10 Clever Wine Hacks
Whether you need to chill a bottle on the go or open wine without a corkscrew, these West Coast experts have you covered
Broken corks, pesky stains, and room temperature bottles—being a wine lover can be tough. But fear not, friend of Bacchus. We’ve gathered tricks of the trade from industry pros who know their way around a bottle or 100.
Want to be ready to pop a bottle at a moment’s notice? Lorren Butterwick of Martha Stoumen Wines keeps a small corkscrew on her keychain. “I was recently picnicking outside with friends and we realized we didn’t have a corkscrew for all of our delicious wines. One of my friends pulled out his keychain that had a small corkscrew attached; I went out and bought myself one the next day.”
Colleen Kenny, Bar Director at Portland’s Nostrana, has even used a butter knife to open wine in a pinch. “Carefully work the knife around the outer edge of the cork and the inside of the bottle. Take it slow, though—if the cork gets shoved in, it makes for quite the mess.”
Need to chill a bottle in a hurry? Andrew Mariani of Scribe Winery wraps a damp tea towel around the bottle and puts it in the freezer for 20 minutes. “Set a timer though; you don’t want to forget it’s in there,” he warns.
Martha Stoumen of Martha Stoumen Wines has some pro moves for chilling bottles on the go… and in the wild. “I keep a mini cooler in the back of my car at all times, and pick up a bottle and some ice on my way to a dinner party,” she says. “It chills as I drive, so we can get down to celebrating as soon as I walk in the door.”
As for those summer swimming situations: “I make a little dam out of rocks and chill my bottles in the river—this works especially well in the California Sierras.”
Stevie Stacionis of Oakland’s Bay Grape knows how to keep her rosé cold, and under-the-radar when heading to locales that, well, discourage BYOB. “Thermoses of (ahem) coffee or tea are usually not frowned upon, so I pour half a bottle of chilled rosé right into that thermos and waltz on in,” she says. “This is also delightful for long, leisurely bike rides ending on the beach at sunset.”
Decanting and Filtering
Looking to air out a bottle without a decanter? Dana Frank of Portland’s Bar Norman has the smartest hack of all: she stocks up on Erlenmeyer flasks. “I use the one-liter flasks for 750ml bottles and the 2000ml size for magnums,” she says. “I really love them because they’re durable, don’t take up much space on a table, and just make people chuckle. It seems funny to see wine in a scientific flask, but they work really well for aerating and cost a fraction of a fancy decanter.”
How about filtering out broken bits of old cork? Stevie Stacionis has a tip, one that works well in more rustic situations, too. “On a camping trip, we once filtered out broken cork bits from an old bottle with a crumbly cork by pouring the wine through a piece of gauze from our first-aid kit.”
Lorren Butterwick’s got you covered for wine stain removal and prevention. “Salt is my go-to for any wine stains,” she says. “If I spill wine on anything—tablecloth, clothes, etc.—I cover the stain with salt and let it sit for one to two hours, and voila: the stain is gone.”
Better yet: avoid stain situations all together. “If I am having a festive dinner party, I often put an oilcloth on the table. These are super colorful and cute—especially for an outdoor summer bash—and you can simply wipe any wine stains away with a sponge.”