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.