Top 5 Gadgets for the Wine Connoisseur
I'm an engineer by trade and I love apps, and gadgets, and apps made for gadgets. I've also developed a real passion for wine of late, crisp whites, fruity reds, and sweet, bubbly champagne.
So although mankind has been enjoying wine for thousands of years with merely a bottle and a cup, I love the idea of enhancing the experience with high-tech gizmos. While not strictly essential, they can certainly make your life easier and save you some prep time. And for choosing a wine, saving an opened bottle, and storing your purchases, these products are top-notch.
Read on to see our top five, plus a bonus gadget for the ultimate connoisseur.
1. Selecting Your Wine: Try wine apps to choose the perfect bottle
If you've ever gazed helplessly at shelf after shelf of wine bottles, overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices and desperately hoping to choose wisely, why not try an app? There are several out there for both Androids and iPhones that have wine libraries with over 1 million reviews, price guides, and serving tips.
Thumbs Up WineFinder is designed to help you navigate the wine aisles in supermarkets and warehouse stores. Start by choosing one of the 50+ stores, then search by type, price, or food pairing to find the perfect bottle of wine.
Swirl Pro is similar, but intergrates with Google Maps for finding the wine you want on the go. It also connects with Snooth, a social networking website with an online community for wine drinkers.
For sheer volume of wines catalogued though, Drync Wine Pro is the winner hands down. Over 1.2 million wines are indexed, with hundreds of thousands of expert reviews. Voted the top wine app by the NY Times and Macworld, you can easily research just about any wine that you come across. It also allows you to manage your personal wine collection, including tasting notes and ratings.
Electric wine bottle opener
2. Starting a Bottle: High-tech openers
Now that you've harnessed the power of the internet to choose your wine, don't stop there! Plug in your electric wine bottle opener and crack open the bottle in style.
Although a conventional corkscrew can do the trick, an electric opener can be a life saver at parties or weddings, when numerous bottles need to be opened quickly.
And as someone who's battled carpal tunnel syndrome, I know how nearly impossible it is to manipulate a corkscrew when your hands are in agony. An electric opener can be a godsend for arthritis sufferers, too, or anyone with reduced mobility in their hands or arms.
Maintain the perfect serving temperature
An inexpensive and easy to use wine bottle collar, this is especially well-suited for gauging a good temperature for reds.
3. Serving it Up: Maintain the perfect wine temperature
While white wine in general can be served straight from the fridge, the serving temperatures for red wine can be a bit trickier. To make sure you're nailing the right temp for your wine, try a wine bottle thermometer.
Most, like a wine collar, simply slip over the neck of the bottle. The temperature of the wine is displayed, and the collar will generally indicate the appropriate variety for that temperature, too.
For the ultimate connoisseur, very precise wine thermometers are also available, ones that can measure the temperature to within a degree or so. Used in combination with a wine chiller, these can provide the optimal wine-drinking experience. The table below shows the recommended serving temperatures for various varieties.
Recommended Serving Temperature (F)
Burgundy, Bordeaux, Shiraz, Cabernet
63 - 64
Rioja, Pinot Noir, Chianti, Zinfandel
59 - 60
45 - 48
FInish your bottle without losing flavor
Pump out the oxygen to keep your open bottle tasting fresh for days.
4. Saving for Later: Pump out the air to maintain the flavor
Shocking as it sounds, there are occasions in which I'm unable to finish a bottle of wine. In these cases, a wine pump is indispensable for ensuring that the partial bottle will still be drinkable for a few days.
WIne pumps work by removing the air from the top of the bottle, thus reducing the effects of oxidation and preserving the flavor of the wine. Manufacturers claim the wine will last about 7-10 days, although in practice, I've found 4-5 days is about the limit for maintaining an unaltered taste.
These are super simple to use, too. Just insert the rubber stopper into your open bottle of wine, place the pump over the top, and pump about 5-6 times. You'll hear a clicking sound when the vacuum is ready and the bottle is sealed. To open later, simply press down on the stopper to release the vacuum.
Store your wIne in a cooler
Set the temperature of your wine fridge to about 55 F (reds and whites) for storage.
5. Storing your Collection: Nothing beats a wine fridge (Well, almost)
While any sort of dark, cool location can work for wine storage, mini wine refrigerators have become very affordable. Small in-cabinet or counter top units typically hold about 6-8 bottles and fit easily into most kitchen designs. Larger home chillers can hold 15-30 bottles.
Dual zone refrigerators are also available for cooling reds and whites at different temperatures. However, storing all your wine at about 55 F is considered optimum. At this temperature, reds will need just a small bit of time at room temps to warm up, and whites can be cooled quickly in the main fridge for serving.
The Ultimate Wine Gadget
For the truly tech-obsessed oenophile, nothing beats an underground spiral cellar. Made by the Spiral Cellars company, these stunning high-tech home and commercial storages cellars have been featured in dozens of home magazines. They can be installed almost anywhere on the ground level, inside or outside your home, and can hold almost 2000 bottles.
Because they're underground, maintaining an optimum storage temperature is a snap. The surrounding earth provides insulation and near-constant temperature. There's also an air-flow system for circulation. The cellars install quickly, too, in just over a week, as they're made from prefab concrete cylinders.
Costs vary, but expect to pay around $20,000-40,000 depending on the features you select. Worth it? When I make my millions, I'll let you know!