Cre­ative Danes MENU: Classy Norm Wine Gear

Scan­di­na­vian de­sign doesn’t have to be ex­pen­sive. And it doesn’t have to be IKEA ei­ther. Ear­li­er this year at the New York In­ter­na­tion­al Gift Fair, we stopped by the booth for Cre­ative Danes, a Unit­ed States dis­trib­u­tor of in­ter­est­ing prod­ucts from Nor­way, Swe­den, Fin­land, and- of course- Den­mark. We look at lots of oth­er nifty house­hold and kitchen prod­ucts, but some of our fa­vorite items in­volve wine. Af­ter all, a great bot­tle of wine is on­ly made bet­ter with the ap­pro­pri­ate glass­ware, and pop­ping the cork should be done with class.

To­day, we’ve got a few pieces from the Menu NORM col­lec­tion. It’s an odd name, to be sure, but the de­sign­ers Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen & Kasper Rønn take a tra­di­tion­al col­or scheme and add an ap­proach­able qual­i­ty with new ma­te­ri­als or quirky touch­es. And the prices are in­cred­i­bly rea­son­able.

The first of the trio, the NORM Wait­er’s Corkscrew, wasn’t a great in­tro­duc­tion un­for­tu­nate­ly. The look and feel is quite de­cent- small, er­gonom­ic, and rub­ber-coat­ed- and it folds up tight­ly in­to a cute and small pack­age. But a good corkscrew should do one thing well- un­screw a cork- and this one was pret­ty tough to use. The screw it­self didn’t seem par­tic­u­lar­ly sharp, and the sin­gle-lev­el met­al flip-out that adds lever­age was wonky and a lit­tle slip­pery. There is a foil cut­ter in­clud­ed, and the end is a bot­tle open­er, but it just didn’t de­light. At $20, it’s a good-look­ing de­sign, but sac­ri­fices us­abil­i­ty.

Luck­i­ly the Wine Breather Carafe is re­mark­ably bet­ter. It makes a great ini­tial im­pres­sion- a love­ly shape, the met­al and black ac­cents- but al­so of­fers a fair­ly unique fea­ture that sets it apart from oth­er ways to let your vi­no open. All you need to do is tilt the bot­tle ver­ti­cal­ly over the de­canter and set it down on the lip, be­ing care­ful to pour it in slow­ly at first and then let­ting it stand and drain. This way, you get ev­ery last drop out of the bot­tle, and it looks sharp while do­ing so. You can then re­verse the op­er­a­tion af­ter it’s aired a bit, pour­ing it eas­i­ly back in­to the bot­tle thanks to the tight seal. We were ner­vous about pour­ing it back from the carafe to the bot­tle, but it worked! You can al­ways pour di­rect­ly from the carafe as well, though it’s not quite as drip-proof or easy as we might’ve liked. But the NORM Wine Breather Carafe is jus­ti­fi­ably a de­sign award win­ner, a showy piece, built well, that ma­tures your wine in two min­utes or so- and is on­ly $50.

Fi­nal­ly, NORM al­so of­fers the Blade Vac­u­um Pump and wine stop­pers- avail­able sep­a­rate­ly or in a set with the afore­men­tioned corkscrew. Pre­vent your wine from ox­i­da­tion by seal­ing the bot­tles with the pair of in­clud­ed caps, and then suck­ing out the re­main­ing air with the pump. If you al­ready have a sim­i­lar sys­tem, this one won’t be com­pat­i­ble- and if you don’t, this one is a bit hard to find. But if you on­ly need two ‘corks’, or want to give a gift to an oc­ca­sion­al wine drinker, this pump is love­ly . Avail­able in red and lime as well, ours was black, and fea­tured a large hold that you use to grasp the han­dle for pump­ing. It’s a bit more dif­fi­cult than oth­er sys­tems that use a two-fin­ger grasp han­dle, but works sim­i­lar­ly and the re­sults were equal­ly snug. $25, avail­able on­line.

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