Wine Stopper Set
If you're going to the trouble of buying a really good bottle of wine to enjoy, then it's important to keep the wine in as good a condition as possible. For example if you're buying a luxury Bordeaux wine which could easily cost upwards of £30.00 you're probably not going to want to guzzle it all in one sitting, you'll want to savour and enjoy it for as long as possible (but maybe you are the sort of person who can afford a £30 bottle of wine every night, in which case read something else, preferably another one of my hubs!). If you're having it with dinner, you may well want to keep some for the next evening meal. Wine which is left open begins to oxidise in the presence of oxygen, giving a vinegary taste, so it's necessary to find a method of sealing the bottle, which is where the wine stopper comes in.
Wine Stopper SetClick thumbnail to view full-size
There is a plethora of wine stoppers on the market, the bulk of which are of the type that has some sort of hub at the top to hold on to, and a shaft which seals the bottle. You can go as fancy as you like with this type of wine stopper, there are: novelty ones, glass wine stoppers, stainless steel stoppers, silver stoppers; you can have them plain, engraved or monogrammed. As such, these little items make ideal gifts for people. I bought some very nice blown glass ones last Christmas as gifts for the Secret Santa (bran tub) at work, and also for some friends in the US (yes, they made it there in one piece).
The shaft of this type of stopper may be made of glass, metal, cork or wood. The ones I've found best were either cork (I have a cork one with a Santa snow globe on top) or metal that has one or two rubber rings around the shaft to make a seal. However, not for you if you have a latex allergy!
Wine stopper Set
A set of stoppers might include one or two stoppers, or a stopper and a corkscrew, or the full sommelier set, which I think is a really nice gift and which includes a wine stopper, a corkscrew and a foil cutter, usually in a nice gift box. Some stoppers come with a table top display, so they look pretty on your counter, although the downside of a little display like this is that then I would have to clean it!
Once you start exploring fine wines, there are all sorts of little gifts you can treat yourself and others to, as well as the wine itself. The ritual of cutting the foil on the bottle, removing the cork (I'm sorry, screw tops are just not the same!), pouring the wine and sealing the bottle is as much a part of the experience of enjoying wine as is savouring the aroma and flavour.
Champagne lovers require a slightly different wine stopper, to keep the sparkle in their tipple. The sort of steel stopper that is shaped like a cap with arms down the sides is best. The cap has a rubber seal in it and the arms clip over the ridges on the wine neck, providing a tight, secure seal that will cope with the pressure created by the bubbles in the wine.
- luxury Bordeaux wines
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For real wine buffs, even the little air trapped between the wine stopper and the wine is an anathema, which is where the wine pump comes in. This wine stopper set comprises a rubber or plastic bung and a hand pump, which is inserted through the bung and which you use to pump out all the air and ceate a vacuum. Thus preventing your lovely wine from oxidising. Again, there are a variety of these on the market, but Le Creuset make two attractive metal ones for around £19, and you can buy replacement, or additional bungs, just in case you're the sort of wine buff who likes a different wine with each course, then you can have as many bottles vac'd as you wish.
Blown Glass Wine Stopper
I am fortunate to live not far from a glass blowing factory, The House of Marbles, where not only can you buy all sorts of lovely things in their shop, but you can go and watch the glass being made. This is where I bought the glass wine stoppers last year.
You can wander round the extensive shop, have a look in the museum and then stand in the gallery surrounding the glass blowers and watch them making the items on sale. The process is fascinating and (I find) relaxing to watch, although I'm not sure I'd have the nerve to mould the red hot glass with just a pad of wet newspaper in my hand as they do! I love seeing how they put the colours and metallic swirls into the glass, when you're bored with this you can potter around the finishing shops and watch the glass being polished. The factory also makes really pretty glass Christmas tree decorations, and their products make their way around the globe.