Seven Essential Wine Tools
First things first, we need to get the bottle open to get at the good stuff. So, even though it is technically possible to open a bottle of wine with a shoe, a good wine opener is a “must-have” for anyone, obviously.
There are a lot of different wine openers to choose from, and I have several, but to be perfectly honest, I am most comfortable with a simple waiter’s friend corkscrew. The waiters friend is by far the most popular wine bottle opener, whether it’s for home use or in a bar / restaurant. The key features of this type of corkscrew are that they’re lightweight, durable & strong, but more importantly, they can easily fit into your pocket when folded. Lots of sommeliers around the world use a waiter’s friend; not only because of the above, but most incorporate a foil cutter & beer bottle opener in the design.
Ok, the bottle's open, so off you go, right? Wrong! You need to get some air into it
Aerating or decanting wine is a simple method of exposing the 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 most white and rosés.
But which gadget is right for you? The simplest answer comes down to just how long you’re willing to wait before taking the first sip. So, for those days when you want your wine and you want it now, you need an aerator. When you pour wine through an aerator, air is forced into the wine, saving valuable drinking time!
Note: not all wine benefits from an aerator. Some young, inexpensive reds actually taste a little worse if they breathe too much.
I have two kinds of aerators, one that fits in the bottle, like a pour spout, and one that I hold separately and pour the wine through.
I have written exhaustively (some would say tediously) about the wonderful world of decanters and decanting, so I won't go on too much here, other than to say (again) decant, decant, decant..... and then decant some more!
Next you need a proper glass (or glasses). If you've been paying attention, then you will know by now that what you are drinking should determine the shape of the glass you drink it from (if not, read this)
I know you may feel that I have a slight Riedel bias, however, to quote the great wine critic Robert M. Parker "The finest glasses for both technical and hedonistic purposes are those made by Riedel. The effect of these glasses on fine wine is profound. I cannot emphasize enough what a difference they make."
While a little air brings out the best in the wine, too much air ruins it, so, if (God forbid) you haven't manged to drink the whole bottle then you need some way of sucking out the air, to keep the wine at its best until you can finish it. (Which at my house is the next night.) If the aerator and decanter are meant to put air in the wine, the wine stopper is meant to keep it out. However, I am not talking about those pretty, ornamental stoppers. I am talking vacuum sealed wine stoppers.
So, the evening is over and the wine is drunk (hopefully the only thing that is!) so now we need to clean up.
Let's start with the glasses. Many wine glasses are dishwasher safe, but that doesn’t mean they should go through the dishwasher! Hand washing is always best, although always bear in mind Maximilian Riedel's advice, "Never do the washing up after more than two glasses of wine!"
Never dry your glasses upside down on a metal rack, as this can chip the rims. I recommend using a Riedel Microfiber Polishing Cloth, which will easily dry and polish without leaving behind any lint. I actually recommend having two Riedel cloths, one for drying and one for polishing.
For extra shine, steam the glass over boiling water before polishing.
Firstly, hold the bowl of the glass with the cloth, and carefully polish inside and out. Then, hold the glass by the base and carefully polish the base.
NEVER hold both the base and the bowl at the same time, as any twisting or pressure can cause the stem to snap.
Admire the perfect result!
I've written previously about how to clean your beautiful Riedel decanter (read it here) and, with a little care, all your glassware should last you for years.
So, I make that 7 essential tools, there are many more non-essential ones, but I don't want to push my luck.
I'm off to open a bottle of the Ferdinand Mayr 2019 Grüner Veltliner, from Aldi, that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. The Boss, on my recommendation, bought a case and, very kindly, donated a bottle as a finders fee. I'll have to recommend stuff more often!