To enjoy good wine, keep your gadgets simple


Stella Fong

Stella Fong’s arsenal of wine gadgets includes, counterclockwise from top, a WineSkin bag, Govino stemless wine glasses, a sommelier corkscrew, Screwpull/Le Creuset corkscrew, foil cutter, decanter, Wine Clip magnet and funnel with screen.

When using and collecting wine gadgets, I follow my husband’s keep-it-simple principle. Though I am intrigued by all the latest tools for opening wine bottles, and for enhancing the taste of wine, I keep my everyday tools on the basic level.

For wine opening I use the Screwpull, which is easy to retrieve out of a drawer and opens a bottle of wine quickly. These days I will use an old-fashioned sommelier corkscrew if I am desperate because I admit to being inept at centering the metal corkscrew over the cork, and then spiraling it straight and deep. The final removal of the cork can prove to be a challenge. If the corkscrew does not go straight down, a heroic yank could result in pulling out a partially broken cork.

I am always impressed with the fine-restaurant sommelier, who gracefully converses with guests while opening a bottle of wine with ease. But the opening of the bottle, which may be marked up two to three times in price at a restaurant, should not be a race when dining, but an experience to be savored.

Mary Kennedy, co-owner of Wine Market and Deli, uses an electric corkscrew to open her bottles of wine. “He sits in the charger,” she said. “He does his thing and he never gets lost.”

On rare occasions, I admit to pulling out the supposedly faster-than-a-speeding-bunny Rabbit Corkscrew Pull. I acquired this tool at a trade show I happened by when they were closing the show down and the vendor was trying to give away products. It was watching the salesperson remove a cork from a wine bottle in the advertised “3 seconds flat,” and it convinced me to schlep this somewhat bulky tool home. Nowadays, this also comes in an electric version.

Now that the wine is open, there are limitless ways to enhance the tasting experience. Countless tools will aerate the wine, which is supposed to make the wine smoother and improve its flavor characteristics, especially its fruit notes. What you drink your wine from—what material it is made of or what its shape is—will influence how you taste the wine.

There are many aerating tools out there. Pour spouts incorporate oxygen and range in size from a plastic spout the size of your thumb to a fist-size model that sports a small holding reservoir that drains the wine down a narrow tube. Whether you chose to buy an aerator to oxygenate wine straight into a glass or into a decanter, be ready to spend on the average of about $30. If you are serious about wine, a glass decanter can cost upwards of $100.

Several years ago we received the Wine Clip magnet as a gift from friends. I admit that we were skeptical and a bit leery, so my husband and I submitted it to what seemed to be a fair test. We opened a bottle of wine, a young cabernet. We used similar wine glasses, as shape can influence taste, and poured wine straight from the bottle into one glass and then put the clip around the bottle to pour the second glass.

Well, the “clipped” wine displayed enhanced smoothness, and more fruit in taste and aroma. To make sure we were not falling to the power of suggestion, we poured each other wine in new glasses without letting the other know which one had been magnetized. We came to the same conclusion. The theory is that the magnetic fields oxygenate the wine as it is being poured.


Stella Fong

A Venturi wine aerator, small and simple.

But my go-to aerating tool is a nice decanter with a long curved neck and flat round bottom. As wine is being poured into the glass container, oxygen hitches onto the liquid. Then, as it sits on the bottom of the broad base container, oxygen continues to integrate into the wine. Remember, oxygen ripens fruit and can lift aromas, or in other words, aerates wine.

Carolyn Korb, manager of City Vineyard, said she is a fan of decanters “because I like how it brings out the good characteristics of the wine.” And though she likes the commercial aerators, she believes there is nothing better than aerating wine in an elegant glass decanter.

Then there are wine glasses to consider.

“In order to get the most out of my wine, I like to drink from a crystal glass,” said Sue Ryquist, owner of the newly opened Simply Wine. “I find Riedel of the highest quality and best value. I think a good-quality glass almost disappears. It is very light, easy to hold, and has a thin lip that barely comes between the wine and my tongue.”

Korb also recommends having a set of good stems. Your best bet is to buy
some glass stemware with a round bowl. Splurge and get some Riedel, Stozle or Spiegelau stemware. Nice glasses can also be found in big discount stores and retail outlets.

If you do not believe me, pour some wine into a plastic cup and then some into a wine glass. You decide which tastes better. The difference is evident when comparing wine from a nice glass stem to a diner style glass. You want the least barrier between your taste buds and your wine. Though the stemless glasses hold a coolness factor, they do not keep a white wine as cold, just from the warmth of your hands.


Stella Fong

Stella prefers simple, but if you’ve got a few extra dollars, Simply Wine has a Wine Emotion machine that dispenses and preserves wine for up to a month.

There are many preservation systems on the market, where the wine lover can inject nitrogen or carbon dioxide into a bottle of leftover wine. In general, the integrity of the wine will change only slightly by the next day unless it is fragile wine, one that is many decades old, for instance. I usually just keep the wine on the counter with its cork in, in a cool spot, and get back to it the next day. If it is a white wine, it goes in the refrigerator.

However, do venture to the bar at Simply Wine, as they have a new Wine Emotion machine that dispenses and preserves wine for up to a month. If you have many thousands of dollars to spare, this is the gadget for you. Simply Wine owns one of the few machines in the five-state area.

Mary Kennedy of Wine Market and Deli, touts a socially fun wine gadget, the Alfresco Wine Picnic Set, which has three stakes that independently hold a wine bottle and two stemmed wine glasses.

“Bill (her husband) and I think it is hysterical,” she said. “What a great idea.” Then Bill chimes in and enthusiastically says, “People can sit on their lawn chair and have their wine. They can be with their friends.”

When I am on the road I always have a WineSkin in my suitcase, just in case I find a bottle of wine I cannot live without. It is a bubble-padded wine-bottle-shaped bag that easily slips into a carry-on roller bag.

On road trips I usually carry plastic wine cups, and Govino makes a variety of shatterless flutes for champagne, red and white wine and even beer. Before the high security at the airport, I also carried a sommelier wine opener, but these days I depend on what the hotel front desk can dig up for me.

There are countless gadgets and tools that can enhance wine. Whether it is taste, storage or service, the most basic tools can do the job well. Just keep it simple.



Leave a Reply