In addition to generating new and different wines from ever evolving regions and varietals, the wine industry is also quite good at generating new “gadgets.” From glassware to pourers and bottle openers to chillers, there always seems to be a new idea out there, and like most things in life, some of the new “inventions” are good, while others — not so much. Here are some of the new wine accoutrements that we have found to be useful and that really work.
Wine Wipes have been around for a while and we have carried them in the shop for years. They are individually-wrapped, disposable cloths that have a solution on them that removes red wine stains from your teeth. They are intended to be used right after you consume red wine to remove the red tint on your teeth that darker, fuller bodied reds leave behind. Everyone is different in how much wine stains their teeth, and similarly with Wine Wipes, results will vary. However, we have found them to be quite effective. Each individual wine wipe retails for $.75.
We just recently added CapaBunga wine caps to the collection here at the shop. Retailing for $5 for the regular wine cap and $11.50 for the Champagne cap, these ingenious latex wine caps seal a wine bottle so it can be laid on its side without leaking or just to cap the bottle overnight. The Champagne version has a “collar” that attaches to the bottle neck; the cap then twists on to the threaded collar to not only preserve the effervescence, but also to keep the cap from blowing off. Like the regular cap, the Champagne version allows you to lay a bottle flat in the refrigerator without leaking.
Aerating of your wine is a frequent flash point for some amplified discussion among wine consumers. The discussion breaks along the lines of those who prefer to aerate their wines to get them to evolve more quickly in the glass. Others prefer to see how wines evolve on their own, without the introduction of additional oxygen that comes from aeration. If you are going to aerate we have found two new devices for accomplishing your task. We now carry a line of aerators made by a company out of Napa called Menagerie. Retailing for $29.95, the aerators are crafted out of pewter and come in designs that include a cowboy boot, a moose, an eagle, several breeds of dogs and a bass. All come with a replacement gasket for securing the aerator in the bottle. On top of the clever and original design, they aerate perfectly.
We recently brought to the shop a self-aerating glass. Made from shatter proof thin plastic, the stemless wine glass has a small “platform” with aerating holes in it attached to the bottom of the glass and elevated a bit. When the wine is poured into the glass it flows through the holes, aerating the wine as you pour. They sell for $29 for a set of two.
By no means new, one of our bestselling wine accessory products continues to be Wine Away! Invented by a group of women from Walla Walla, it is the most effective wine stain remover we have found. When we were still working at wineries in California prior to opening the shop, a guest spilled glass of Malbec on a bright pink shirt I was wearing. We sprayed the shirt right away with Wine Away. After finishing my shift we laundered the shirt. The Wine Away took every bit of stain out and I still wear the shirt to this day. Wine Away retails for $12 for a 12-ounce spray bottle.
I do need to mention a “gadget” we continue to hear about that absolutely does not work. There are a number of products being marketed that claim to remove sulfites from wine. Sulfites have, to some degree, become the “criminal du jour” for folks with wine allergies. No doubt there are wine consumers who react negatively to sulfite load in any given wine, but that is only one potential cause of wine allergies — many factors can cause a reaction. Sulfites are naturally occurring in wine from the fermentation process, and removing them takes a fair amount of chemical manipulation resulting in artificially altered wine that really doesn’t taste very good. The “wine wands” being marketed as capable of removing sulfites absolutely do not work. The process is far more complex than waving something through the wine, so we encourage caution in your purchases of this line of devices.
Stop by the shop because we always add new items with the goal of improving your overall wine experience. As always, if you have questions on specific wine accessories, we are happy to answer them if we can.
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George Balling is co-owner with his wife, Mary Lancaster, of the dinner party, a wine and gift shop in Coeur d’Alene by Costco. The dinner party has won the award for best wine shop in North Idaho twice, including for 2018. George is also published in several other publications around the country. After working in wineries in California and judging many wine competitions, he moved to Coeur d’Alene with Mary more than 10 years ago to open the shop. You can also follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/#!/dinnerpartyshop.