Wine Toys You Don’t Need

October 18, 2011


By Ricky Mollohan

Ricky Mollohan is Owner & Executive Chef of Mr. Friendly's New Southern Cafe, Solstice Kitchen & Wine Bar, and Cellar on Greene.

So it’s a Sunday, and in the name of Will Ferrell’s character in the movie Old School, you and the family are out perusing Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, or better yet, a nice local shop of some sort.

And then you see it! Glow in the dark wine glasses! Perfect! Awesome!

Not. No, not at all. But now you can find your wine when you are in a dark room!

Well, there’s the problem with this gift…you drink wine with the lights on. Usually.

And what about some other REAL wine “toys” you don’t need? No problem! Here you go…

1) Colored Wine Glasses of ANY kind. Sorry, but one of the most important factors in tasting, learning, and experiencing wine is SIGHT! And therefore your wine glasses should be the color of absolutely nothing. Always. There is no exception. And if you have blue, green, red, or any other color wine glasses, use them for punch, Sangria, Mimosas, or pennies.

2) Eight different shapes of Wine Glasses. Ok, so there are fancy company’s like Riedel that sell a glass for upwards of twenty different varietals of wine. But you know what, that’s simply not practical unless you have some serious cabinet space and someone who really likes polishing glasses. Now there is certainly some truth to the fact that certain wines should be served in specifically shaped glasses…Champagne/Sparkling Wine in a narrow flute-shaped glass, Chardonnay & Pinot Noir in a wide bottom/narrower lipped glass that’s often referred to as a “Burgundy glass”, and Big Reds (Bordeaux style Wines, Napa Cabs, etc.) in a deeper/wider rimmed glass. But beyond that, and with the exception of having a single “all-purpose” glass (somewhere in between the Burgundy-style glass and the Big Red/Cabernet glass), you can give up on the carry-case of stemware when going to taste wine at your friends house. And yes, we’ve had people bring their own glasses to the restaurants.

3) A decanter that is shaped like an animal or something that Cheech & Chong would put to use. A decanter, in it’s most normal uses, is for one of two things…to allow a young, often tannic or overly “ripe” wine to breathe, thus making it more palatable and less harsh, or in the case of an older vintage wine, to separate the wine from any sediment that has built up in the bottom of the wine (don’t worry, it’s totally natural and won’t hurt you). So what does your decanter need to look like? Well, most importantly it should be able to easily hold an entire 750 ml bottle of wine. That is certainly requirement number one. The opening, or “mouth” of the decanter should be at least an inch and a half wide, as it’s oxygen that makes wine “breathe”. And perhaps the biggest reason that your Grandma’s squirrel shaped decanter is not applicable? You have to be able to pour the decanted wine into a glass without hurting someone and/or yourself. You also want to be able to get whatever precious wine you have decided to decant into the glass, and not all over the table!


4) No, you do not need allergy medicine when drinking wine. Why not? Because you are NOT allergic to sulfites. You aren’t. Because if you were, then with the exception of less than 1% of the wine that we drink in this country, your wine shopping would take longer than a resolution to the debt ceiling. For even though some bottles clearly note “Sulfites added” or something similar, pretty much EVERY bottle of wine has Sulfites. So why do some mention it when others don’t? Because it is the law in some places to mention it, whereas it is not law in others. So what is it that gives a person such a bad headache “whenever I drink red wine?”  Well, much like the mistake I made at sixteen years of age when one weekend I jumped from a few Bud Lights to a few bottles of Icehouse (hey, I was a kid!) thus essentially consuming more than TWICE the alcohol, when going from White Wines to Red Wines, there is almost always a significant increase in the percentage of alcohol we consume. And because a Red Wine often has more “age” (aka time in the bottle), those sugars in the bottle are often higher, and thus produce a stronger, and more hangover-inducing product. In other words, trade your allergy medicine for a few Advil!

I could go on and on, but since wine drinking is supposed to be fun and carefree, just remember to keep it simple, keep it clear, and keep a few Advil around when it comes to enjoying wine like the so-called “pros”!


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