When it comes to outfitting your new wine hobby, a lot can be learned by following in the footsteps of the experts. Wine professionals andsommeliers use some of the best equipment and handiest wine accessories on the market, and you may be surprised to find that high prices and posh products don’t matter half as much as practicality. Contrary to popular opinion, wine experts are not snobs, but they are pragmatic: they need efficient tools to deliver impeccable wine service and to give every customer – and bottle – the quality attention they deserve.Let’s take a look at some of the most essential wine gadgets to get your wine hobby going.
Essential Wine Accessories
There are 7 tools any self-respecting wino can’t live without.
Even Houdini would agree that it’s hard to break into a bottle of wine without a corkscrew. Wine openers come in all shapes, sizes, and price points. Openers range from the beginner friendly bunny ear design, to the wine enthusiast’s choice: the waiter’s friend.
Decent Set of Wine Glasses
A proper wine glass really does make a difference! In fact, a recent study from Japan on Scientific American demonstrated that the shape of a glass affects how the flavor of wine is perceived.
So now that sippy cups and Nalgene bottles are off the table, wine lovers simply have to choose between stemmed vs. stemless, and crystal vs. glass. While some experts argue that stemless wine glasses cause unsightly finger prints and too much heat transfer, the downsides are pretty minimal. As for crystal glass vs. regular glass, crystal wins because it can be spun to have a strong, yet thin rim.
Decanter / Aerator
Aerating or decanting wine is a simple method of exposing wine to oxygen, which helps smooth out harsh tannins and bitterness, while releasing aromas. Sure, wines aerate slightly as they pour from the bottle into your glass, but these tools increase the rate at which oxygen brings forth the wine’s best characteristics. Most often aerating and decanting are reserved for red wines, but they are perfectly suitable for some white and rosés as well.
But which gadget is right for you? Well, the simplest answer comes down to just how long you’re willing to wait before taking the first sip.
Once the cork has been popped, a wine becomes extremely vulnerable to oxidation (excessive exposure to oxygen, wine’s unique form of kryptonite). Keeping oxygen at bay is the only way to prolong how long a wine lasts, and the only way to do that is to invest in a wine preserver. Preservers come in several different varieties, though the most popular is likely the vacuum pump.
Sparkling wine bubbles last just a few short hours after the cork has been removed, which makes champagne stoppers a vital tool for anyone who enjoys sparkling wine. Most Champagne stoppers don’t suck the oxygen out, but they do keep the carbon dioxide (bubbles) in! Just remember to recap the bottle after every use.
Many quality wine glasses are dishwasher safe but that doesn’t mean they should be run through the dishwasher! Unless you’re running a restaurant where glassware will be polished immediately afterward, you should consider hand washing and drying with a lint-free polishing cloth. Polishing cloths are able to efficiently dry glassware without leaving small fabric fibers or unsightly water spots. Why fret about a few fuzz balls and smudges? Well, for example, unpolished champagne flutes won’t deliver that perfect stream of bubbles! A great cheap solution is to get a set of flour sacks (remember those white baby-dribble cloths?). The fancier option is to get an oversized microfiber polishing cloth (a joy for eye glasses too!)–We love both options for home and professional use.
Trust us, this item may not seem important, but it’s well worth it. No memory is perfect, particularly after a few dozen glasses of wine (not that you would ever do that!). Therefore, the only way to remember what you love is to take notes. Whether you jot your thoughts down on a trusty moleskin notebook or a smartphone app like CellarTracker or even Evernote (this is what we use), the important thing is to save your notes in a safe place so that you can look back on them in the future and educate your palate. Not sure how to take wine tasting notes?
Whether you’re outfitting your wine interest for the first time, or restocking your tool box, this essential list of accessories is a great place to begin. With thousands of gadgets on the marketplace today, it can be hard to distinguish between a pragmatic tool and an impractical toy, which is why we value what the real industry insiders have to say. Sommeliers are on the front lines of wine service day and night, and they know better than most what equipment is necessary for an excellent tasting experience. We selected the products mentioned above because they have gained popularity with the seasoned pros, though we’re always on the lookout for the next big thing.
More Wine Gift Ideas
Check out a sommelier-curated list of wine gifts for the budding wine enthusiast.