DeWine Report | "Good wine is a good familiar creature if it be well used."

How much wine gear do you really need?

Does this scare you? It shouldn't, because nobody really needs a whole bunch of wine gear.
Does this scare you? It shouldn't, because nobody really needs a whole bunch of wine gear.
Matthew DeBord/KPCC

A lot of people are intimidated by wine because they think they need to master a special corkscrew or buy special fancy stemware or use special decanters. It goes on and on. And the wine world doesn't help matters by marketing lots of...what's the technical term I'm looking for here? Oh yeah — junk to folks who aren't all that experienced.

So how much wine gear do you really need? Well, you can get by with a pocketknife and a Solo cup. Actually, if you buy wines that are sealed with twist-off screwcaps, you can dispense with the pocketknife. And if you don't need to stand on ceremony, you can get rid of the Solo cup. A glass wine bottle is its own kind of stemware.

I'm not really advocating either of these tactics (please don't drink straight from the bottle, unless you're having a picnic in Paris). But what you should obtain is a good corkscrew. I recommend a simple model from the Screwpull brand. It's basically fail-safe. You'll never ruin a cork. 

When it comes to stemware, I used to recommend somewhat premium stems, like those from Spiegelau or Schott-Zwiesel, but now I say just go and buy six or eight basic stems from IKEA. Total cost will probably be about $10.

That's all you need. A decanter is worth it if you intend to drink older wines, and even younger wines can benefit from decanting. But you can use any old clear jar or pitcher for the purpose. A nice decanter just makes for better presentation.

You don't need a wine rack. You don't need a climate-controlled wine storage system. You don't much of anything except thirst and curiosity.

Actually, one thing is a worthwhile investment: an online subscription to Wine Spectator. You get access to a vast searchable database, so you can learn as you drink and make better buying decisions down the road. A mere $50 gets you a year of online access. 

It's a wine education. And it costs more than you should ever spend on wine gear.