Tracking down the perfect bottle of wine is just the beginning; next comes finding the perfect accessory to make the serving and preserving of wine just right. Thousands of wine gadgets are available in the market, from wine chillers to wine openers. But which are the latest clever items to give to the wine connoisseur who has everything?
The Eva Solo Catalyzer Pourer and Wine Collection, designed by Tools Design and manufactured by Denmark's Eva Solo, won the 2012 international Red Dot Award in the product design category. The collection consists of a pourer, a cutter, a corkscrew and a bottle stopper, as well as an opener for beer and water bottles.
The most innovative feature is the pourer. The integrated magnet system allows the wine's flavor and bouquet to fully unfold, while at the same time moderating the tannins. The pourer treats the wine in a process similar to natural aging, giving it a more balanced taste. The other utensils are made of stainless steel, with some components integrating a rubber coating.
Another magnetic device for aerating wine comes from an American Master of Wine, Patrick Farrell. He says he was initially skeptical about such a contraption. “My initial thought was, ‘No fucking way,’” he told Wine-Searcher. “But I tried it on a Barossa Valley shiraz and I found the wine softer and longer. Then I got a Médoc, and same results.”
Farrell is now president of Innovative Technologies, the company behind an aerator named BevWizard. This sits on the rim of the bottle, and as the wine is poured, it goes through a magnetic field, as well as being aerated.
Farrell says that when "tannic" beverages such as young red wine, oaked white wine or oaked whisky are simultaneously aerated and passed through a magnetic field, there's a chemical change in the compounds that cause bitterness, making them softer.
“It can also eradicate brettanomyces. It is also quite good on methoxypyrazines, so if you have an overcropped wine, it does a pretty good job on [for example] Chilean cabernet and merlot. It can tame the aggressive herbaceousness in New Zealand sauvignon blanc too.
There’s a similar device for whisky, and the company also has a patent for a bigger version of the BevWizard for wineries. "In essence it would do the same as micro-oxygenation,” says Farrell. "You could use it for pumping over, or during the blending process if you wanted to smooth some lots out.”
Then there's the Vignon Wine Thermometer, which was created by Danish designer Jakob Wagner and developed by Menu. The thermometer received the Red Dot Good Design Award in 2008 and the iF Product Design Award in the same year. To take the temperature of a wine, the thermometer can be attached like a belt around the bottle. The temperature will display on the digital screen within minutes. The thermometer comes with a red and white temperature leaflet and retails for $30.
American Tyler Colman, author of the Dr. Vino blog and two books about wine, suggests Govino glasses, branded as the "go-anywhere wine glass." Govino glasses look like crystal but are made out of plastic, and are recyclable and reusable. Colman recommends them for outdoor dining. A 4-pack costs $12.95.
Once you've had a glass or two, you might not want to finish the bottle. There's a host of use-at-home vacuum pumps on the market to protect your wine from oxidation, but American Eric Corti has gone one step further, inventing the Air Cork. "When I would do the vacuum and pump it, I’d think, 'Well, it’s not really a vacuum – I can still see a half bottle of air in there, so you know it’s not like you can crush the bottle...' So I started to think, 'Well, how could you close that off at the level of the wine?'"
The result is a pink latex balloon based on a blood-pressure cuff. Insert the balloon into the bottle and pump it up using the grape-shaped valve. As you pump, the balloon floats on top of the wine, creating an airtight seal. When you're ready to drink the wine, you squeeze the valve and lift out the deflated balloon.
Storing and transporting your wine elegantly are high on the agenda for New Yorker Grace Bonney, who runs the influential Design*Sponge blog. She recommends the $30 Bicycle Wine Rack created by Canadian designer Jesse Herbert. The handmade leather wine holder can be attached to any bike frame with antique brass fasteners. The leather has been treated with olive oil to improve its aging.
Award-winner Eric Pfeiffer, based in Oakland, California, has invented a similarly stylish at-home storage unit, the Stact Modular Wine Wall, which answers the question of how to display a wine collection with style. The modular rack is completely customizable in size and color, and includes a grid of machined aircraft-grade aluminum extrusions that allows placing the bottles horizontally. The back panels come in several finishes, from walnut and white oak wood to piano black and white. The first products are set to be shipped in November.