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A perfect top to pop on the bubbly

A trip to wine country leads to my discovery of the perfect little stopper for an unfinished champagne bottle.

Champagne stopper
A bottle's-eye view of the 'Le Bouchon' champagne stopper from Domaine Carneros. Corinne Schulze/CNET Networks

On a trip up to wine country last weekend I found a little kitchen gadget that tickled my fancy. A group of friends and I had ordered a few bottles of sparkling wine out on the patio of Domaine Carneros (which, by the way, has an excellent domain name). Our server brought out three bottles in ice buckets, and I noticed the bottles all had stoppers with a design I'd never seen before. I tinkered with them a bit and ended up buying one on the way out.

The design is basic but effective. It's made of metal and plastic, and it basically works like the top of a prescription pill bottle. You just push down on it, give it a quarter turn, and voila--those precious bubbles are sealed in nice and tight. I also liked that it can be put in what is effectively a half-closed position for those times when you want it closed but haven't stored it back in the fridge. Putting the stopper on the bottle and pushing straight down gives it enough suction to keep bugs out and bubbles in--useful at, say, a brunch where lots of people will be popping the top on and off to spruce up their mimosas.

Champagne stopper with pouch
The stopper comes in its own little velveteen pouch. Fancy. Domaine Carneros

Most appealing for me personally is that it's small, which is important because I don't have a very tall refrigerator. I have collected several wine stoppers over the years that are cute, but are adorned with decorative hoosiebobbers that stand up an inch or two above the lip of the wine bottle. That means they don't fit upright in my fridge--either in the door or on the main shelf. And that, of course, means storing an open bottle of chilled wine is pretty much impossible, or at the very least requires some serious finagling. (How I ever managed to acquire a wine stopper with a pink Victorian house on top is beyond me, but such is life for an apartment dweller in San Francisco.)

There are loads of different styles of champagne stoppers out there. But I love this one for its small size, simplicity and intuitive usage. Now I just have to find a way to keep a bottle of champagne from mysteriously emptying in one sitting so I can actually use my new stopper.