With summer finally arriving, people gather in gardens, parks, beaches, and other outdoor venues to enjoy sunshine, fresh air, and each other. And, of course, wine lovers bring their favorite beverages when meeting in nature. But how to protect your delicious wines from sun, heat, and other obstacles? In this article, we’ll discuss the best summertime wine tools that help you enjoy wine outdoors.
How Is Drinking Wine Outdoors Different Than Indoors?
You might wonder how enjoying wine outdoors is different from indoors and why you need special accessories. That’s a fair question. So let’s quickly summarize what you should have in mind before bringing your favorite beverage outdoors:
- Heat and Sunshine: When you put your bottle on the garden table or the picnic blanket, it will be exposed directly to the sun. That means it will heat up beyond the optimal drinking temperature rapidly. In extreme cases, it might even become unenjoyable. Thus, you should take measures to protect your wine and keep it cool.
- Unstable Surfaces: Garden tables are typically smaller and less stable than indoor dinner tables. Both factors increase the risk of tipping over and breaking a wine glass. And when drinking wine in the park or at the beach, you might not even find a flat and stable surface. To limit the risk of breaking glasses and spilling wine, it makes sense to think about shatterproof alternatives.
- Transportation: Carrying your wine from the cellar to your garden is not a problem. But when you’re invited to a friend’s house or go to the park or the beach, you face a problem. During transport, wine bottles can heat up, and you risk breaking them. With the proper containers, you can protect your precious wines and transport them safely.
The Most Useful Outdoor Wine Tools
In the following paragraphs, we will discuss the best wine tools for the garden, the park, and the beach. You definitely don’t need all of them, but having two or three of them at hand for spontaneous trips is a great idea. For all ideas, you will find shopping tips at reasonable prices.
Wine Bottle Coolers
Many people, including restaurant owners who host patrons in outdoor areas, use wine bottle coolers to keep wine chilled. These containers typically have a cylindrical shape that might remind you of a flower vase. They are just big enough to hold one bottle of wine. But instead of glass or ceramics, they’re made from stainless steel or plastics because these materials are better for temperature regulation. Commonly, manufacturers use two or three layers to protect the bottle inside from the heat outside.
It’s important to mention that wine bottle coolers only work for pre-chilled bottles. So their purpose is to keep wine bottles chilled but not to cool them down. Thus, you have to put your wine into the refrigerator before putting it in the bottle chiller.
Wine bottle chillers are great to keep your wine cool for a limited amount of time. But if the temperatures are very high and you need some time to finish the bottle, it might get too warm anyways. In this case, another wine tool is a better solution: an ice bucket.
Like bottle chillers, ice buckets are made from stainless steel or plastics, giving them good insulation capabilities. They have a significantly bigger volume than bottle chillers, though. This additional space allows you to add ice cubes that help keep the bottle cool longer. In some cases, the bucket is so big that multiple wine bottles fit in. Consequently, these big buckets often go by other names, such as wine tubs. No matter the size, ice buckets won’t make your wine freeze, so they are safe to use even for extended time periods.
Another wine tool that helps keep your wine chilled is a so-called wine gem. Wine gems are little cubes with a size of around one inch. As stainless steel has the great ability to preserve temperature, it’s the favorite material of most wine gem producers.
You can put these gems into the fridge until they’re really cold. Then, you simply put them into your glass to keep the wine inside chilled. So basically, the gems work like ice cubes, but they have one great advantage: They don’t melt, and thus, they don’t dilute the wine and its aromas. By the way, this feature makes the gems an excellent tool for whiskey or other precious spirits as well.
Wine Cooling Cups
Instead of putting wine gems into your regular wine glass, you can use special glasses to keep your wine chilled. Like gems, you have to pre-chill them either in the refrigerator or in the freezer. The reason is that these wine cooling cups have a double wall with a special gel in between. When put in the fridge, this gel cools down to the perfect wine serving temperature.
Other models have no chillable gel inside, but they have insulated walls and a lid to protect your wine from heat. They are not as efficient as cooling glasses, but nevertheless, they reduce the risk of overheating your wine. Tumblers with lids are perfect for a day at the beach because they shield your wine from the sand.
Besides temperature regulation, wine cooling cups have another noteworthy advantage: They’re made from plastic, making them (almost) unbreakable. When enjoying wine in nature where no stable table is nearby, that’s a valuable characteristic. Of course, the downside of these glasses is that they might not have the optimal shape to optimize the wine’s taste.
Shatterproof Wine Glasses
Cooling cups are just one type of shatterproof wine glasses. Many other variations are safe for outdoor use as well. Most of them come without stems to reduce the risk of tipping them over accidentally.
Many of these shatterproof glasses are made from steel, plastics, or other unbreakable materials. Because of these materials, they can keep wine chilled longer than glass vessels. Be aware that they are not as efficient as cooling cups. In some cases, the glasses come as a set together with an insulated bottle to transfer your wine to.
When you meet your loved ones at a friend’s house or in a public place, you need to transport your wine bottles. And of course, you want to protect them from breaking during transport.
A wine bag is a perfect tool for bringing your bottles safely to your destination. It has just the right size for a wine bottle. Most bags are also padded and insulated so the wine will survive light shocks and stay cool. Commonly, they have at least one handle or come as a backpack for easy transportation.
Of course, you can find wine bags that provide enough space for two or three bottles. Others have additional compartments for wine glasses or bottle openers. And for long journeys, you can consider a hardcover suitcase with foam inserts that perfectly protect up to 12 wine bottles.
Finally, it is a good idea to have gadgets that allow you to distinguish glasses, so you don’t confuse your and your friends’ drinks. Wine charms are the essential accessories for this purpose. These small wine tools have different shapes or colors and can be attached to glasses to make them distinguishable.
Some look like a keychain; you can simply wrap them around your glass’ stem. Of course, that’s only an option if you use regular wine glasses. For stemless glasses or tumblers, you need an alternative solution. Think about sticking markers that you can simply attach to the glass. Or you directly go for glasses with different colors.
What could be more relaxing than enjoying the sun, fresh air, and a delicious glass of your favorite wine at the same time? With the wine tools, accessories, and gadgets introduced in this article, you can ensure to make the best out of your summer wine party. Don’t forget the sun blockers!