A person obviously doesn’t need anything more than a bottle of wine and a glass to drink it from to enjoy a nice wine. But there are things that can definitely enhance the experience. Here are some wine accessories every wine drinker should own that won’t break your budget.
- A good glass. It’s amazing how the same wine, tasted from different glasses, can taste differently. You don’t necessarily have to go out and splurge on pricy crystal glasses that claim to be made for different wine colors and varieties. But for home drinking, it’s nice to have a set of fine stemware. Get something with a large bowl, so you can swirl the wine without spilling it. Don’t fill the glass too full. And avoid glasses that aren’t clear!
- A good cork pull. There are so many kinds of cork pullers these days, it’s hard to know what to choose. My standby is a basic sommelier’s corkscrew. You can get a good one for under $20 — they last forever, you can fit in your pocket or purse and it just feels and sounds good popping that cork!
- A good decanter. Decanting is not just for old, rare wines. Almost any wine, red or white, will benefit from a little time in a decanter. Besides, a lovely, clear decanter looks elegant on a dinner table. If you’re proud of the bottle, you can always put it on the table, too, right next to the decanter.
- A good wine refrigerator. You may not have the space or the funds for your own customized walk-in wine cellar. But for a fairly reasonable price — say, below $500 — you can get a temperature-controlled unit that holds a few dozen bottles. And often, these will have dual temperature controls, so your whites can be chilled colder than your reds.
- Cleaning brushes. Some people don’t like putting fine crystal glasses or decanters in the dishwasher. They prefer to wash these items by hand (I do). There are many soft brushes, of various sizes, that let you do the job easily and safely, without scratching the crystal.
- Good wine books. If you have a passion for wine and want to learn more about it, consider buying some educational wine books or subscribing to a wine magazine. You’d be surprised how knowing more about wine will increase your pleasure. There are obviously too many books and magazines to recommend specific ones, but you might start with something that specializes in the kinds of wines you prefer: say California, Australian or dessert wines. There also are some great books on pairing wine and food.
Salud! And happy drinking.
Steve Heimoff is one of America’s most respected and well-known wine writers. The former West Coast Editor for Wine Enthusiast Magazine and a contributor to Wine Spectator, he has also authored two books on the subject of California wine, including “New Classic Winemakers of California: Conversations with Steve Heimoff,” published in the fall of 2007.