Wine preservation systems
What works well, what's a good value, etc.
Has anybody seen any reports scientifically comparing different products/systems (lets say vaccuum pump vs. nitrogen vs. argon). Any web links I should look at?
I found this: http:/ www.bettertastingwine.com/preserving....
What are restaurants using?
I'm leaning towards "Private Preserve" system (value for money) but have heard good things about the "ReServe" (expensive, especially if I need it for several different bottles at the same time).
I have several: 2 nitrogen (bottles of Private Reserve being one), argon and Vac-u-vins. Maybe I just have less leftover wine, but all of the non-pump units are gathering dust. For short-term storage in the 'fridge, the pump works fine. I even have one, plus a half-dozen stoppers in all of our larger suitcases, so we are never without, when traveling.
I've never done a controlled experiment with these devices, and suppose that I should. However, as stated, it just doesn't stick around that long.
re: Bill Hunt
[Meant this as a reply to the OP. Sorry.]
Well, friends and I have done a semi-controlled side-by-side test and inert gas came out the winner. The test featured four young mid-priced wines: two whites (a Burgundy and an Alsatian Riesling) and two reds (a Burgundy and a Médoc). A third of each bottle was transferred to a half bottle and sealed with a Vacu-Vin type system; another third to a 250-ml screwcapped bottle and gassed with Private Preserve; and the remaining third was left in the original bottle and recorked. (Unfortunately, we didn't test freezing.) The wines were tasted blind two days later. In every case, the majority preferred the gassed wine.
Based on that test, personal experience (I used Vacu-Vin for years before trying Private Preserve) and anecdotal evidence from people in the food and wine service business, I've concluded that vacuum pump systems are only slightly better than just recorking the bottle. The pumps remove aromatics; they don't create anywhere near a perfect vacuum, so oxidation continues, only at a slightly slower rate; and they aren't airtight (the next day you can pump out almost as much air as you did the day before), so their benefit, such as it is, lasts only a few hours.
Like Bill Hunt, I haven't conducted controlled tests either but I've used both the Vacu-Vin and Private Preserve and haven't really noticed any difference. The Vacu-Vin keeps the wine tasting fresh for at least 5 days (I haven't tried it longer than that) and it I find it easier than the Private Preserve. I was initially hesitant to use either one, but they seem to work fine as long as you don't wait too many days.
if my wife and i are going to have one glass each with dinner, i simply transfer the remaining half bottle into an empty 375ml bottle, cork it and put it in the fridge (reds and whites)...chances are we will consume the balance within 48 hours and i've never had a wine "turn" using this method.
All I can add to the already on-target responses is that every one of the professional preservation systems on the market (these are mostly designed for wine bars and similar use) are inert gas systems. Argon is supposed to be the best choice for systems that allow you to choose. The two consumer versions (Private Preserve and Wine Life) use combinations of Nitrogen, Argon and CO2). In my experience, most wineries that use anything use one of those two.
Here's a link to am Italian company that makes very high end systems for restaurants, bars, etc.. What I read says they use Nitrogen, but I believe their systems will use Argon as well. They claim no degredation after 20 days (but these systems are high-tech, totally enclosed units where the wine is never exposed to air after the bottle is set into the unit. http://www.enomatic.com/ I priced their 8-bottle, 2-temp unit @$12,000. The same unit with the card system was $20K. Not something for home use, but the message is, I think, in the gas.
The only 'pricey' one I know of that isn't major $Ks is the Pek system that runs around $200 and is also a refrigeration unit which, IMHO, is overkill. As to the effectiveness ...I'm sure it works better than Private Preserve or VacuVin, but a big downside is that it only holds a single bottle. My vote would go to Private Preserve/Wine Life and your home fridge. My experience is that gas is more reliable than air removal... YMMV.
If you have a large number of bottles to preserve at a single time, and the $200 doesn't bother you, here's what I did....... Go to a compressed gas supplier (usually in the yellow pages under gas or oxygen equipment) and see if they can set you up with a small tank, gauge, regulator and hose w/\trigger nozzle. Have them fill the tank with nitrogen or argon. This is really geared toward a wine bar or restaurant use, but it's a pretty cool deal to have if you do a lot of tasting and entertaining and have a lot of leftovers. At $10 per can of Private Preserve, it will pay for itself @ around 20 cans of PP. Those cans say they give 120 'uses' but I find they run out of pressure at around 40 uses or so. I've had a tank of argon, that cost $17 to fill, preserve 500 bottles and it's still 75% full.