So, you walk into a bar or a restaurant and you order wine of course.
Have you ever noticed the kind of glass they serve your wine in?
Have you ever seen the way the waiter opens the bottle of wine and that little round ring he puts on the neck of the bottle? Why is that after all and what’s the point?
When I first started paying attention to these things, I was very intrigued to know the purpose of each and every little tool and accessory regarding wine. Do they actually add up to the value of the whole experience or they are just a fancy way to attract attention?
Well, I did and I found out that some of these tools are really necessary after all. If you love drinking your wine and want to enjoy the best qualities it can offer you each time, you will try to attain at least some, if not all, of these tools and accessories.
So, how about we take a look at these wine tools, their use and even how to choose the correct ones in certain cases?
Here is a list of 11 tools and accessories regarding wine…
- Wine Glasses
- Wine Chillers
- Wine Decanters
- Wine Racks
- Wine Bottle Openers and Wine Poppers
- Wine Collars
- Wine Stoppers
- Wine Thief
- Wine Journal
- Wine Aerator
- Champagne Stirrer
Let’s elaborate a bit…
Wine Glasses are actually quite important, perhaps the most important of the tools laid here. The correct choice of stemware will bring out the best characteristics, aromas and flavors of the wine you drink, while the opposite, will limit the possibility of you enjoying a great wine in “all of its glory”.
However, “how do I make the right choice?”
Well, the first thing you have to keep in mind is that red wine glasses are taller and with a larger bowl. A difference which you may have also seen when you have wine served for you in a bar or a restaurant. The main reason this happens is because red wine needs to come in contact with air in order to bring out its complex aromas and flavors to the fullest. A larger bowl serves that purpose easily.
White wine glasses are smaller and narrower, more like shaped in the “U” letter form. In this way, the aromatics of the wine are released directly towards your nose. A narrow glass will also help to maintain the wine in a cool temperature since white wines are supposed to be drunk before they cool off.
Then, we have the Champagne glasses, those flute, tulip shaped ones that are meant to be used for sparkling wines. This shape allows for the bubbles to be pushed on the top of the glass and remain there for the longer part. Apart from that, the best flavors and aromas are guaranteed to come out when drinking a sparkling wine in this glass. Theses glasses are also commonly used in cocktails with sparkling wines in wedding receptions and glamorous events.
Another type of wine glasses are the all-purpose glasses. These glasses can be used for red and for white wines as well. Plus, they are the easiest and best choice for big cocktail parties and festive occasions.
There are also many other different kinds of wine glasses that are used specifically for certain grape varieties. They are even named after the grape variety they enhance the best and those are the type of glasses used by sommeliers and wine connoisseurs.
So, while all of the above refer to a choice of wine glass according to the type of wine, there can be other distinctions as well. Design and construction are such distinctions, where factors like the shape of the rim, the width of the bowl, the material (glass / crystal) and the thickness of the glass play a major role in the choice of wine glasses.
Wine Chillers are used to maintain wine bottles in a cool temperature. There is a wide range of wine chillers, from wine-serving coolers to dual zone coolers and wine refrigerators.
How do you choose the perfect wine chiller for you?
Well, let’s start with the glacette. The glacette is a double-walled device that maintains the already-chilled wine in a certain temperature. It is the simplest form of a wine cooler and the most commonly used one in family tables.
Then, there is the wine-serving cooler. It is a small table unit which is most appropriate for white, rosé and sparkling wines and it works with ice or with an electric cooling mechanism. It is great for achieving the perfect serving temperature.
A mostly used type of wine cooler for wine lovers is the refrigerator style units. They are used too for more than one wine bottles and there are quite a few different kinds of them. They can be single or dual zone coolers, according to which you can either have a cooler where the same temperature applies for all the bottles in it or another where two different temperature levels can be set in two different sections of the same cooler. Most of these coolers allow the user to choose the temperature he or she wants while others have a thermostat. These units can be built-in or freestanding and they come in larger sizes and greater bottle capacity according to your preference.
Wine decanters are glass “vessels” where you can pour the wine and serve it. They facilitate a wine’s aeration and, therefore, you will most likely see old vintages served in them. Wine decanters are usually used in fanciful dinners or formal occasions as they serve the purpose of a better presentation. There is a large variety of shapes and designs so you can choose the one of your liking. However, the wine color would be elegantly visible through a clear glass decanter, and a thinner material would avoid wine dripping. Quite important to be aware of: a wine decanter in not meant to be used for storage of any kind.
Wine Racks are storage devices for wine bottles. They facilitate wine aging as these racks have a certain orientation that facilitates the whole procedure. In most racks, the bottles are placed with a slight slant downwards, towards the neck of the bottle. This orientation prevents the cork from drying, as the wine stays in constant contact with it, and it does not allow for the wine to spoil.
They can be made from a lot of materials such as wood, steel, etc. depending on the number of bottles they are designed to hold. There are tabletop racks, modular racks or even wall-mounted racks. Wall-mounted racks are frequently used for decoration purposes as well.
Wine Bottle Openers and Wine Poppers
Wine bottle openers are used of course to remove the screw cap and cork from a bottle of wine. There is a great variety of wine bottle openers, however, the most common one is, the widely known to everyone, corkscrew. It is a twisted pointed metallic spike, attached to a handle, that is screwed into the cork and then pulled for the cork to be extracted from the bottle. Some corkscrew types are the wing corkscrew, the sommelier’s knife or “waiter’s friend”, the twin prong cork puller, the lever corkscrew, the mounted corkscrew, the electric corkscrew, etc.
Wine Poppers, on the other hand, are used for the same reason but follow a different way. A spike is driven through the cork, carbon dioxide is then pressed to release a short burst of gas and the sudden pressure causes the cork to dislodge. However, this is not a widely preferred method as some synthetic corks cannot be penetrated and bottles non-resistant to pressure might break.
Wine Collars are metallic rings placed around the neck of the wine bottle and they are used to absorb any wine drips that may emerge from pouring. The most common form of a wine collar is a plastic or silver ring with an interior lining of felt that absorbs any possible dripping.
Wine Stoppers are wine accessories that are used to close wine bottles before storage, once their cork has been removed. They are usually used before the bottles are placed in the refrigerator. Wine stoppers come in many sizes, materials, shapes and designs. The most common types are the cork wine stoppers, the plastic wine stoppers and the rubber wine stoppers. The bottom of a wine stopper is usually made out of the aforementioned materials, whereas the top of them can be made from several others, such as plastic, wood, precious metals, etc.
A Wine Thief is a glass or plastic pipette used while the process of winemaking takes place. With this tool, you can remove a small amount of wine from a barrel or a carboy for tasting purposes. It is widely used from home winemakers as well, in the form of transferring the wine from one container / barrel to another, racking, or to the wine bottles.
A Wine Journal is a journal where you can register notes regarding wines already tasted. Every wine journal has a catalogue where you can register information such as producer, region, grape varieties, price, date, name of store or restaurant, tasting notes on the wine, different sections according to the type of wine (white wine, red wine, sparkling wine,…), rating section, space for pasting labels, etc.
They are quite handy to wine lovers apart from wine experts as you have all the wine information as well as your first impressions about the certain wines for comparison.
A Wine Aerator is a small hand-held pour through device or a decanter top device that allows for the wine to come in contact with the air. They actually mix the air into the wine as it flows through. The oxygen exposure increases and causes aeration.
The most common type of wine aerator is the injection-style hand-held acrylic ones. There are also other types such as in-bottle aerators and decanter top aerators. Wine aerators are usually made from food safe plastic or glass and the decanter aerators from stainless steel.
A Tastevin is a small shallow silver cup or saucer used by sommeliers and winemakers to judge the maturity and taste of the wine. Tastevins usually have a convex shaped bottom and a shiny faceted inner surface that catches as much light reflecting it through the wine. These tools were mainly used in the past, however, nowadays with the electric lights, their practical use is limited. Sommeliers now wear them with a chain or ribbon around their necks to honor tradition.
A Champagne Stirrer is also a device used mainly in the past, to reduce or remove the bubbles. It is a stick, also named “champagne swizzle stick”, often made out of silver, crystal or ivory and usually with a flayed end like a branch which was placed or stirred in the champagne.
This tool is now rarely used exactly due to its use. It is supposed to destroy one of the most valuable aspects of champagne, since it actually speeds the release of bubbles and therefore, reduces them eventually to zero.
So to wrap up…
As you have seen from the above, some of the wine tools and accessories laid in this post are essential in order for us to enjoy the flavor, aromas and texture for any kind of wine we wish to the fullest. Some of them, are practically handy and help us reduce anxiety through the process of winemaking and wine consuming while others are more of traditional traits of wine tasting history.
More or less, most of these tools, are necessary for us to discover some of the greatest and loveliest aspects of wine. Whichever your choices may be, I hope you give some of them a try and see for yourselves.
So, what do you think? Are there any other important tools and accessories that can help in the experience of wine tasting or wine making? Any addition you might have in mind will be appreciated!