Ring in the New Year with These Hosting Essentials

We can’t think of a better way to start the New Year than being surrounded by delicious food and the people you love. This week, we’ve gathered all the equipment you need to ring in 2019 with a celebratory evening of tasty appetizers and great cocktails.

Our highly recommended electric wine opener drills straight into the cork and removes it without even a wobble from the bottle. Our top-rated mini slow cooker keeps dip warm and melty for hours. For the best-ever party food, look no further than the Party Appetizers course from our online cooking school. This course is overflowing with great information, including how to stock the bar and how to prepare a charcuterie and cheese board, plus recipes for crowd-pleasing snacks such as Roasted Artichoke Dip and Mushroom Pâté. Cheers to a great 2019!

This mini slow cooker’s trio of temperature settings allowed us to select the perfect temperature whether we were keeping dip warm or cooking a soup scaled for two. Its gentle warm setting meant we could keep queso dip molten and melty for several hours without it getting hot enough to break or scorch. A plus: its bright indicator light, which let us know when it was too hot to touch.  More on this test

These precut parchment sheets, which come in a large plastic zipper-lock bag, are the only ones in our lineup that are stored completely flat. They're also sized just right to slide easily into a standard rimmed baking sheet, although we did have to use two overlapping sheets when rolling jelly roll cakes into coils. Their superior convenience made them the runaway favorite. Don't let the purchase price distract you: The per-sheet cost falls squarely in the middle of our lineup.  More on this test

"There's a reason we have 20 or 30 of these in this kitchen," said a tester; others agreed, calling it "Old Faithful." They found it notably sharp, with "great maneuverability." In sum: "This is exactly what a knife is supposed to be." Update: November 2013 Since our story appeared, the price of our winning Victorinox Swiss Army 8" Chef's Knife with Fibrox Handle has risen from $27.21 to about $39.95. We always report the price we paid for products when we bought them for testing; however, product prices are subject to change.  More on this test

Coming in a variety of useful sizes that nest for compact storage, our winning set performed ably on almost every test. Its wide, shallow bowls were easy to hold, fill, empty, and clean. They can be used in the microwave and the oven. While the bowls in this set were the only ones to break when dropped, the heaviness of the glass with which they’re made makes it unlikely that they’ll easily fly off the counter.  More on this test

Tasters agreed that this long, tubelike aerator, which resembles a cigarette holder, made the impact on wine. It brought out “fruity flavors” and a “pronounced floral” aroma. The device slides into the neck of the bottle, leaving only a pouring spout, for neat, hands-free aerating.  More on this test

This countertop model is both the simplest to use and the sleekest. Applying light pressure to the carbonating block allowed testers to choose between gentle carbonation and intensely effervescent bubbles. CO2 canisters are long lasting and convenient to exchange in dozens of retail stores (including Crate & Barrel, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Sur la Table) for half of the retail price.  More on this test

Trappist Seville Orange Marmalade earned strong points for its natural orange flavor and was also the favorite of our testers who liked a solid level of sweetness as well as a moderate amount of tartness, which our tasters defined as grapefruit-level. Tasters also liked the balance of rind to jelly as well as the marmalade’s consistency—it was praised as an excellent spreading marmalade.  More on this test

Our winner had the highest fat content and one of the lowest moisture contents, and it was aged the longest: 12 to 14 months. Those factors added up to a cheese that tasters raved about—specifically its “excellent crystalline structure”; “dense,” “fudgy” texture; and “deeply aged, caramel-like,” “grassy” flavor that came through even when baked with spinach and onions.  More on this test