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Jun 16, 2006 01:21 AM

wine saver

  • j

what's the best product out there to keep a bottle of wine and where can i buy it? keeping it corked seems to last only 2-3 days tops with out refrigerating. i started looking into the vacuum pumps, do they really work? thx.

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  1. I am not at all clear on the science but I cannot understand how the pumps possibly could work. After all you can't pump all the oxygen out of a bottle because what are you replacing it with? Yes, you get a satisfying sound when you open a vacuum pumped bottle, but 90% of the oxygen has got to still be in there.

    My husband swears by the vacuum. I tried unsuccessfully to talk him out of it after reading an article by Karen McNeil (sp?) a few years ago where she tested them and found no difference with simply recorking. The nitrogen you spray in makes more sense to me.

    Some wines taste better the second day open. But my preferred method for saving an open bottle we won't be finishing the next night is to refrigerate, white or red, as you said. Take it out before dinner or let it warm up in the glasses.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Junie D
      Robert Lauriston

      Consensus among wine professionals seems to be that argon works better than nitrogen.

      It's all a matter of taste, so if the vacuum pump has a placebo effect, what the heck.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Yes, much to be said for the placebo effect! My husband sleeps better at night knowing the wine is vacuumed, so I keep quiet.

        Is argon sold in spray cans too?

        1. re: Junie D
          Robert Lauriston

          Private Preserve spray uses a blend including argon.

          You can get it pure from welding supply places.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            What size containers of argon can you get from welding supply places? The only size I've seen are the H cylinders which are about 4' tall. I've though about doing this but never followed up.

          2. re: Junie D

            Your husband would sleep better if he just finished the bottle.

            I have the vaccum saver, too.

            But now I just drink what's left.

            1. re: ODB

              Amen. The leftover bottle tends to be the second, or from several bottles opened with a bunch of people for dinner. The suggestion to pour leftover wine into smaller bottles is a brilliant idea - after all that's what we do to prevent oxidation when we rack the homemade wine.

      2. Keep a set of smaller, resealable bottles around. Pour remaining wine into a bottle that just holds it and leave only air contact in the neck and reseal then refrigerate.

        6 Replies
        1. re: mdibiaso

          I do this too. I have a half dozen 375 ml cointreau bottles(keep the plastic seal screw top caps) that I use to decant the 750 ml white/red wine bottles into. A half bottle of wine for dinner is just right for me.
          I also have a couple of 187 ml screw top bottles that I keep for the same reason. Sutter Home Chardonnay comes in these single serving sizes.

          I also use the canned spray nitrogen canisters sometimes but it galls me that it's so expensive. I mean nitrogen is cheap. I don't think the vac pumps work that well if at all.

          1. re: mdibiaso

            You might want to try freezing your wine too for longer storage. I've been freezing wine and defrosting them successfully after 3 months so far. At first I was adding Private Preserve to the headspace, but I don't think it makes that much difference as long as I got the wine into the freezer right away. This seems to work best with younger wines, especially acidic reds like Brunello or unoaked whites like Chenin Blanc. You will get sediment and precipitation of tartrates in wines that haven't been cold stabilized before bottling. Just pour the liquid off carefully and the taste is relatively unaffected. The photo below shows some of my defrosted samples in a tasting line-up.


            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Based on your experience with wine, why do you suppose most sources would say that freezing wine alters it too much? You may be the first person, with some serious wine experience, I've heard recommend this method of storage.

              1. re: Midlife

                First of all, we're talking about wine that's worth saving for another day. Most is not. The exposure to air and the freezing is a forced "aging", and the wine needs to have sufficient fruit concentration and structure to still have something left after that treatment. The person who first recommended freezing to me offered a rule of thumb to use it with wines that I felt could survive an overnight open in the refrigerator. The quality of the wines, defrosted weeks and months later, was actually better than you'd expect keeping it overnight. In my sampling, the acidities and aromas were more intact and fresher.

                In the last few months, I've frozen and defrosted about 70 examples. The first trial was with a young Central Otago Pinot Noir (retail price ~ $35), just for me to get a sense of whether this was worth doing or not. I defrosted it a week later and took it to a wine tasting to have others try it with me. We all agreed that it was still quite enjoyable and expressive of its place and grape variety. So, I pressed onward and kept putting away wine in the freezer.

                The advantage of freezing is that you can keep the wine longer than would be advisable under gas. In my case, I decanted the wines into small lab sample bottles to save freezer space. But it might be better to gas what's left in the original bottle and freeze it that way. You'd avoid oxidizing the wine in the pouring/decanting process.

                The disadvantage is not being able to predict well enough yet which will do well. At least I can't. The older oaked whites (e.g., 1996 Pessac-Leognan) didn't hold up that well, but every other white wine showed better than when I've kept similar wines under gas. You can see the tartrates on the sides and bottoms of the vials in the photo in my post above. The four Alsatian whites on the right hand side came through beautifully, and I was amazed at how well the aromatic components were preserved, which is one of the issues I have with gassing.

                The reds throw a ton of sediment, as highly extracted, minimally filtered red wines will with age. Even the Pinots had a lot of sedimentation, more than an older Pinot Noir would usually have.

                Defrosted reds -

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Thanks Melanie,

                  Interesting stuff. I'll give it a try. This could really shake up some of the people I know in the wine world, if it's as unusual (maybe revolutionary) as I think it is.

              2. re: Melanie Wong

                How do you recommend defrosting the wine? Slowly in the fridge?

            2. I find Private Preserve-type inert gas to be the most effective system; wines (of any colour) stored up to three weeks in the fridge under gas have not suffered in the slightest. (Note that I typically transfer the wine to an approriately sized screwcapped bottle before gassing it.) Freezing comes in second place, the main problem being its tendancy to cause some red wines to throw a deposit. VacuVin comes a distant third and then only for short-term storage (less than 24 hours); downsides include its removal of aromatics and lack of airtightness (you can pump about as much air out after 24 hours as you did originally).

              FWIW, a few years ago, friends and I did side-by-side tests involving four young mid-priced wines — two whites (a Burg and an Alsatian riesling) and two reds (a Burg and a Bordeaux). A third of each bottle was transferred to a 250-ml bottle and gassed; another third into a half-bottle and "sealed" with a Vacu-vin type system; and a third was left in the original bottle and recorked. The wines were tasted blind two days later. In every case, the majority preferred the gassed wine.

              1. I know that some restaurants use Argon, but i dont know how that works at the household level

                1 Reply
                1. I am discovering this thread rather late (actually-- when did CH start a wine board? I know we have all been agitating for YEARS!). Also v. interested in Melanie Wong's report about freezing and like Pei wonder about defrosting procedure. Also about sealing: you mention lab bottles. Do you seal with cork? Incidentally I have stopped using my vaccuvin mainly because the rubber corks impart off flavors themselves. I have tried cleaning with baking soda and everything else I can think of but they still turn wines bad. My test has been to use them to cork san pellegrino, which tastes dreadful the next day.