There are myriad wine accessories on the market and while I’m definitely not averse to some of them, the sober truth is that many gizmos are not necessities. There are two items that I consider absolute essentials for drinking wine, and you need not invest more than $15 total on them (and one of them can involve Tupperware!).
The Corkscrew: Be it rabbit style, wing, arm, self-pulling, or two-prong, there is a galaxy of cork extractors out there. But nothing beats the simple Waiter’s Friend corkscrew for sheer ease of use, affordability, and portability. Look for ones with a Teflon-coated spiral for easy drilling, and a little serrated blade to cut the foil off the bottleneck. Or you could just go for wine with a screwcap.
The Pitcher: The only other mandatory tool is a decanting vessel, which is a fancy way to say you need a pouring container in the event you want to soften your wine’s tannins or remove its sediment. (More on this in my book!) But before you drop hundreds on one of the many fragile, curvaceous glass decanters available, know that a simple glass pitcher in your kitchen will suffice. In fact, I know a whole slew of happy connoisseurs who decant their priceless bottles with Tupperware. Tongue firmly in cheek, they affectionately refer to their trusty vessel as the Club Crystal.
For other ways you can save money while drinking richly, check out my book, How to Drink Like a Billionaire (Regan Arts).
Don’t feel bottled in by the notion that spicy food only pairs with beer. While you may think it’s near impossible to find a white or red wine to drink with that beef vindaloo you’ve just ordered, here’s some sage spice advice.
Whites with a bit of sweetness such as Riesling or Chenin Blanc are ideal to cool down the scorches of a chili-laden curry or Szechuan beef, much like a sweet mango lassi quenching spicy samosas or a frozen margarita taming the heat of a piquant salsa. White wine with spice is a good choice except when the wine is excessively oaky, as with some Chardonnay, or has relatively high alcohol content, as in many Gewürtztraminer.
For those who prefer reds, there is magic to behold when you choose a lighter-bodied, amply fruity, low-tannin red such as Beaujolais, or even a Pinot Noir. When chilled and willing, these lighter reds can provide just as much relief as any of the firefighting whites. Avoid tannic, gum-drying reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah as they can intensify the sensations of heat in your mouth.
Rosé is a perfect match for a Thai red curry, or basil and chili chicken, with comparable powers of refreshment as a Beaujolais.
And one of my all-time favorite choices is bubbly (throughout the entire meal). With its coldness and restrained alcohol content, a bottle of Prosecco or Cremant is a spritely and soothing addition to any spicy meal.
For a full list of wines to pair with spicy food, check out my book, How to Drink Like a Billionaire (Regan Arts).
In some circles, artichokes or salad dressing with wine are taboo…I proudly defy this social construct.
You may have been told that artichokes or a freshly dressed salad are infamous wine killers because they make wines taste sweeter. But they’re wrong. I find that these two foods can pleasantly transform a too-dry everyday wine into a delicious meal companion.
An artichoke won’t Jekyll-and-Hyde your bottle of Sauvignon Blanc into Hawaiian Punch, but it will make the dry Sauvignon Blanc seem less tart and more fruity. This happens because artichokes contain a compound called cynarin which tends to make everything, including water, sweeter.
Salad dressing, on the other hand, doesn’t make wine appear sweeter because of any mysterious chemical, but because acidic food subdues acidic wine. Comprised of vinegar, garlic, lemon juice, and other substances that keep the Alka-Seltzer factory fizzing, salad dressing is among the most sour food we eat.
Of course, you might have trouble fully appreciating a delicately balanced mature Burgundy with an endive vinaigrette. But I certainly won’t confiscate your corkscrew if you drink a simple, crisp wine with your dressed-up greens, and I believe that you’ll find the tart dressing is the perfect antidote to an overly dry wine. A very tangy wine like a Sauvignon Blanc or Chianti might very well taste better with an artichoke’s sweetening effects.
So, the next time you hesitate before trying these so-called wine killers with a bottle of wine, rethink the vegetable hate and try this unconventional pairing for yourself.
For hundreds more fresh, fascinating wine tips, get yourself a copy of my just-released book, How To Drink Like a Billionaire, today.
Corkscrews Just Became Cool: Last month I happened upon this phenomenal corkscrew after a doing a random search of Etsy.com, the online storefront for handmade and vintage goods. Hand forged from an actual railroad spike, it is the perfect low-tech combination of style and rawness. I was so taken with it that I immediately placed an order for four of them: three as holiday gifts and one for myself, engraved, appropriately enough, with “Drink Bravely”.
It is is made by “Hightower,” a doo-ragged, Michigan-based gentleman who clearly knows his way around an anvil. The corkscrew is $45 before shipping, a reasonable price to pay for a vinous instrument of such singularity and impressiveness. Built into it is also a lever that serves as a bottle opener. Hightower will engrave initials or a phrase onto it at no extra charge. Have corkscrews ever been this cool? Don’t think so! Check out the Etsy shop for more cool corkscrews.
It’s to imagine a cooler wedding, birthday, or Father’s Day gift for the wine inclined. Check it out here.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame became a credible institution today as it finally — finally! — announced its intention to induct legendary rockers RUSH. A high raise of the chalice to these fine Canadian musicians for trailblazing their unique path to success without ever having to compromise their artistic vision and integrity. And as their new album, A Clockwork Angels, demonstrates, they are rocking harder, looser, and funkier than ever before.
In hopeful anticipation of the overdue Rock Hall honor, I launched this Drink Bravely video with guitar virtuoso and wine collector Alex Lifeson two days ago. The video has already garnered thousands of views, and as you’ll see, his fascinating home cellar includes everything from Côte-Rôtie from France’s Rhone Valley to Madeira from Portugal to Australian Shiraz to Swedish Aquavit, all of which, you might note, would make an excellent holiday gift for the wine lover (and Rush fan) in your life. So catch the mystery, catch the drift: Liquid Rush: Digging Into Alex Lifeson’s Wine Cellar.