A great bottle of wine is an obvious first choice for the wine lover on your gift list this holiday. But what if you want to pair that bottle with a useful and imaginative wine gadget? Here with her tips and sips is Natalie MacLean, who offers Canada’s most popular online wine classes at nataliemaclean.com
Welcome Natalie. What is the first useful gadget you recommend?
Unless you have a wine closed with a screw cap, the most essential gadget is a corkscrew. This is called the Waiter’s Friend Corkscrew.
It’s named that because it’s relatively easy to use compared to many larger and more complicated contraptions. Once you have removed the foil from the bottle top, all you need to do is insert the worm in the centre of the cork and use the levers on the side to remove it.
I want to mention this corkscrew, and all of the gadgets I’m recommending today are sold by independent, family-owned businesses who ship across the country and around the world. I think it’s important this holiday season to support local businesses who have had it pretty tough during the pandemic. You can get this corkscrew from Trudeau Wine Accessories in Quebec at trudeau.com, owned by Anne-Marie Trudeau (no relation).
Tell us about the wine we’ve just opened.
Yes, absolutely. Stave & Steel Cabernet Sauvignon from California is aged in bourbon barrels. It has this luscious, fleshy, ripe dark fruit flavours that finish with just a toffee note.
Stave & Steel Bourbon Barrel Aged Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
California, United States
So we’ve talked about opening a wine, what about closing it if we have left-over wine?
One of the best ways to preserve open wine is this simple plastic stopper, called Repour, that’s made from 100% recyclable materials. You just remove the foil seal, and insert into your open bottle as you would a cork.
One Repour will keep one 750 ml bottle of wine fresh until the bottle is empty for up to two months and you can use it in between glasses. According to Dr. Tom Lutz, who invented Repour and who has a PhD in Physical Chemistry, there’s a packet inside the stopper with the active ingredient similar to what you’d find inside a package of beef jerky. This reacts and absorbs the oxygen inside the bottle to create iron oxide, which is harmless and stays trapped inside the stopper.
Repour continuously removes both the oxygen from the air above the wine as well as from the wine itself until there is no free oxygen left in the bottle, keeping the wine fresh. Oxygen ages everything, like an apple that’s cut in two and slowly turns brown. It also eventually turns wine to vinegar.
You can get Repour from Rich Massey at masseywines.com in B.C.
Personally, I love this gadget because I’m so picky about drinking fresh wine. It allows me to open different bottles so I can have a glass of Pinot one night, and a Syrah the next. It also means I don’t feel obligated to finish a really expensive wine because it’ll still be fresh when I go back to it even a week later.
Tell us about the wine with this gadget.
You can insert yours into a bottle of Malbec from Argentina, a robust red wine with aromas of dark berries and smoke. Repour is going to keep those aromas fresh a day from now or a month from now.
Trapiche Gran Medalla Malbec
Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina
What about open bottles of sparkling wine?
Repour will also work on bubbly, though it can pop out because the pressure inside a bottle of sparkling wine is 90 pounds per square inch, equivalent to city bus tires. The mushroom- shaped cork is impossible to get back into the bottle because they’re originally inserted under hydraulic pressure. Plus, they expand once you pop them out.
This champagne stopper, also from Trudeau Wine Accessories in Quebec, is a simple metal cap with two small wings that clamp under the lip of the bottle and have an internal plastic seal to preserve your wine for a few days.
Be sure to keep your resealed bottle cold in the fridge. And let’s just clear up the folklore myth that putting the handle of a spoon in the bottle also works: it doesn’t because science. The bottle is left open so the bubbles dissipate and the wine is exposed to oxygen, which is what will eventually turn it bad.
So we’re putting this cap on which bubbly here?
You’re clamping down on Santa Margherita Rosé Sparkling from Italy, which has aromas of field strawberries and melon.
Santa Margherita Brut Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore
Veneto D.O.C.G., Italy
Let’s talk about wine glasses.
You have two glasses in front of you from rosehillwinecellars.com, and owned by Sue and Gary Rosehill in Toronto. A good glass does make a big difference to the way wine smells and tastes. You have to be able to swirl the wine to smell it. So please don’t use those tiny, weeny glasses you get at a golf tournament.
At the same time, I think we can get carried away with all kinds of specialty glasses when what you really need is a good glass for most red wines and a good one for whites. I think you’ll also agree that these work much better than the wine bra.
Tell us about the wines we have in these glasses.
In the white wine glass, you have Relax Riesling from Germany. It’s perfectly named for harried hosts at this time of year and offers aromas of peach and apricot.
The red is a luscious California Pinot Noir from California called Sea Sun and has aromas of ripe cherries and berries.
Sea Sun Pinot Noir 2019
California, United States
Tell us about the final gadget.
This is a decanter from Rosehill Wine Cellars designed especially for your big red wines that need to breathe before you drink them. As I mentioned, a little air exposure is good for some wines because the tannins in wine, which are natural compounds that you also sense when you eat walnuts and get that furry-mouth feeling, will chain together and make the wine taste smoother.
It’s simple in design but very effective. There’s no need for oversized, ornate decanters. This one is easy to use.
Tell us about the wine we’re decanting.
This is a full-bodied red wine from Reif Winery in Niagara with aromas of dark fruit and toasty oak.
Reif Estate Winery First Growth Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Niagara River, Ontario V.Q.A., Canada
Published with permission from CTV.