Create your own wine bar

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Welcoming the freshness of spring inspires many of us to organize, rearrange and purge closets and shelves. How about having some spring fun with a second look at how you entertain with wine?

The movie images of the ’50s and ’60s depicted suave gentlemen assembling bourbon beverages from intricately designed liquor trays set with all the accoutrements. It was customary to offer a drink whenever someone entered your home or executive office. We do the same today, but with less grace; however, the routine remains the same and applies to serving wine. Now’s the perfect time to take your wine service up a notch.

Wine glasses
In those old movies, the liquor tray was stocked with the appropriate glassware; highball, martini or cordial styles are all specific to how the beverage is presented and enjoyed. Wine enjoyment is similar. Red wines and white wines are served in various styles of stemware to showcase the unique properties of wine. The larger bowl of a wine glass enhances both red and white wines influenced by oak because the layered nuances can open up; the narrower wine glass is generally used for floral or citrus white wines that benefit from minimal air contact. Sparkling wine flutes contain the wine’s bubbles; this flute style is also my favorite way to appreciate dessert wines and ports, since the elongated glass style allows me to savor the condensed aromas that travel to the palate.

Varietal-specific styles are designed to showcase Cabernet, Chardonnay, Pinot noir, Bordeaux or Champagne.

Stemless glasses are the rage right now with good reason; they stack nicely in the cupboard, are sturdier on the counter and travel well in picnic baskets. Yet the stem is valuable for protecting the wine from the heat of your hand, and it reduces the fingerprints that cloud the beauty of your wine. The manufacturer has designed your wine glass to provide perfect palate delivery, ensuring that sip of Zinfandel passes over a thin rim of glass onto your tongue. To start off with a general wine glass, look for a Pinot noir-style glass that can be your first move into quality stemware to enhance any wine you are pouring.

Wine openers
The romance of opening wine remains a focal point both in the wine bar and at home. Selecting wine openers can be tricky with so many automatic options, but purchasing a wine key from your favorite winery is one of the best ways to go, since they’re using this essential tool every day. Select one with a bit of weight that fits in your hand comfortably, contains a foil cutter and two-step leverage, allowing for the occasional delicate cork that requires more coaxing.

Necessary tools
Wine stoppers come in all shapes and sizes. It’s important that the stopper seals the bottle from outside air, protecting the wine from oxidizing. Some purchased wine stoppers expel the oxidized air from the bottle or come with an antioxidizing gas that can be sprayed into the wine bottle as well. Although it’s not a guarantee, there is value in keeping unfinished wine as fresh as possible.

Your wine might also benefit from an aerator and a decanter. In the old days, farmers would simply give the bottle a good shake, then pour the contents into goblets. Today, we have handy aerating tools that also serve as wine stoppers. Does aerating work? Yes, aerating actually invites the wine to open up and breathe. If the wine has been sitting in storage for a while, aeration and decanting can make a huge difference, separating the sediment and allowing outside air to warm the liquid. A decanter doesn’t have to be fancy, but it must be a one-handed operation that allows you to pour from decanter to glass safely.

Fun items
Is that my glass or yours? This happens frequently enough that wine charms, wine pens and stickers now abound. At wine-tasting events, one of the top activities is having guests decorate their own wine glass. Whether it’s with small half-circle papers that wrap around the stem or metallic bejeweled wine charms, identifying one’s glass has become a fun ice-breaking activity everywhere.

The bar itself
The most important key to your wine bar is accessibility. Scout estate sales and vintage stores for old bureaus, buffet tables, sideboards and bookshelves that can be repainted or lined with contact paper. If you have room for a plain bookshelf in your kitchen or living room, this is a great place to begin. Each shelf can accommodate your personal wine bar stemware and tools without using a lot of square footage.

Now relax, pull that cork, pour the perfect glass for your guest and yourself, and enjoy! HLM



We suggest these basic items to create your personal wine bar:

• 6 red wine glasses
• 6 white wine glasses
• 6 champagne flutes
• Cocktail napkins
• Tapas plates
• Wine charms
• Cotton wine towels
• Wine openers
• Bottle stoppers
• Aerator
• Decanter
• Wine reference books
• Wine club tasting notes