I have one. I almost never use it. If I were drinking lots of aged red wines, or unfiltered wines with lots of sediment, it’d probably be getting more use. Also, I’m seldom pouring out a whole bottle at once. That said, they are pretty and would work well at dinner parties.
2. Openers (there are lots of different kinds of openers. I’ve tried many. And I have strong feelings on which is the best.) It's a little bit of a Goldilocks situation.
a. The winged variety of corkscrew. Frankly, I hate these (no offense to this particular brand- I just hate them in general.) They suck. In my experience, about 8 times out of 10, they just destroy the cork. If I’m successful in getting it out, it inevitably leaves little bits floating in my bottle. No thanks. We can do better.
b. The Rabbit. I was super excited to get one of these. I assumed it would streamline my life. Sadly, it did not. It does a good job about 70% of the time, but the other 30% has been sort of disastrous. Once, it pushed the cork in, only about halfway. I was able to stop it going all the way in, but as it pulled the cork back up, it also drew red wine up around the sides, thereby spraying my dining room in a shower of red droplets. For the price, I don’t’ think you really get the most bang for your buck- so to speak.
c. The waiter-style corkscrew. This one is my favorite. It is cheap, easy to use, and almost never fails me. It may take a little bit of practice to get down pat, but once you do, I think you’ll never go back. I do like the double hinged variety. It allows for more sort of "ratcheting" control. And most come with a built in blade for cutting foil.
d. The weird two pronged variety of opener. I’ve never used one and am scared to try. In the words of Lucille Bluth, “I don’t understand the question, and I won’t respond to it.”
I have the Vinturi. I really like it. I wouldn’t have bought it for myself (it was a delightful Christmas gift a few years ago.). But I love having one and have since purchased quite a few of them as gifts. They do everything a decanter does and are much more versatile. You can pour one or two glasses at a time, take it on a picnic, wash it easily... If you're choosing a product that will remove sediment and let oxygen into your wine, skip the decanter. This is the way to go. (They also make a model specific to aerating spirits. I haven't used it, but have heard good things.)
4. Chillers. (For those of you who don't want to live on the edge by throwing a bottle in the freezer and setting a timer like I do...)
The only one I've personally tried is your classic marble chiller- good for keeping things cool. I have friends who own one and we often bust it out when drinking white wines at their place. It does a good job.
If you're curious about investigating other types, there are several out there on the market. They range from low to high tech.
5. Wine charms. These are frivolous and unnecessary, for sure. However, they’re fun. If you plan to entertain frequently and want to help your guests remember whose glass is whose, they’re a fun little item to own. There are several variations on the theme. I personally find the stick-on mustaches quite delightful, though the ones I own are a little more conventional- but hand made!
6. And, the best of all, the Vacuum Wine Saver. This thing is THE ONE. Lots of you probably have one, but if you don't, get one now. You can keep wine fresh for a long time with these suckas. Especially in the fridge.
Do you have any favorite wine accessories? Disagree with any of my opinions? Have you uncovered the surprising genius that is the two-pronged opener? Feel free to share in the comments.
UPDATE: My awesome friend, Kevin (hopefully he'll be guest-posting soon,) informs me that the two-pronged wine openers DO serve a purpose.
In a wine where the cork has become degraded, a regular corkscrew will just shred it and you'll wind up with giant chunks of cork in your bottle. Soooo, those two prongs are meant to slip in around the outside of the wonky cork and gently wiggle it up out of the bottle. He's never had to use one, but that's theoretically what they are for. Learning!
UPDATE 2: This comment comes from one of my amazing classmates, Dave Specter of Bells Up Winery. "One small thing. I love the vacuum sealers and they do their job well. But even with the sealers, wine can pick up odors from your fridge from stronger smelling foods. It also happens with unopened bottles, which is why I don't advise leaving a bottle in the fridge for terribly long - opened or not." Good advice, Dave!
Did you know?
A great way to keep red wine from staining is to immediately cover the spill with baking soda. Then you can rinse it out, or vacuum it off and then spot clean with water, depending on the location of the spill. Seriously. I accidentally sloshed on someone’s couch one time. Baking soda right away meant there wasn’t a trace of the stain left! It was miraculous.