The terrible human and economic cost of the pandemic cannot be ignored. It has forced many people to test the limits of their creativity and endurance. And maybe, for a lucky unburdened few, all that time at home has provided an opportunity to explore new interests.
It may have been cooking or knitting. Sales of guitars shot upward in 2020 as people found relief in playing music. Or maybe you discovered that you love wine, and you have become curious enough to want to learn more about it.
Many great books can help to broaden your knowledge, yet with wine, the best way to begin the journey is by drinking. Whether you prefer to do that systematically or randomly is up to you. But whichever you decide, you’ll want just a few tools to enhance the experience.
Let me explain that. You really don’t need anything to enjoy wine short of a corkscrew (you don’t even need that if the bottle has a screw cap) and a glass (no, do not drink wine out of the bottle unless you’ve just won the World Series). But while those are the bare essentials, a few practical items will heighten your enjoyment.
This starter kit is simple. You need wine glasses, a corkscrew, a decanter and, of course, some wine. Later, you can add to your equipment. (Fair warning: It has the potential to become a money pit.) But initially, if you choose wisely, the investment will be small. The potential for pleasure, though, is great. Here is what you need to get started.
You cannot drink wine without opening the bottle (unless you have a boxed wine). Though screw caps are welcome and easy additions to the range of wine closures, most bottles are still stoppered with a cork. For that you need a corkscrew.
This is an easy selection. Forget about your Swiss Army knife or the double-winged man whose arms you squeeze together to extract the cork. The single best corkscrew is what you’ve seen in countless restaurants, sometimes called the waiter’s friend. It’s essentially a knifelike handle with a spiral worm for inserting into the cork, a double-hinged fulcrum for resistance and a small, folding blade for cutting the foil that protects the cork.
This sort of corkscrew, which was deemed the top choice a few years ago by Wirecutter, a product review site owned by The New York Times, is compact and inexpensive, $10 or $12 or so. Wine shops often carry them, as do many online markets. It pays to buy a few if, like me, you habitually misplace them. With a bit of practice, it is easy to use.
You need a vessel for drinking the wine. Good stemmed glasses are essential equipment.
It’s tempting to think of stemmed glasses as fussy. What’s the point? You’ve been to bars or restaurants, perhaps, that serve wine in tumblers, and that works well enough. Many companies now offer stemless glasses, too.
Don’t succumb to the temptation. You can relish a wine served in a squat juice…