Wine accessories that make a difference

Not all wine accessories are created equal and I personally prefer not to succumb to too many gadgets when it comes to wine appreciation. There are, however, a few items that make a big difference in opening, serving, and preserving wine. Below are my top six wine accessories that I use on a regular basis and would recommend as gifts for wine lovers.


1. Le Creuset

Champagne Opener

Being a Champagne lover I have put in the necessary time in learning how to open a bottle and am pretty happy with my 99% success rate. The key is to twist from the base with one hand, while holding the cork firmly with your other hand. Many wine lovers, however, shy away from opening a sparkling wine for fear of explosion, and/or embarrassment. And even seasoned Champagne drinkers will face a very stubborn cork from time to time. This opener keeps the whole process very neat, slick, and fool-proof. There's even something James Bond-like about it! It's very simple to use: just remove the foil and cage of the Champagne bottle, and line up the star arms with the groves in the cork so it sits snug. Twist gently to open. Beware: it's not for any sparkling wine - just those which have the special groves in their cork - which is Champagne and many traditional method sparkling wines, but not necessarily Prosecco or other sparklers. £32 topnotedesign.co.uk


2. Eto Wine

Wine decanter & preservation in one

A very sleek and sophisticated way to keep your wine fresh for a few extra days, taking the the pressure off deciding whether to open a bottle and finishing it. You simply open the bottle and pour the wine directly into the Eto which acts as a decanting process - opening the wine up and giving it a little breathing opportunity. You then push the neck down - similar action to making a French press coffee. This will eliminate any air in the vessel. You can serve wine straight from it and continue to plunge down to push the air out which keeps the wine protected. It looks very stylish on the table and fits in the door of your fridge. It's easy to clean and fairly simple to reassemble -once you get the hang of it. £119 etowine.com




3. DropStop

Wine Pouring Discs

Pour without spilling

There's nothing worse than dribbling wine all over your lovely tablecloth- or worse yet: your wine companions! Adding these foil discs to the wine bottle keeps wine drops from trickling down and gives you a sense of control while pouring multiple wine glasses. They are very simple to use– just roll up and insert halfway into the bottle, and pour. They do make a difference in the experience just from the elegant and clean way they allow you to pour. I always use them for Mummy Wine Club wine tastings, but eventually I started using one whenever I lay a tablecloth down for a meal to avoid the drips. Pack of five £7.70 topnotedesign.co.uk



4. Eva Solo

Wine cooler sleeve

This is an absolute picnic and beach trip essential! It lives in the freezer and is filled with a special gel that is still pliable when frozen and allows the sleeve to slip over a bottle of wine. It will fit over anything from a slim Riesling to a chunky bottle of sparkling- thanks to the stretch shoe-lace cords that keep it connected. Consider it like a portable ice bucket for outdoor adventures. I also slip it onto light reds to chill them down slightly on a summer's day wine picnic. £22 nordicnest.com



5. Corkscrew

Keep it simple, stupid

I'll be the first to admit that I do not use a fancy corkscrew. I have over a dozen of them at home but my favourite one is a very simple double-hinged waiter's friend that I received as a gift at a winery in Portugal nearly 15 years ago. I would not recommend splashing out on any electric gizmos or bunny ear gadgets. In my opinion the cork screw should not only open bottles with ease but also easily travel. Thus it should fit in a pocket or picnic basket without any fuss and if you happen to misplace it, no problem! I can't link to the exact one I have but it's similar to this Pulltex double-lever waiter's friend. £6 wineware.co.uk



6. Wine Fridge

Cool, dark, humid, and consistent

There are several excellent brands of wine fridges out there. Eurocave being the leading one that is also used in professional restaurant settings. For my budget and available space at home, I opted for a CDA Wine Cooler five years ago and it's still going strong. It can hold around 46-50 bottles depending on the sizes and allows for dual temperatures. I keep the whites at 5C at the top and reds at 15C at the bottom. The best thing about having a wine fridge is always having a good choice of wines ready to open at optimal temperature. In particular having red wines available at true 'cellar temperature,' or 15C, makes all the difference. £529 currys.co.uk



Stay tuned for the second part of this series on wine accessories where I tackle the great glassware debate. In short: wine glasses matter! And there are a number of glasses out there to suit all budgets and occasions. Read about my favourite brands, shapes, and sizes for wine glasses next week, and in the meantime why not pick out a few tasty bottles to try these wine accessories out on.

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