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Sunday, Nov. 9, 2003

Topping off your tipple


Staff writer

As wine has become more popular in Japan, an increasing number of related goods have appeared on the shelves of the nation's shops.

News photo
A glass for Beaujolais Nouveau

Of these, what's needed first and foremost is an opener to get at the bottle's contents without too much trouble. Although there are many kinds of corkscrews on the market, those who still have problems twisting and pulling may find their prayers answered by the French firm Le Creset. All the eager quaffer has to do to operate their Screwpull is turn a handle to drive the screw into the cork -- which is then pulled out at the same time.

With that hurdle overcome, it's hardly seemly to be imbibe straight from the bottle -- which is where glasses come in. Not that a glass is a glass is a glass, of course, as the fashion for wine-drinking has spread worldwide.

No longer mere receptacles, wine glasses of different thicknesses, shapes and sizes deemed best-suited to what's being drunk are widely available. Among these, which variously claim to enhance the appreciation of a wine's color, bouquet and -- most importantly -- taste, crystalware from Austrian maker Riedel has a longstanding reputation. Among its range, Riedel has a glass with a compact, quite narrow bowl designed to make the best of Beaujolais Nouveau by allowing its color to glow and its bouquet to rise to maximum effect.

If your favorite wines are white or rose, however, you probably prefer to drink them chilled -- and sure enough, all manner of special wine-cooling containers are there to keep you sweet (or dry, or medium-dry). Although most of these are variations on refrigerators, others are portable boxes that you line with briquettes cooled in a fridge to avoid the problems of melting ice. A perennial favorite is a nifty little sleeve kept in a freezer until required. Once slipped over a bottle, it does the trick of chilling it in just 20 minutes.

Finally, though, you may find yourself unable to finish a bottle. It would seem criminal to pour away the remains -- but don't despair. The taste of a wine will not degrade in just one day if the bottle is properly recorked. You don't have to look far to find a variety of decorative corks to do the job.

To keep opened bottles longer, the Dutch firm Vacu Products has come up with the Vacu-Vin. This specially designed vacuum device uses a pump to expel the air from wine bottles in the process of recorking. At 2,200 yen together with a set of two rubber caps, it's a gadget that wouldn't take long to earn its keep in any wine-loving home.



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