Shiny, handcrafted cheese tools are pretty to look at and appealing to display alongside a cheese plate. But some cheese enthusiasts say a sturdy wire can be just as useful to have on hand, especially when it comes to serving softer wedges.

A basic stainless steel wire with a handle on each end, sold at kitchen supply stores such as Fante's in the Italian Market, can be used to slice neatly through messy, melty cheeses. Using a fine wire makes a clean, sharp cut that results in a nice-looking, manageable serving of cheese.

Cheese wire tools can also used for butter, cheesecakes, and other densely baked goods, such as layer cakes.

Cheese wire, $4.99 at Fante's Kitchen Shop, 1006 S. Ninth St.;