As a relatively new wine hobbyist, you’ve received every sort of contraption imaginable as gifts from family and friends, right? Or maybe you’re an experienced and well-funded aficionado who has gone all-in with your fermented fruit obsession and procured a menagerie of gizmos for yourself, hoping to amp up your wine game to elite status with the latest and coolest experience-enhancing armaments.

Gazing upon such a varied array of vinous hardware, you’re filled with satisfaction for the tools you have on hand — while still positively brimming with FOMO for the ones that have so far eluded acquisition. Your social media feed torturously overflows with glittering advertisements for the hottest new grape gear. Trending shows on the small screen feature characters wielding proprietary wine instruments and catchy decanting methods in what has become a green-eyed, Hollywood-fueled, cork-dork arms race.

It’s high time for us all to hit pause and take a deep breath — because the vast majority of wine professionals would like to have a word with you.

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The reality is that while many of these shiny toys are indeed functional toward one end or another, they are also thoroughly and exasperatingly superfluous. And some? Well, some are just outright nonsense — including an ubiquitous and universally familiar standby found in all too many homes.

(Don’t worry, we’ll get to it.)

In reality, it turns out that all you really need, and all that pros themselves use in most professional and personal settings, is a quartet of classic essentials. That’s it.

So pour a glass, grab a pew, and listen up. Wine church is now in session.

The Wine Tool Heroes

It truly befuddles many pros as to why there is such resistance to using a wine tool so simple, so perfect, that it basically hasn’t needed a significant overhaul for 140 years. It’s straightforward. It’s effective. It fits equally as neatly in the pocket of your jeans, a petite clutch, or that uniform vest pocket.

It’s the waiter’s knife, and legions of industry professionals sure as hell wish you would give it a proper chance.

“It’s light, compact, inexpensive, and gives the user feedback while pulling the cork,” says Don Winkler, publisher of International Wine Review. “[It’s the] simplest, most reliable, and most portable device.”

Whether it’s referred to by alternate names like waiter’s corkscrew, sommelier knife, waiter’s friend, or just plain old wine key, its beloved effectiveness and uncomplicated elegance has endeared it to one generation after another of the professional sniff-and-sip set.

So, why the hesitance toward such masterful perfection?

It’s a fair question. Some amateurs seem afraid of it — maybe because the pros make it look like effortless magic? Possibly. And honestly, it may actually take a couple of attempts for some newbies to become fully comfortable. But in the end, that’s no excuse.

“‘I don’t know how to use it,’ or ‘it’s too complex!’” says Pedro Ramos, Michelin-starred sommelier and wine director and brand ambassador at Clarets Brazil International. He’s heard it a million times, and he’s done with the excuses. “I’m like, ‘What?! Come here let me show you … ‘Oh, that’s easy!’”

Ramos typically has several on hand wherever he goes just in case a neophyte or stubborn holdout needs to be converted. “Here buddy. Time to go pro,” he’ll say. “And please use it from now on.”

But we’re not done with the wine tool worship just yet. Now that the bottle has been opened, we need a glass. And not just any glass.

“For those older vintages, the ultimate tool is the Durand. [It] combines the ah-so and corkscrew and can hold together very difficult older corks. It’s worth the investment.”

For pros in the know, it’s all about a well-made set of straightforward “universal” stemmed glasses. “I’m a huge supporter of the universal wine glass,” Ramos says. But nowadays, glassmakers assertively market different shapes and styles for a wide array of varieties and blends. And sure, they can be fun toys to play with. “If you have the money and storage space to have a huge collection of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Barolo glasses, etc., then be my guest and collect all them Pokémons!” Ramos adds.

Fundamentally though, a proper universal stemmed glass is all one truly needs.

But what about stemless wine glasses? They seem to be everywhere now. And while they aren’t exactly the end of the world, most industry professionals agree that they’re best reserved for settings like casual parties and outdoor gatherings — not for high-quality bottlings or elegant environs.

After all, the stem is there for a reason.

Bonus Wine Toys That Are Actually Useful

What is normally an extra contraption for many, can, in reality, be an absolute imperative for collectors of older vintages.

Anyone who has experienced the indescribable joy of having to MacGyver a broken, half-shredded cork out of a fine older vintage is in desperate need of a twin-prong cork puller. These nifty and incredibly simple gadgets — sometimes referred to as a blade opener, ah-so, or butler’s friend — only take a few attempts to master. Simply wiggle the blades all the way down between the cork and glass, then gently turn while slowly pulling.

“It seems that everyone who knows I like wine wants to give me useless devices.”

Easy, right? And it’ll save everyone the lamentable, tragically messy theater of cringily plunging down the ravaged corky mass then filtering sad, bobbing fragments from the fragile old juice through a makeshift sieve.

Now, when you absolutely, positively have to open every old cork in the room, accept no substitutes and level-up to the supreme cork hero. “For those older vintages, the ultimate tool is the Durand,” says Brandon Sparks-Gillis, partner at Dragonette Cellars in Santa Barbara. “[It] combines the ah-so and corkscrew and can hold together very difficult older corks. It’s worth the investment.” Like the man said, it’s expensive. But it works.

Additionally, as a winemaker frequently needing to taste or show off many different vintages to a guest or colleague — and wanting to do it without committing to opening half the winery’s library — Sparks-Gillis is also a fan of the Coravin.

Yes, it’s a polarizing tool. Professional opinions across the industry on its needled, gassy, wine-extracting wizardry vary from enthusiastic to get-off-my-lawn. But there’s no denying that for certain tasting purposes, it’s a godsend. “[It] comes in really handy for that,” Sparks-Gillis says. “In our tasting room, we have an argon tank hooked up to a Coravin which allows us to show multiple vintages without loss.”

Last on the list of functional bonus tools? A decanter. However, these glass vessels needn’t be elaborate or fussy. Unless enthralled with collecting old, unusual, ornate decanters (Ramos readily admits he has a problem with the fetish) — or obsessed with exposing every last cubic millimeter of wine to air — a basic, inexpensive one-liter water carafe does just fine for most purposes.

The Despised Nemesis of Sommeliers Around the World

The kitchen drawer opens. You shudder. There it is, staring you down like some sort of sadistic, cork-mangling Mr. Blonde. The host says that’s all they have, so you make do and laboriously shred one stopper after another during the evening; a tear falling from your rage-red eyes on each tortuous attempt.

Most will know this vicious maleficence as a winged corkscrew — and its similarly horned designer is still mocking us from his fiery kingdom below.

There’s no accounting for how many decent, honest corks have been demolished by this monster. It typically employs an auger bit — as opposed to a proper worm screw — which is quite literally intended to bore out large holes in any other application or setting. So, what does it do to corks? Exactly that, while inducing utter fury in every wine professional on earth.

“I hate it,” Ramos says. “When I go to peoples’ houses and they’re like, ‘Oh, I got this opener. It used to be my grandpa’s.’ Well, no shit … should’ve kept it there.’” And yet this large, heavy, clanky destroyer of worlds seems to have no end in sight for its cruel reign. God help us all.

Less Is More

There are enough goofy proprietary implements out there to populate a small country. We’ve reached peak absurdity with our wine accouterments. And still, designers and inventors continue to conjure up increasingly complex solutions to problems that don’t exist, all to have another shiny new object to dangle in front of consumers.

“It seems that everyone who knows I like wine wants to give me useless devices,” Winkler concludes. It’s a fact of life. If people know you’re into wine, expect to receive some wonky trinkets.

But when the chips are down, and it’s time to deliver a highly respectable wine experience for yourself and others, all that’s ever really required is a waiter’s knife, some good universal stemware, a simple carafe for decanting, and a twin-prong puller for those geriatric corks.

That’s all. Done.

Now step away from the toy aisle, and save that hard-earned cash for what matters most: the juice.