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Wine gadgets


Wine gadget star of our very recent holiday in a house rental in Charente was my tea infuser! We opened a bottle of a 2000 claret and the cork split then crumbled so the bottom half had to be pushed into the bottle. The wine was poured into a decanter with lots of bits of cork floating around. There was no sieve in the house and the only two options seemed to be a paper coffee filter paper or my tea infuser, which I thought would be the best bet. So held the infuser open (one of those you have press to open) and poured the wine through it. A great success,and I don’t think I or anyone else detected any notes of Russian Caravan in their wine :grin:


Just back from my Provence, Italy and return through the Alsace holiday, at Sclumbergers in Guibwiller where I purchased some Pinot Gris they gave me a “waiters friend” and some wine pourers with the order.
The waiters friend which is much praised on these pages came to prominence twice on the trip, both occasions involved a female wine waiter and a stubborn cork and in both cases they failed to extract it and had to resort to a male of the species who could grasp the rachet hard enough so as to stop it slipping of the neck of the bottle, a la my early Screwpull failures, there is one and only one reason waiters use them , they can go in the pocket and take up no space, no other corkscrew can do that so that is why they are used, I have never been convinced as to their value in a domestic envireonment and this further makes my point, so if anyone wants a free waiters friend care of Schlumberger you are welcome.
Nice winery to visit by the way, great people work there.


Good to know, @cerberus! We’ll be heading off to Alsace in April. :+1:


Don’t think it has been mentioned so far, but I find those wine cooling sleeves indispensable.

One is just about right to take a white wine from cellar temperature down to drinking level in just 5 minutes or so, and I use two (one after another) for cooling whites quickly from room temperature. Also good to use for just a minute or two on a red wine that had been kept at a too-warm room temperature, to take it down to 18C or so.

To raise the temperature of wine in a few minutes, I use warm/hot water in the sink, but that is hardly a gadget.


I’m sure that many of us would be delighted to help with more suggestions on that subject, @Inbar. Just say the word!

It may be helpful to know that both Roederer and Drappier have lowered the amount of sulphite in their wines to around the 40mg/l mark. This is the lowest level they reckon they can take it down to without risking the onset of random oxidation. Bollinger also does something a bit odd with sulphites - I can’t quite remember what exactly, but I seem to recall it is to do with adding sulphites at an earlier stage than bottling. They have had a bit of a variable reputation for ageing qualities since they started doing this, but I understand they have moved to using jetting at bottling time, which may help.

There are some zero-added sulphur champagnes but they are of necessity brut nature (no dosage) and shouldn’t really be kept longer than necessary.


On those Waiter’s Friend corkscrews, there are three main variants that I know of. The first has a single ledge that locates over the rim of the bottle - the second has two, so you use the first one as far as is comfortable, then move to the second one.

The third type has a true ratchet mechanism, so you simply crank the handle up and down to remove the cork. No macho posturing required! It’s a highly ingenious bit of engineering, but I’ve only ever come across one once. My youngest daughter has one.


I have the second type which I find incredibly easy to use. Never yet had a problem or a broken cork with it.
I know I really really shouldn’t tempt fate like that!


TWS Brut champagne is fantastic though - minimal sulphur - so that’s what we buy


It is not easy to find despite being quite big, it is in the middle of Guibwiller, but the sat nav took us to the door and there is plenty of parking.


The ones used by the lady waiters were the double ledge type, you can see the problem when they move to the second ledge and the cork wont come out and the whole screw starts to go at an angle as they can’t hold it upright and lever without it going off at an angle, the reason being that a large amount of cork is above the rim and starts to move aside making everything go askew.
As with all cork problems the type of cork dictates how easy or not the removal process is, those very tight hard corks can be very difficult and some will refuse to come out with any corkscrew, when I related to corks like that using an early Screwpull I don’t think many believed what I said when because I could grip the top enough to stay on the rim and then turn the spiral actually started to stretch and I had to abandon using it and revert to a winged corkscrew with a spiral that did the job, you would never have got that one out with a waiters friend, if it is a crumbly old cork one has to resort to sourcery !


I feel as if the answer to my problem is in my own hands ( steady on there) but Mrs O still attempts to open screw top bottles with a cork screw !!! Not every time mind you but it’s a source of amusement when it does happen.
I can’t ban her because she is already prohibited from washing all but my cheapest Paris stems !!!:roll_eyes::innocent:


Yes, I’ve had a few like that in my time! I usually revert to my “Butler’s Friend” (=“Ah So”) type which seems to have no problem with moving this sort of stuck cork.


Very similar reasons why I recently talked my wife into buying me a Coravin as a birthday gift. She drinks very little overall and does not share my interest in exploring different varieties, regions, & food matching etc. I was becoming more and more frustrated with debating if and what to open based on plans for the next 1-2 days etc. and then having a glass of x because it was open rather than really fancying it or thinking it would complement what I was about to eat nicely.
I do admit these are nice problems to have in the grand scheme of things, mind you!
I probably won’t use it on any wines under about the £15 mark as it would be cheaper to just waste the odd glass if it came to it (an unlikely scenario I know!) but I imagine it will definitely assist my exploration and enjoyment of wine…


It is great, especially if you want to try wines side by side.


I’ve recently started using a Butler’s Friend. Can’t understand why these aren’t in wider use. I rarely use anything else now.


I think the ‘ah so’ style cork remover is usually reserved for older corks that are more likely to crumble etc.


That is what I use, too, most of the time. This is the one I really want though…



Apparently so. But not sure why - they are dead easy to use and often require a lot less effort.


I’m not sure exactly why, but I tried one for a while and slipped back into using a waiter’s friend for most bottles. I think it might have come down to the difference between clicking the screw back into place vs relocating the prongs into the plastic sheath.

I still like having both implements though. The butler’s thief works better for crumbly corks, but is useless if the cork has a tendency to slip down into the bottle. For slippy corks your best bet is to insert a corkscrew at an angle.

If it’s crumbly AND slippy you probably need a Durand. Or just shove it into the bottle with a knife handle and pick out the bits of cork - 100% guaranteed to work.


With crumbly and slippery corks, invest in an elaborate set of Port tongs and make a song and dance about opening the bottle :smiley: