Posted by: David Stewart | July 8, 2013

Top Tools for Home Wine Enjoyment

You don’t need to be a wine snob or even a collector to have some basic, handy tools for enjoying that occasional bottle you bring home. But especially if you have started squirreling away a few bottles here and there, you should consider building a basic set of tools for working with with wine bottles. This is the list of essential tools I have built up over time. Most of them are pretty inexpensive on Amazon or a a trusty bottle shop.

Waiter’s Corksrew:If you stick to screw-top bottles, then you don’t need to worry about extracting a cork. But generally speaking the majority of good wines still need a corkscrew.

I have tried all different manner of cork removers, from the elaborate to the ultra-cheap. This is the type that works best for me, although it will require a small amount of practice to master it. The double hinged variety is the one to look for.

Here’s how it works: You twist the screw part into the cork until it’s fully drilled in. Then position the pry bar on the lip of the bottle to lever the cork out. Here’s where the double hinging comes in: you use the shorter pry bar to slip the cork out part way, and then the longer pry bar will fit to move the cork out the rest of the way.

This type of screw does require you to master the initial insertion of the screw into the cork. That can be a little tricky, because the corkscrew needs to dig straight down into the body of the cork and this type of cork screw doesn’t offer any guidance. But if you can master this move, this is an ideal tool.

Foil Cutter: Mine is like this one, but any of the foil cutters available from Amazon should do the trick.

Although the waiter’s corkscrew usually has a knife on it to cut off the metal foil capsule, a separate foil cutter tends to make a cleaner opening for the corkscrew. And many bottles have such an artistic or distinctive foil cap that people often like to collect them.

Vacuum bottle resealer: If you are like me, it’s difficult or unwise to finish off a whole bottle of wine at one sitting. Leaving the bottle open is a bad idea because free exposure to air causes the wine to oxidize and go bad more quickly. Some people will just reseal the bottle with the cork (or screwcap), but there is a better way: the Vacu Vin.

I bought my first one of these in 2001 in Chile, after tasting some local wines. The Vacu Vin allows you to pump some of the air from the bottle and should preserve the wine longer.

Champagne bottle resealer: The Vacu Vin works nicely for still wines, but sparkling wines require a different method to keep the bubble fresh. The old myth that a silver spoon will seal the bottle and prevent the wine from going flat is nonsense and has been debunked. The Vacu Vine will likely cause even more bubbles to be expressed, and could push the stopper out

This type of bottle resealer works by twisting down on the neck of the bottle and sealing it. Then you can pop the bottle of bubbly into the fridge. Although I don’t drink sparkling wine a lot, the few times that I do, I don’t need to feel pressured to drink the whole bottle if it’s just my wife and I sharing a bottle, for example, for a quiet New Years Eve celebration at home.

example of a bottle sealed with a vacu vin and a 375 ml bottle sealed with a cork

375ml “split” next to a regular-sized 750ml bottle

Split: You can buy a bottle of wine in so-called “splits.” These are 375 ml half-sized bottles, but have the same neck configuration as a full-sized 750 ml bottle. That means you can re-use the cork from the original bottle.

Often when I open a bottle of wine, I will just pour half of it into a clean split and seal it up. That way I won’t be as tempted to drink more than I should.

(Thanks to Joe Morris for this tip.)

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