We are all about maximizing the taste of our wine.
That way we can buy relatively inexpensive wine — and have it taste like wine two or three times the price.
As we have mentioned several times before, pairing the right glass to the type of wine you are drinking makes huge difference in how it tastes. But there are other tools and tricks that make a really big difference in wine taste as well.
Here are our current seven favorite wine tools and where to buy them at the best prices we’ve found.
There are a plethora of wine decanters today. Many different shapes and sizes. And a wide range of prices. We even have several different styles in our home. Some work about as well as simply pouring wine into a wine glass.
All decanters are not created the same.
And we have found that price is often not the key to how well a decanter actually works to decant wine.
In essence, the purpose of a decanter is to allow the wine to breathe before you taste it. And that means maximizing the surface area where air touches the wine. But a lot of very beautiful, and very expensive, crystal wine decanters do not do that. Some are quite beautiful. And some are quite pricey. Many are well over $100. Some are even several hundred dollars.
The marriage of function and beauty is a fragile thing.
And one might think it is also expensive. But don’t be deluded into thinking price tells you how effectively a decanter decants wine because in most cases, price simply tells you how pretty it is.
Now don’t get me wrong. We are all for beauty. But not at the expense of the taste of our wine.
Enter Le Chateaux.
The Le Chateaux Wine Decanter is available on Amazon for under $45. You can find a few that are less expensive. And you can a lot that are more expensive. But this one is by the far the best for the price — for several key reasons.
First, it is engineered to hold a standard bottle of 750 ml of wine at the widest area of the decanter — which allows maximum aeration. Many decanters boast they hold that amount of wine. But few do so at the sweet spot of air. This one is perfect for that.
Second, it is only 1.5 lbs empty. The cheaper ones are all pretty close to twice that weight, or more. Filled with wine this becomes extremely important. The last thing you want to do is to drop or spill your wine. Or struggle to hoist it into the air to pour it for your guests.
The Le Chateaux decanter is light. And it is the perfect classic shape.
Price for value you, we are firmly convinced you simply cannot beat this beautiful piece.
Use it with or without the additional wine aerators. Each infusion of air takes off a bit more time needed for airing. But this is such a fine decanter, this decanter can handle the job all by itself — and beautifully.
And of course, that is the time-honored, classic way. You simply leave the wine to sit and breathe. And you allow any sediment to settle to the bottom naturally.
As we have mentioned in past posts, sometimes it is difficult for impatient people (count me one) to wait for wine to decant long enough to get the best flavor.
That is exactly where an aerator enters the wine picture. We typically don’t use ad aerator in place of decanting wine. We use it along with decanting wine.
And what we find is that it cuts 1/3 to 1/2 of the wait time off. And for white wines and some rosé wines, it can cut the the decanting time by 3/4.
So what we suggest is, decant but pour your wine into the decanter through one of many aerator wine pourers on the market today.
Our favorite for the price is Vinabon Aerator Wine Pourer at just under $12 on Amazon. It has both a lifetime warranty and 90-day money back guarantee.
We find, even if we “cheat” on the decanting, kind of aerator helps pretty much any wine greatly. And at least a little bit more quickly.
Secura Wine Aerator Funnel
We often combine a pourer aerator with a funnel aerator as we pour wine into our decanter. And sometimes, at least with whites and pinks, we cheat just a bit more by having our first glass only aired by the two aerators. We decant the rest of the bottle.
And yes, the wine that is decanted tastes better. It just does. Even a white or a green.
But when we combine the two aerators and a decanter, wine is so much better so much faster that it is hard for us not to notice.
You can use both styles of aerators or just one style of aerator if that is your choice and if waiting for classic decanting is just too much for you.
Our favorite funnel-style aerator for the price is the Secura Wine Aerator Funnel on Amazon, usually for about $12. And certainly, you can use this instead of the pourer style. And you can even use it in place of decanting.
But we promise your wine will taste a lot better if you decant — whether you add an aerator or aerators or not. That is particularly true for reds and most especially for a big red like a Bordeaux.
Please don’t try either of these aerators in place of a decanter with big reds. You will be sorely disappointed.
We just very recently got turned on to this little device.
And I cannot tell you we find it a slam dunk although several of our friends swear by it. We are still testing it in our home.
But if you tend to get headaches from the sulphites in wine or if your face tends to flush when you drink a particular wine, this is certainly worth a try. That’s what it is all about.
The Wine Wand Filter by PureWine is designed to clarify, aerate, and filter our sediment and sulphites from your wine. These Wine Wands are a bit pricey. And you are supposed to only use them once. But the price typically does go down if you buy them in larger quantities.
If sulphites in wine pose a problem for you, this is definitely something to look into.
Yes, some wine exporters add sulphites to wine to “keep” it longer. But many wines create sulphites naturally. Green wines (Vinho Verdes) are a prime example. Time actually tends to dissipate naturally-occurring sulphites. But many wines that are intended to be consumed early, say a Beaujolais Nouveau, have considerably higher natural sulphites than other wines.
So if your taste tends towards these younger wines, you might find this device particularly helpful.
We are certainly open to your feed back on this — because, like I said, the jury is still out for us.
There are two kinds of wine buckets on the American market today.
You have the classic wine bucket that chills wine with ice and water. And then you have the techie-version that chills a bottle without using ice and water.
With the techie version you usually chill the device in your freezer, then pull it out to chill your wine. These tend to work great for champagne (be sure to get one large enough to accomodate a champagne bottle) and some whites that taste best cold. But for many wines we find the techie versions are hard to regulate temperature. They remain, at least for a fairly good while, a few degrees above whatever your freezer temeperature is, although they do go up in temperature more slowing than the classic ice bucket.
We find the old-style at lot more controllable and versatile for a wide variety of wines. The drawback is of course, that you have to wait for the water to chill. And mon dieu if you run out of ice in August!
And then we found this kind of hybrid wine chiller. The hybrids rock.
Our favorite hybrid chiller is the Wine Chiller Bucket by Insul8 available on Amazon for under $20. Can be used with or without ice.
We recently found this wonderful gadget. And we are sold. Every kitchen, every bar needs this. Of that we are convinced.
How much fun is it to drink room-temperature coffee? The same coffee that was wonderful when it was hot, tastes flat as the Devil at ambience.
Temperature matters to taste.
Each wine varietal has an optimal temperature. But how do you know? Do you just chill a white and hope for the best? Or do you chill it and just taste it at different stages hoping one glass will stand out…although not really having much control over which glass it is and not being able to get there at will.
Yes, there have long been wine thermometers. But they are cumbersome, hard to use, and frankly it seems like very time we stick a traditional wine thermometer in the glass we get a different reading. It often depends on how deeply in the glass you place the thermometer.
But we have found this Vinturi Flexible Stainless Steel Wine Bottle Thermometer available on Amazon for around $15 to be easy to use and very reliable in getting our wine — and helping up keep our wine — at the optimum temperature for taste.
It slips over the bottle on the outside of the bottle. And it makes it easy to see if you need to add or subtract ice from the bucket. LOVE IT!
Without a doubt, this is the best $15 investment we have made in our wine stash.
If we have dinner party, we can be pretty sure the bottle of wine we serve is going to be fully consumed. But in every day life, that often is not the case.
We found this kind of vacuum system years ago at a high-end wine shop and we have been using one version or another of it for the past 30 years.
Our favorite for the price is the Vacuvin Wine Saver Pump with four Corks available on Amazon for around $20. Additional corks are readily available if you have multiple bottles open at once.
And it works great. The flavor of the wine is retained for weeks with these. It is the air that degrades wine over a period of time (longer than hour or so you decant it). So when you pump the air out of the bottle with one of thes littel gizmos, the remaining wine in the bottle does not come into contact with enough air inside the bottle to lose flavor. So you can keep leftover wine with minimal taste change for a couple of weeks, depending the varietal and the ambient temperature.
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