Wine Preservation Methods and Gadgets Review
There are so many types of wine preservation systems and tools, ranging from the basic vacuum pump, inert gas, to the more sophisticated system such as Reserve, Wikeeps, and SoWine. Very recently, the Coravin was introduced as a new way to open a bottle without uncorking.
How do these wine preservation tools compare with the traditional method of preserving a wine (recorked and store at cellar temperature), which by the way, is still being practiced at wineries throughout France?
We rate each wine preservation system / gadget on four dimensions: i) their effectiveness to preserve an open bottle [number of days]; ii) on value for money factoring in cost of gas refills; iii) on applicability; and iv) on convenience and ease of use.
The below infographic highlight the most popular methods and their effectiveness. A more detailed review follows.
The Traditional Method to Preserving An Open Bottle
Decades ago before the invention of wine preservation gadgets, an opened bottle of wine would be stored underground in the wine cellar (where temperature is ~13°C or ~55°F). Some would pour the remaining wine into a smaller bottle, filling up to the neck, to minimize the oxygen in the bottle.
Many wineries in Europe still preserve opened bottles in this manner. In our winery visit, Madame Trapet from Domaine Trapet Burgundy commented that her wines could stay fresh for a week in such manner.
In our testing, wine stays fresh for 2-3 days. The pro of this method is natural and is free (assuming you use empty half bottles). The con is when you pour wines into a smaller bottle, you are exposing it to air. The wine will still evolve in the glass so it is best consumed within 2-3 days.
Vacuum Pump with Stopper
This is probably the most basic way of preserving a wine with a gadget. The vacuum pump extracts oxygen from the bottle, enabling it to stay fresh longer.
Pro: Compare to the above traditional method, the remaining wine is never transferred to another bottle so stay fresh longer. It is very affordable; the cost of a basic vacuum pump with 2 stoppers average US$ 10 in the market.
Con: Some wine lovers believe that delicate aromas are extracted out of the bottles along with the oxygen. For complex wine, many would opt for the inert gas method (below).
Inert Gas Method
Spray inert gas into the remaining bottle to form a protective layer of coating on the wine. Insert a cork to recap the bottle. The most popular inert gas is the Private Preserve Brand which uses argon gas.
Pro: Highly effective, allowing a bottle to be enjoyed over 3-5 days. Cost averages $10 per can, so very affordable. Inert gas is odorless so will not affect the aroma and flavor of the remaining wine. A normal can of inert gas can be used ~100 times / sprays.
Con: There really isn't much con on this method... let me know if you have any bad experiences.
Savino Wine Saving Carafe
Savino wine saving carafe has a glass float that sits on top of the wine. The float serves as a protective layer separating the wine from the oxygen.
Pro: Some may appreciate the aesthetic value of having wine in a glass container.
Con: A glass float does not offer the best protection from oxygen. Worse, a transparent glassware means the wine will be exposed to light & UV, which will accelerate aging and possibly damage the structure of the wine. As for design, at the price of US$ 60, many wine lovers complain the glass is too thick to be a classy carafe.
WikeepsAfter opening a bottle of wine, insert WiKeeps to pump inert gas into the bottle while squeezing the wine out.
Pro: Only the intended for consumption portion will come into contact with air. Effective way of preserving an open wine, keeping wine fresh for 1+ week.
Con: Pricey, Wikeeps retails at US$ 199. Constant cartridge refill requires. One cartridge (~US$ 6) can serve ~3 bottles, as each pour requires gas displacement.
This is the latest wine preservation gadget, opening a bottle without uncorking it. A needle is inserted past the foil into the bottle. Argon gas is injected and wine is squirted out.
Pro: Enable a wine lover to preserve a bottle for months, as the condition in the bottle is minimally disturbed.
Con: Pricey, the coravin costs US$ 299. Gas refill cost in addition to that.
Note: Coravin does not work on synthetic cork nor screw caps... though most fine wines rarely come in synthetic corks or screw caps... so we didn't find this to be much of a problem.
Eurocave SoWine Machine
Put an open bottle into the Eurocave machine. Press the top lever download to draw the oxygen out of the bottle. Select the type of wine (red or white) and the SoWine machine will preserve the bottle at the optimal temperature.
Pro: Wines can be preserved without contact with oxygen and at the right temperature. The machine can be used to prepare mature wines for consumption as well. Store mature wines in this machine (uncorked) a day prior to consumption to allow sediments to settle.
Con: Pricey at US$ 495 per machine. Requires countertop space and runs on electricity. Also the temperature chilling may not work properly when room temperature exceeds 25°C / 77°F.
Which system is suitable for you depends on your needs. How many days do it take you to consume a bottle of wine? Do you drink a lot of fine wine? Do you have frequent needs to preserve a bottle of open wine for over a week?
Depending on the value of the wine, maybe a Coravin or Eurocave is a worthwhile investment?