- Get rid of the annoying corkscrew with the wing-like arms and wobbly screw that's been taking up space in your kitchen drawer for the past 10 years.
Then buy one that works. One good choice: Sur La Table's Waiter's Corkscrew. $10; surlatable.com.
- Buy wine sealed with a screw cap.
New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is a top option, like the grapefruit-scented 2009 Nautilus Estate ($17).
- Don't worry too much about good or bad vintages.
Instead, invest your energy in knowing producers who make excellent wines year in and year out.
- Find an affordable wine you like, buy it by the case, and make it your house wine.
You'll save money (many wine shops offer 5 to 10 percent off case purchases), and you'll always have a good bottle on hand.
- For meals at fancy restaurants, look at the wine list online beforehand.
That way, your dinner companions won't spend 15 minutes twiddling their thumbs while you figure out which bottle to order.
- Gift strategy:
For last-minute gifts, keep a basic brut Champagne like Pol Roger's in the fridge. If it's there more than a month, drink it and buy another.