Beer and Wine Accessory Reviews: Should You Buy These 7 Gadgets?
You could fill warehouses with the number of wine and beer accessories on the market today. The industry is so large that you might not know which products will actually enhance your beverages, and which ones don’t add much to the experience. Just as with the bottles of wine and beer themselves, accessories have quite the range in price. So what’s worth buying, and what isn’t?
Part of the reason you now have so many accessory options is because the markets for both wine and beer have expanded in recent years. Craft beer has moved out of its nascent stages to claim a growing share of the beer market in the United States, and Americans are drinking more wine than ever. According to the Wine Institute, Americans drank a whopping 913 gallons of vino in 2015.
In light of this, it’s little wonder why you also have a burgeoning accessory market, and why there are now entire Pinterest pages devoted to DIY crafts with wine and beer remnants. The Cheat Sheet took a look at some of the accessories on the market today to see what’s worth buying, and what you can continue living without. Can you still get by with a simple corkscrew, glass, and a bottle of your choice? We’re here to find out.
1. Boxxle Premium Bag-in-Box Wine Dispenser
If the terms “premium” and “box wine” don’t typically go together in your head, we don’t blame you. Boxed wines have earned a bad reputation in previous years, but some stigmas are meant to be broken. Boxed wines are better for the environment and last much, much longer than typical bottles. A single box can sit on your counter for 6 to 7 weeks before you notice a difference in taste. But the true benefit is that boxed wines are typically far cheaper than their bottled counterparts. Buying a 5-liter box of your favorite wine instead of the comparable seven bottles can save you around $50 each time, meaning it’s perfect for parties. A 3-liter box (the same amount as four bottles) is also great to keep on your counter for cooking, entertaining, or your occasional glass with dinner.
Boxxle’s dispenser adds form and function to the typical boxed wine. You take the cask (bag) out of the box and place it in the dispenser. The spout on the bag fits seamlessly into the notch at the top of the dispenser, which means you won’t have to drag it to the edge of the counter every time you want to pour a glass of wine. True to its claim, the dispenser also keeps wine fresh for weeks (the bag of Cabernet Sauvignon I tried has been tasty for more than three weeks and counting). Its streamlined design should work well in any kitchen, and setup took less than five minutes – although don’t be concerned if it takes considerable effort to push down and lock the dispenser’s lifting mechanism.
The only downside to the dispenser is the cost, as it retails for $99. However, if you already have a favorite boxed wine or would like to save some money on beverages for the parties you throw, this could easily pay for itself in wine savings.
2. Ellessco VinniBag
Promoted generally to protect a wine bottle in transit, this inflatable travel bag works as advertised. The inflatable plastic bag is large enough to easily contain a standard 750-milliliter wine bottle (and some wider and taller bottles, too), and creates a suspended air pocket within the bag, cushioning the bottle or other breakables from falls or from jostling in a suitcase.
The bag was easy to use and inflate with air, and it protected the bottle from breaking when dropped from a counter height onto a tile kitchen floor. It also won a comparison review by Cook’s Illustrated among wine bottle protectors, which said that when a bottle did break (after five drops on hard pavement), the bag contained all of the wine that was spilled. This means you probably won’t have a mess in your suitcase even if something goes drastically wrong.
For any consumers who do purchase the bag, it might be wise to allow the it to sit outside for a few hours immediately after opening. The bag emitted the heavy-duty plastic odor we’ve all come to recognize, but after a few hours it was no longer a problem. This wine accessory retails for $29.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond.
3. Franmara Mighty Pull Electric Corkscrew
Let’s face it: We’ve all had one too many corkscrew incidents when fragments ended up floating in the wine, or you had to try more than once to manually extract the cork. Franmara’s electric corkscrew hopes to make it easier, relegating your tasks to holding the bottle and pressing a button.
The electric corkscrew operates using 4 AA batteries (not included), and features a foil cutter that doubles as a stand. The foil cutter worked perfectly, and the corkscrew itself was quiet, as advertised. For $29.95 on Home Wet Bar‘s site, it might also be worth a try if you’re truly tired of using a traditional corkscrew. A first use of the corkscrew took more than the 6 to 8 seconds to open the company advertises. The directions also note the corkscrew can’t go in at an angle, and they’re not kidding. We didn’t have the corkscrew completely straight on the first attempt, which created an issue drawing out the cork at first. While this wine accessory did eventually work on our bottle (sans fragments in the wine), we might be sticking with a traditional corkscrew from now on.
4. pubWARE Unbreakable Drinkware
Of course, when a company claims their drinkware is “unbreakable,” we have to see if it really holds up. For the purposes of this test, I handed one of the four stemless wine glasses in the set to my husband and said, “Do your best.”
A casual drop onto a tile floor did absolutely nothing to the glass, which is created to be dishwasher-safe, microwave-safe, and BPA-free. Drops two through four also did little to the glass, which is when we placed it into a plastic bag and tried to find out how much force it would take to actually cause damage. The answer: quite a bit. The plastic bag had several holes in it before we saw even a small nick on the rim of the glass, but even that small nick didn’t render the glass unusable. And this was after a concerted effort went into pounding the glass on the tile — not a typical accidental drop.
You can tell the drinkware is plastic when you set it on a hard surface; it has the plastic “thump” instead of the glass-like “clink.” However, the weight in your hand feels very much like glass, and I can imagine the same is true for all of pubWARE’s drinkware varieties, which include 16-ounce and 20-ounce mixing and pub glasses. All classic styles retail for $49.99 for a set of four — not a bad deal for a set that’s going to last forever.
5. STACT Modular Wine Wall
The idea behind this re-imagined wine rack is that it will hold your wine, but also serve as an art piece in your home. Form and function meet in this modern take on what a wine rack can (and should) look like, with a variety of colors to fit your home and heavy duty aluminum holders that add to the style.
This wall-mounted solution is an alternative to the clunky wine rack taking up space on your kitchen counter. What began as a Kickstarter campaign is now a full-fledged business for restaurants, casual wine enthusiasts, and everyone in between. I was impressed with the clean design, the quality of the materials, and the clear directions that came with the singular unit. However, the drilling required means that apartment dwellers who are avoiding fees by using adhesive strips won’t be able to put this rack to good use. One unit, which holds nine bottles of wine, retails for $129.99. However, the design function of these racks means that additional units will make a greater statement. You just need the cash for the multiple racks and the large wine inventory to make it worth it.
I see this as a perfect aesthetic solution for a restaurant or someone who would like to devote an entire wall in their home to their wine collection. But if your collection is small or your don’t have much space (the display will jut out from the wall about a foot or so), you might want to proceed cautiously with this wine accessory.
6. Aervana Electric Wine Aerator
If you’d rather not add to your collection of glassware by purchasing a traditional aerator, this electronic device will do the work for you. The company states it’s the first one to create an electric aerator that dispenses wine at the push of a button. It’s also designed to leave sediment at the bottom of the bottle; not in your glass.
The streamlined design is what’s first noticeable, and it’s incredibly easy to assemble. The aerator fits neatly over the mouth of the bottle and won’t drip once you begin using it. It’s powered by six AAA batteries and it was a pleasant surprise to find these were included (It’s not the cost of the batteries, but rather the hassle of remembering to buy some that makes this a perk). I was extremely impressed with the ease of use and the quick pouring that simultaneously aerated the wine I was drinking. Though it works with any wine, Aervana suggests trying it with your choice of Nebbiolo, Barolo, Petit Verdot, Malbec, or Cabernet Franc selections.
You can find quality aerators for less money, but the goal of this design is to focus on the wine itself, not how long it takes to aerate before filling your glass. Among other awards, the aerator won the 2015 Asian Catering Equipment Award for its light overall design and its innovation. The aerator retails for $99.98.
7. Corkcicle chilling devices
There’s nothing worse than a warm beer on a hot day. Or a toasty glass of white wine, for that matter. That’s where Corkcicle’s line of chilling products comes in. Frozen Chillsners inserted into beer bottles keep your brew icy cold until the last drop, and their whiskey wedge chills your choice of spirits without becoming a watery mess.
Among the best products Corkcicle has to offer is their Arctican, a koozie-like can holder that keeps your drink cold for up to three hours. The bottom of the holder twists off and is frozen ahead of time, which then keeps the last sips of your beverage of choice cold while you sip it poolside or at your backyard barbecue. When I tested it with a carbonated water (the beverage of choice for work hours), the drink stayed cold for the two hours I had it outside in the California sunshine. It’s easy to clean, and comes with a sleeve to adapt to any bottled beverages you might also want to insert. The only drawback is that if you order the matte black version, the outside can become hot to the touch in direct sunlight. It doesn’t affect the chilling capacity of the interior, though.
Corkcicle may be best known for its “Air” and “One” devices, which are chilling rods inserted into pre-refrigerated white wines to keep them cold, or into reds to lower them to a cellar temperature. The Corkcicle One is a three-in-one operation that keeps the wine cool, aerates the blend, and pours it into your glass. When frozen ahead of time, the chilling feature works as advertised: The chardonnay I drank stayed cold for more than an hour while sitting on my kitchen counter. Unfortunately, the rod (fashioned to look like an icicle) was a tad too long for the 750-milliliter bottle, which could be explained by the bottle’s punt (indentation) on the bottom. That meant the chiller didn’t fit snugly into the bottle, which caused the wine to leak when I attempted to pour it into the glass. While somewhat disappointing, I’m determined to give it another shot with a different bottle. To check out all of Corkcicle’s products, take a look at their website.