With the gift-giving holidays closing in, you’re probably wondering what to get that wine geek friend or relative of yours. So, in the spirit of the season, here are a few suggestions for nifty gadgets.
Since this is usually the first item wine drinkers buy, and gift-givers give, your intended recipient may already have a slew of them. So, let’s look at a few of the more unusual, unique, or forgotten types.
- Laguiole corkscrews: Cutler Jean Dubost designed these waiter-style openers with several custom inlaid handles. Handcrafted in France, they’re good-looking, and usually priced from $80 to $150. Your friend has one already? Get him or her a set of Laguiole steak knives instead!
- Pocket model corkscrew: In this design, the twist handle is compactly located to double as a guard covering the helix screw. Offered by Screwpull and Le Creuset, they’re $25 to $30. A variation of the Screwpull model comes with a spin handle, allowing cork removal with one finger. Voila!
- Ah-So cork puller: To remove the cork, this model uses two prongs inserted between the cork and neck of the bottle, instead of a helix screw. This is considered a must-have back-up cork puller, especially for damaged or soft corks. Various designs and styles range from $29 to $75.
- The Durand corkscrew: This is a hybrid of an Ah-So and a helix corkscrew. Specially designed for use with older corks, the device comes in a beautiful box made of, what else, cork. About $125.
- Stand-mounted openers: To use this device, the bottle is held upright in position or set on a table top with one hand holding a set of clamps against the neck, while the other hand operates the helix screw. From $50 to $100.
You’ll find several varieties of the stick model with digital or analog readouts, as well as one where the temperature read-out clips around the side of the bottle. If you really want to impress, check the temperature of the wine in each guest’s glass before handing it to them. Good chance they’ll think twice about challenging you on any trivia wine questions. From about $5 to $50.
Varying in size, their purpose is to add oxygen to the wine as it’s poured into the glass. Most users agree it does indeed give the wine more aromatics, as well as increase its smoothness. Several are available from $40 to $70.
Once some wine is poured out of a bottle, a pocket of air is created. This hastens the aging of the remaining wine, which is never as good the next day. Several products, from sprays to vacuum devices, can remove that oxygen. Vacuum devices employ a stopper and a hand pump for the job. This works reasonably well, but a better option is the pressurized spray bottle of inert gas, which displaces the oxygen. These are available at wine stores and online for $8 to $15. New to the market is the Coravin system.
This system allows access to the wine, without pulling the cork. It uses a needle to extract the wine, replacing it with argon gas to fill the void. In theory, you can continue to revisit the wine bottle for years in your cellar, without ever having to pull the cork. About $300.