, while white wine glasses, designed for enjoying the more subtle aromas and flavors of white wines, have tapered bowls. If you enjoy sparkling wines or champagnes, narrow flutes are the best.
While these are the basic necessities for enjoying wine, as you develop your taste and appreciation for wine, you may find other accessories, such as wine journals, wine charms, drip collectors and more that enhance your enjoyment. Take time to explore the wide variety of wine accessories, ask questions and build your collection as you go.
About the Author: Erica Glynn is a blogger and confirmed shopaholic who has nearly 50 different wine glasses in her collection — a number she calls an occupational hazard, considering that she writes about wine, food and entertaining for a large lifestyle website.