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The right tool for the job

There is no shortage of accessories for wine lovers—which ones do you really need?

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Danny co-owns Innovative Beverages, is an importer of fine wines and is a CAPSAC-certified sommelier. Photo: Tammy Fancy

Danny co-owns Innovative Beverages, is an importer of fine wines and is a CAPSAC-certified sommelier. Photo: Tammy Fancy

As more wines become available in Halifax, we have more options for wine accessories. It wasn’t that long ago that buying a simple wine decanter would mean several hours of shopping. I found my first one in the back of the Sears Clearance Centre, of all places.

Finding good wine glasses used to be impossible—now they’re in dozens of local stores. Do you want to build a custom wine cellar to hold all your fancy bottles? Or would you like to spend $100 per stem for the finest crystal glassware to swirl your wine in? No problem in Halifax.

Whatever your wine whim there is a place that stocks your item. And if you can’t find it locally there is always Amazon. My search there resulted in 4,800 available products ready to be shipped to your door within a couple of days, everything from a sock monkey wine caddy to the World Atlas of Wine.

Most local retailers, including the recent influx of the big-box stores, have a good selection of basic wine openers, wine glasses, coolers and wine fridges.

There has been a recent surge in the availability of wine aerators. An aerator is basically a large spout through which you pour your wine. The spout introduces oxygen and makes the wine instantly more drinkable. I recommend these devices to anyone who likes to drink big wines like Cabernet Sauvignon or who finds a lot of their wine choices too tannic or drying. I purchased my aerator by Vinturi at Bishop’s Cellar, but there is another excellent one by Le Creusset available at Cucina Moderna.

For a great wine glass, it is pretty hard to beat NovaScotian Crystal. But if your budget is more burger than caviar, you will find some good Riedel glassware at Winners. The latest trend in glassware is the stemless ones (less breakage). Winners carries the very trendy Swirl stemless glasses, which have a swirl in the side to make dropping them a lot less likely.

If you find your wine is never cold enough there are solutions galore. Bishop’s Cellar carries one of the trendy corkcicle wine chiller sticks called Chill that you put right into the bottle. Chapters has the Wine O’ Bottle Bag. It looks like a paper bag, but the inside is insulated. And every few months Costco brings in great wine fridges that hold up to 150 bottles. That’s much cheaper than ordering a custom one (and better than that wine rack in your dining room). On Amazon you can find a Ravi wine chiller spout that instantly chills your wines as you pour.

Didn’t finish your bottle? Cucina Moderna has the Epivac Wine Saver that allows you to vacuum out the air in your bottle. Worse yet, if your spouse is sneaking drinks of your precious bottle, get a wine and spirit bottle lock from Amazon.

If you are too lazy to use a regular corkscrew to open your bottles there are dozens of solutions, including everything from the Rabbit Wine Opener, to electric models that look like large pepper mills. Or you could just to learn how to use a regular opener and save your money for some of the more fun accessories.

Some of my favourite finds at Chapters and Amazon were the wine-tasting party kits and the wine board games. Interactive wine activities always increase knowledge and fun.

For readers, I recommend the book 1,001 Wines You Must Taste Before You Die. Foodies should pick up Max McCalman’s Wine and Cheese Pairing Swatchbook: 50 Pairings to Delight your Palate. And if you have that special bottle of wine that you want to always remember, look for a wine label remover kit, so that you can keep that label for your scrapbook or photo album.

 

The under-$25 wine review

Sella and Mosca Vermentino
Italy, $18.00, Bishop’s Cellar

I love trying wines from different regions of Italy, and Sardinia makes great whites. Nicely perfumed notes of rose petals and ripe mangos, with a creamy texture of ripe stone fruit—nectarines. An unexpected richness throughout with some underlying acidity, making the whole package very satisfying. A pleasantly different white wine; good value. Pair with a basic roast chicken and butter mashed potatoes. 88/100

Carpazo Rosso di Montalcino
Italy, $24.99, Bishop’s Cellar

Seeking value, I enjoy trying wines that are affordable, but related to more expensive wines. Brunello di Montalcino is a famous Tuscan wine and Rosso di Montalcino is its “baby brother.” For great Brunello character at a much lower price, this wine is ideal. Lighter in the glass than expected. Nice dark cherry notes. A touch of cherry cola on the front of this wine, but tasty. Mid-palate has a beautiful velvety grip, finishes long and dark. Delicious with fettuccine. Dining out? Pair with red wine braised local rabbit from the Bicycle Thief. 91/100

Recent Reviews

Reserva de Peron Torrontes 2012

Argentina, NSLC, $12.49

Fresh flowers, honeysuckle and tropical notes. Great value. A rich honeyed texture balanced with some acidity. 89/100

Saxenburg Guinea Fowl Chenin Blanc, Viogner, 2012, $19.99, Cristall Wine

Floral and peachy aromas; tastes of ripe pink grapefruit. Fresh and clean with lots of fruit flavour. 90/100

 

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