Wine can get expensive.
The bottles are just the start. Once you’ve procured some bottles, you’ll need a $US200 “advanced lever” corkscrew to open them up, a $US50 carafe to aerate them, and maybe even a $US300 Coravin wine system to bypass the cork entirely. There are entire websites full of nifty gadgets billed as essential to your comfort and happiness as a collector.
Sommelier Mark Oldman takes a different approach.
In his book “How to Drink Like a Billionaire,” Oldman writes that you can buy all the wine tools you need for $US15.
While he admits that he boasts a shiny, costly, enjoyable collection of accoutrements himself, “the sober truth, however, is that none of these gizmos, nor any other of the infinite number of wine tools on the market, are essential to appreciate even the finest wine.”
All you really need, he says, is:
A corkscrew. A plain old $US3-$US8 “waiter’s friend” corkscrew is “perfectly fine,” says Oldman. “Look for ones with a Teflon-coated spiral, for easy drilling, and a little serrated blade to cut the foil off the bottleneck.”
A pitcher. Also known as a “decanting vessel.” You can buy a crystal decanter for hundreds of dollars, says Oldman, or “be advised that a simple glass pitcher in your kitchen will suffice. In fact, I know a club of happy connoisseurs who are fine with using a Tupperware pitcher to decant their priceless bottles.”
And there’s no need to get crazy with your glasses, either. “Despite the fact that Riedel and other glassware purveyors decree that varietal-specific glasses can make a difference,” Oldman writes, “I join many insiders in contending that the considerable expense of these glasses (and the heartache experienced when they inevitably shatter into glittering nonexistence) aren’t worth the slight improvement they may make in the enjoyment of the wine.”
Again, you can shell out hundreds of dollars for stunning, delicate stemware … or you can follow Oldman’s lead and “think of glassware like you would a graham cracker: thin, big, and cheap.”
“Your wineglass should be slender because you want to taste the wine — not the glass — with a wide bowl that holds at least twenty-two ounces so you have plenty of room to swirl and sniff your wine. Choose inexpensive glasses because glasses break as inevitably as earphones, smartphone screens, and the hearts of Chicago Cubs fans. Use that one glass type for your white, red, dessert, and sparkling wines, and reinvest your savings in a closet full of daily Prosecco.”