Jan. 10, 2013 - Issue #899: The games we play
Sorting through the necessities
A rundown of useful and not-so-useful wine gadgets
Aside from looking pretty, decanters serve a valid purpose: they allow the wine to "breathe," exposing it to oxygen in order to release its aromas and flavours, as well as mellowing out the tannins in red wine. However, not all wines need to be decanted; only tannic red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux, and Barolo really benefit from decanting, as well as older wines in which sediment has formed—decanting allows you to remove the sediment so you don't end up with a mouthful of grit.
Though they have recently exploded in popularity, wine aerators are worse than useless. They range from cheap and simple to outrageously expensive and ornate, but all claim to enhance the wine's flavour through the introduction of oxygen, thus releasing the aromas and mellowing out the tannins. But wait, isn't that precisely what decanters do? Yep, you can achieve exactly the same thing by decanting your wine—or even just swirling it around in your glass. Furthermore, aerators often work too well: they force the wine through an unnaturally rapid aging process, making it taste like days-old wine instead of a fresh bottle. Some even claim to age wine several years in just a few seconds, and because the vast majority of everyday wines under $20 should be consumed within a year or two of being bottled, aerating a cheap bottle makes it taste flat and lifeless.
A good corkscrew is a necessity that will save you a lot of time and effort. The classic winged corkscrew is one of the worst, second only to the basic twist-and-pull. Both of these are usually made out of cheap metal that shreds the cork and drops cork bits into the wine. I much prefer a good-quality waiter's corkscrew, which are sleek and efficient, though they do require a bit of practice to master. The most expensive corkscrews are lever-style and these are probably the most foolproof type to use, though they are rather bulky and not practical for travel.
If the topper is hinged, meaning that you flip the top part over and press down to form an air-tight seal on the bottle, it's useful for sealing partially-finished bottles. If it's basically just a decorative cork, it serves no other purpose than its questionable aesthetic value.
Wine Glass Charms
Although charms may seem like useless, cutesy-pie items for people who like to over-accessorize, you need only host a gathering of wine drinkers to quickly discover their value. Unless you don't care about swapping glasses (and the latest cold virus) with your guests, wine charms are extremely useful in identifying everyone's drink. Of course, you could mark glasses with a lot of other stuff—tape, twist ties, lipstick—but if you happened to receive some wine glass charms for Christmas, don't toss them away even if they look tacky; they're bound to come in handy at some point. V vueweekly.com comments: powered by Disqus
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