Everyone is gadget-happy these days so it’s no surprise the wine world has jumped right in.
But much like you don’t really need to upgrade your iPhone every time a new one comes out, there are many wine gadgets out there you just don’t need.
So we’re going cut to the chase and tell you what you should have, what you may want to splurge on for fun – and what you should just avoid.
For Basic Serving
1) Wine glasses are key. Better glasses really do make a difference. (That means ditch the red solo cup.) Glasses made from fine, lead crystal enhance the wine. Consider stemware from Bormioli, Riedel or splurge for Zalto, suggests Joe Campanale, executive beverage director/co-founder, Epicurean Group.
However, they can be expensive, around $45 a glass. Thanks to new technology though, there are more non-lead, fine-crystal options out there that are cheaper.
But for the love of God, please no colored or etched wine glasses.
To start, serving your boss a glass of wine that says “Girls Night Out” with cartoon characters all over is just embarassing. More importantly, you can't see the wine! “Wine colors are beautiful and can be really informative about what your about to drink,” says Campanale.
2. A decanter. It helps the wine relax and get some air, not to mention it looks really pretty on a dinner table. They range in all sizes and prices. You can never go wrong with a decanter from Riedel, say Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen, a.k.a. the World Wine Guys, who are wine, spirits, food and travel writers.
But Alyssa Rapp, CEO of Bottlenotes, turned me on to the Decanter America, and now it’s all I use. It’s not cheap at $150, but it stands tall and is easy to pour. Sometimes I find it hard to get the last drops of wine out of the decanters with wide bottoms. That’s not a problem with the Decanter America, and there’s no way I’m wasting wine.
3. A good corkscrew. No surprise Campagnale, a sommelier, likes the old-school, double-hinge, waiter-style corkscrew, which runs about $10.
But I’m clumsy, uncoordinated and have been known to pull the cork out in 52 pieces with that thing. So I must admit, I really love my Screwpull Lever Corkscrew (about $90), much like the original Rabbit Corkscrew ($50).
Granted, it’s not professional, but it does the job in three seconds flat. And the bonus? Cork in one piece.
For the Gadget Geeks
1. The Coravin. Next to my kids, this is one of my favorite things. It basically allows you to pour a glass of wine without corking the bottle. Magic.
It shoots argon gas – which is odorless and nontoxic – into the bottle through the cork. And then the wine is forced up through this thin needle.
So if you just want to pour a glass or taste a bottle you are aging, you really want to consider this.
And they just upgraded the system – the Coravin Model Two is now available. So you can be the first kid on the block to have one.
2. Non-liquid ice cubes. I love my whites cold. And most days, I don’t have to patience to wait for them to be super-chilled.
Thankfully there are a bunch of products out there that simulate ice cubes without watering down your wine.
I use the Kim Crawford Wine Gems. They are cut from fluorite and you have to freeze them for about five hours beforehand. But then you just drop them in your glass and they keep your wine at that perfect cool temperature without watering down the wine with ice.
They’ll run you about $76. I know it’s a lot -- but they look really cool – like the marbles you used to play with when you were a kid. (Millennials not included.)
For Employee Morale
Many of you know and love the original Corkcicle. It’s shaped like an icicle with a cork at the top that you drop in your wine bottle to keep it chilled.
But they have added new products, so check out the Corkcicle Canteen. It’s basically a thermos that keeps your wine at the perfect temperature for up to 25 hours, according to the company.
It’s perfect for the beach and tailgating and comes in a bunch of different sizes and colors, says Tracey Pernetti, owner of The Write Occasion, a gift and stationery store in Wyckoff, N.J., where I first saw it.
But the best part? You can put your company’s logo on it. How’s that for team morale?
For Much Later
And finally, stay away from those wine aerators. They don’t really work. In theory, they are supposed to help the wine get air faster and so your first glass tastes a little smoother.
But if it’s an older wine, you’re going to use your pretty new decanter and let the wine sit for a bit anyway.
And if it’s young, just uncorking it will do the job just fine. No need to waste your money on a gadget here.
And if you are using a great new product—let me know and we’ll share.