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www.goodeatsfanpage.com • View topic - Wine Tools

Wine Tools

Here you'll find tutorials, how-to's, gear discussions and everything you need to make your kitchen a well-oiled machine.

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Wine Tools

Postby whiskMEaway » Thu Dec 17, 2009 8:53 pm

First we'll start with wine openers.

There are many ways to get a bottle of wine open, ranging from a swiss army knife, to a shoe. The best opener, is one of the simplest. A double-hinged 'waiter's corkscrew' is my weapon of choice when opening wine. They usually cost $5-$15.

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Another fun option for extracting corks is the Ah-So aka the "butler's friend". Legend has it, butlers would use this puppy to sneak the cork out of their master's bottles, pour out some good wine, replace it with juice or cheap wine, and reseal it. These days, it is used more for show or to extract a fragile (old) cork.

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There are lots of expensive corkscrews/corkpullers out there these days including the Rabbit, butterfly corkscrews, and even gas-charged openers that make opening wine impressive. But unless you have money to burn, people to show-off to, or get one on closeout, they aren't worth the extra dough. Save the money and spend it on some vino!

So what should you pour your wine into once it's open? There are TONS of options when it comes to glassware. You can use anything from a tumbler (like the Italians do) to a $100+ hand-made crystal glass. I recommend a simple, stemmed glass with a thin rim and a bowl that is deep enough to properly swirl your wine in when 1/3-1/2 full. It doesn't necessarily have to be crystal (especially if you are sure you'll break it the first time you try to wash it), but lightweight is important. It really just depends on what you're comfortable with. And no, you don't need 5+ different types of glasses for every different type of wine. A simple "white wine glass" like the one below is great for everything (even red wine). For bubbly, it is a good idea to invest in some flutes. The bubbles will last longer and it will taste better as a result. What about stemless glasses, you ask? If you never wash anything by hand, stemless glasses are great for tossing in the dishwasher. They aren't my favorite glass for wine, but they serve a purpose. But if you can get your hands wet, all you need to wash a wine glass is warm water. No soap needed, usually. In fact, just rinse and buff the glass. Soap residue can ruin what could have been a good glass of wine.
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Now, what do you do if you just want a glass or two and don't want to polish off a whole bottle? There are all sorts of wine preservation techniques out there. Don't waste your money on vacuum sealers-they don't really work! The best way to make sure your wine doesn't oxidize overnight, is to invest in a can of Private Preserve. It is a can of gases that are heavier than oxygen that creates a blanket between the wine and it's foe, oxygen. It feels empty, even when full and can set you back $10-20. But if you are constantly not polishing off a full bottle at a time, this will guarantee that it will taste like it did when you first opened it. Plus, it has enough gas in it to preserve over 100 bottles, so you'll get your money's worth over time.

Now for the fun stuff (aka. the super-winegeeky stuff):

One of my favorite ways to show off to oenophiles is by sabre-ing a bottle of sparkling wine. Sabrage is the act of popping the cork off of Champagne using a sabre (i use a chef's knife - See, yet another way it isn't a unitasker!). There are all sorts of videos on YouTube featuring this technique that was developed on the battlefields. You don't actually 'cut' the glass. In fact, you use the blunt end of a knife and hit it along a seam of the bottle causing the cork (along with some glass) to go shooting off. There is so much force, that all of the glass is pushed out and away from the bottle and not into the wine. If you try this, please be careful and be sure to watch some of the videos on YouTube of what can happen when not done properly.
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If you are an avid Port drinker, you may want to invest in a set of Port tongs. These little unitaskers are high on my winegeek wishlist, but they are hard to come by. They are a pair of tongs that are bent in a ring-shape at the end and used to open up bottles of old vintage port that have very weak corks. To use them, you heat them up in a fire/coals, clasp them around the neck of a Port bottle and allow them to weaken the glass near the bottom of the cork. Then with the application of a cold, wet towel, the glass will snap and you'll have an open bottle of Port. Fun? Yes. Practical? No. Unless you are a Fladgate or Fonsecca heir/heiress.
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For something that is fun to pull out at winegeek parties, invest in a porron. This vessel that originated in Spain allows multiple people to drink from the same bottle without spreading a ton of germs. Plus, it just looks cool when you can do it right. Think of it as a beer bong with class.
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Other wine tools:
Wine glass markers. There are many options out there to mark whose glass is whose when you have company over or multiple glasses out. There are decorative charms and bands that are great if you like that sort of thing and will actually use them, but otherwise a set of overhead pens will do the trick. Just write your name on the base or bulb of the glass and unless it gets wet, you're good to go.

Wine Chillers: So you forgot to chill a bottle of wine for the dinner you're about to sit down and enjoy. Don't fret! There are $50-$300 contraptions to chill that bottle down in a flash! There is also a cheap trick. Place the bottle in your (plugged) sink and cover with ice. Add just enough water to cover the bottle. Add 1/4 cup of salt (kosher, rock, whatever). This will chill your wine in a flash...no fancy contraption needed.

Wine Aerators: There are all sorts of contraptions on the market that will help your wine 'breathe'. Truth is, most are just gimmicks. If you open a bottle and it seems super 'tight' and you must do something about it, pour it out into another container (decanter, clean bottle, pitcher, whatever) and funnel it back into the bottle. Or just swirl it vigorously in your glass and be patient. The wine will open up as it is in contact with air, so just give it time...

There are so many wine tools out there and this just scratches the surface. If you see any out there that i haven't covered, just ask! Or if you have a specific question about any of the tools i discussed her, just ask! I am happy to help you better enjoy the world of wine. I am a winegeek, not a winesnob - so ask away!
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Re: Wine Tools

Postby Grovite » Fri Dec 18, 2009 2:02 pm

Great breakdown!! I always wondered about aerators and various glass styles (I have found that the Zin tastes better out of a "Burgandy" glass as opposed to other types of red wine glasses).
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Re: Wine Tools

Postby Butterbean » Mon Dec 21, 2009 12:32 pm

Very nice, Whisk! Ikea has very nice, reasonably priced wine glasses that fit your criteria.
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Re: Wine Tools

Postby whiskMEaway » Mon Dec 21, 2009 11:19 pm

Butterbean wrote:Very nice, Whisk! Ikea has very nice, reasonably priced wine glasses that fit your criteria.


Ikea and Pier 1 are both great places for glassware!
(Unfortunately i now live over 200 miles from the nearest Ikea, but last time i was there i got a decanter for $20! Definitely made it worth the drive.)
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Re: Wine Tools

Postby Norm357 » Fri Jan 01, 2010 6:59 am

Great report!
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Re: Wine Tools

Postby honeycomb » Sun Jan 03, 2010 1:16 am

Thanks, Whisk!

I love the trick about overhead pens to mark glasses. I do have some charms, but when we're hanging out drinking from wine or martini glasses with guys they seem too "girly" to me. Hmm, would I just find them in office supplies? Same as dry-erase whiteboard markers, or different ink?

The sabre thing is cool to the nth. I don't know if I'm brave enough, but what drama!
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Re: Wine Tools

Postby whiskMEaway » Sun Jan 03, 2010 1:23 am

honeycomb wrote:Thanks, Whisk!

I love the trick about overhead pens to mark glasses. I do have some charms, but when we're hanging out drinking from wine or martini glasses with guys they seem too "girly" to me. Hmm, would I just find them in office supplies? Same as dry-erase whiteboard markers, or different ink?

The sabre thing is cool to the nth. I don't know if I'm brave enough, but what drama!


Yup, the pens should be over by the dry erase markers in your office supply store. Dry erase work, too, but I think they rub off far to easy...

I popped a bottle on NYE using the sabrage technique right out my front door, in my PJs... Not sure if my neighbors were staring at me because I was wielding a giant chef's knife and champagne bottle or because I was in red silk pajamas and a puffy winter coat-LOL.
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Re: Wine Tools

Postby honeycomb » Sun Jan 03, 2010 1:57 am

whiskMEaway wrote:
honeycomb wrote:Thanks, Whisk!

I love the trick about overhead pens to mark glasses. I do have some charms, but when we're hanging out drinking from wine or martini glasses with guys they seem too "girly" to me. Hmm, would I just find them in office supplies? Same as dry-erase whiteboard markers, or different ink?

The sabre thing is cool to the nth. I don't know if I'm brave enough, but what drama!


Yup, the pens should be over by the dry erase markers in your office supply store. Dry erase work, too, but I think they rub off far to easy...

I popped a bottle on NYE using the sabrage technique right out my front door, in my PJs... Not sure if my neighbors were staring at me because I was wielding a giant chef's knife and champagne bottle or because I was in red silk pajamas and a puffy winter coat-LOL.


It was the red silk pajamas. :wink:
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Re: Wine Tools

Postby todd » Tue Jun 01, 2010 12:41 pm

My favorite!
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Re: Wine Tools

Postby tj » Mon Nov 15, 2010 8:30 am

Whisk hit it on the head with the waiter's corkscrew. A very handy gizmo that takes up little space, even in a pocket.

My Victorinox Swiss Army Knife has a very useful corkscrew on it also. It is nicely machined and not to be confused with those on cheaper knives.

Not sure if it has been mentioned above, but for those of you who have trouble with corks, try pressing down on the cork before inserting the corkscrew. Often this will break a ring of crusted wine around the cork's bottom edge. No need to work too hard at it, but it can help.
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Re: Wine Tools

Postby Wes_M » Thu Dec 16, 2010 9:12 pm

I would post a picture if I knew how- and had one handy. So instead I'll give you a keyword search you can plug into google.

Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator

I am not affiliated with them at all, but I have consumed wine poured through it. Open a fresh bottle, pour a glass through- and yes!! It seems as if the bottle was opened 45 minutes earlier. I was so obviously impressed by my host's little wine gadget that he and his wife gave my wife and I one as a Christmas gift. I've never seen anything like it, and yup- it works deliciously. Don't know how much it costs (can't be much), but if time is money- and you wished you had opened it 45 minutes ago... its invaluable!
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