Wine corks are hard to get back into their bottles. Often when you try to shove a cork back in, you find that it’s somehow gotten fatter in the hour or two it’s been extracted. With any luck, you can get the opposite end of the cork in, but the process is never pleasant. (And if it’s red wine, seeing that juicy red end up reminds you of your failure.) Sometimes what’s required is stuffing a paper towel into the wine neck, but then of course you have to store the wine vertically in the refrigerator, because storing it on its side would result in a soaked-through towel and utter disaster. You could use a Vacu Vin, I guess, but you may not want a large accoutrement that requires somewhat demeaning pumping in your home.
Believe me, I’ve been there — but then I found the silicone wine cork. I discovered my Charles Viancin Lilypad at a garage sale for a dollar. I own a crab-claw oven mitt, a little vase shaped like George Washington, and Mount Fuji chopstick rests, but I didn’t own anything in the shape of a lily pad, and it was so jaunty, it beckoned me. The people who were abandoning the Charles Viancin Silicone Lilypad Wine Cork had never had the pleasure of using it; somehow it was brand new, still affixed to its cardboard. But one man’s trash is another woman’s treasure. The Charles Viancin Lilypad Wine Cork does what you think it does: It plugs up a bottle of unfinished wine for fresh future drinking.
And I really do mean fresh — it doesn’t work miracles, but it helps keep wine for days, and unlike a paper-towel cork, it allows you to store a bottle on its side. You can even use it on sparkling wine (within reason). The lily pad sits flush against the bottle’s opening — no more worrying about whether or not the cork’s added height will make it into your fridge. I’ve upended my kitchen searching for it, when I’ve mistakenly believed it to be lost. Now that I know it can be purchasable online I’m buying a dozen, so as to never run that risk again. (You can also buy the stopper in other flora that appeal to you: sunflower, hibiscus, or poppy.)
Other wine-related accessories I love
I like a cheap waiter’s corkscrew, because it’s easy and I honestly don’t understand those wine openers with the arm things.
Plus, a Grub Street editor's favorite glass
I used to turn my nose up at people who spent lots of money on nice stemware. That was money, I always reasoned, that would be better spent on nice wine. I changed my mind when these Austrian glasses started showing up at all the high-end restaurants in Manhattan. These glasses just look, and feel, fantastic—somehow delicate and sturdy at the same time, with a hair-thin stem that, I’ve been told by my wine-snob friends, is what you’re really looking for when a single glass can cost as much as a gently aged bottle of Barolo. Which, sure, whatever. I mostly just love that these glasses are so strikingly luxurious. — Alan Sytsma, editorial director, Grub Street
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