Where better to start this blog than with the tools you'll need to enjoy it. Supplies, equipment, the ensemble, the whole shebang. I have compiled my personal list of 5 essential wine tools that are key to enjoying wine the best and simplest way.
The wine tools selection of stores like Williams Sonoma can resemble more of an arms race than a well curated group of tools. The fact of the matter is that no one needs the $120 bunny ear corkscrew, the Riedel glasses, or inert gas pouring machine to enjoy a glass of their favorite wine to the fullest. Wine is easy, do it right.
Here is our list of the 5 most essential wine tools you should have to properly enjoy and assess any vintage you come across.
Waiter’s Corkscrew - $10
The gold standard! Working wonders since German Wine Hero Karl Wienke designed it in 1882, the Waiter's Corkscrew or Sommelier Knife has proved its value time and time again. Compact, solid, well engineered, and handsome are the traits of this badass little guy. You'll find these online and in nearly any wine or kitchen store for a fair price. I prefer the double hinged version as it allows more even leverage throughout the pull. Look the part of a wine lover and get this thing.
Here's a pretty good video of the right way to do it.
Vacu Vin - $10
Not ready to finish that 97 point bottle of 2003 Barolo? I envy your self control.
There are a number of ways to save your wine for the future, from simply re-corking to filling the bottle with an expensive nitrogen gas. Pretty much all methods seek to limit wine contact with oxygen.
In our home and after tastings we use a simple hand vacuum pump called the Vacu Vin ($10). Its incredibly simple and sucks air out of the bottle to delay oxidization. It works great and the caps are reusable (We still have our original pump and stopper set from 15 years ago!).
Here's a video of one in action.
ISO Tasting Glasses - $7.05
Focused flavors, excellent clarity, responsible sizing, and glass shattering value - use what the pros actually use. These little puppies are the international standard for wine and spirits tasting. They're designed to concentrate aroma at the rim, allow for optimal air exposure, and color assesment. They're also on the small side which encourages you to interact with your wine by pouring little and often. I use mine with almost every tasting to ensure a good baseline for all my notes.
You'll find these at any good kitchen or wine shop, or you can get these Speiglau ones delivered with Amazon Prime. Welcome to the big leagues!
Wine Chiller - $12
I love drinking fine Sauvignon Blanc at room temperature! - Said no one, ever. No one likes to miss out on the delicate floral aroma and cleansing acidity of a good white wine and there is no need. While a freezer pack will do the job as well, the ladies love a man with an attractive rapid chiller freezer pack, designed to get your wine to temp in under 5 minutes. It's $12 and it's form fitted. Stop drinking warm whites, right now.
Decanter - $20
Got a Hermitage your grandfather gave you 15 years ago? For the love of all that is holy, get a decanter! Go down to your local Thrift Shop/TJ Max/Williams Sonoma/whatever and pick one of these things up.
Enjoying a any fine aged wine or a big bold red is all about opening it up, exploring its complexity, and feasting your eyes on its incredible color. Drinking from a bottle is not going to do the trick for nearly any great aged vintage. Expose your wine to some oxygen and watch it bloom before your tastebuds. Any decanter will do, just make sure it's big enough for your wine, made of glass or unleaded crystal, and clean.
Here's a video on decanting.