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Private Preserve and other solutions for preserving wine in an opened bottle

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As many of you, I love a glass of fine wine...... In fact I love a glass of fine wine every evening with my meal.

Problem is, there are six glasses of wine in a bottle and I eat out 2-3 times a week. So an opened bottle could last me up to 10 days.

I have been using the Vacu Vin method of air removal by suction for the last few years with reasonnable success (ie. within 3-4 days of opening the wine is still drinkable after which quality drops off).

I have read about Private Preserve (the inert gas spray can) though have not yet found it in European shops (BTW. any European reader know where it can be purchased?)

General consensus seems positive about Private Preserve but I would ask the Chowhound Board experts what is their take on this solution to lenthen the life of the god -given pleasure once the cork is out of the bottle.

Also would be love to hear about other successful wine preserving solutions.

Thanks,

Aosta

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  1. Seems as though items like Private Preserve are not shipped internationally, probably because of cost or issues involving the impact on the contents during transit. I make a high-pressure Argon device, mostly for restaurants, hotels and winebars and domestic shipping is expensive enough, let alone international, due to its classification as Hazardous Material. I even found an Australian-made low-pressure Argon spray can (Private Preserve is a somewhat less effective tri-blend of gasses) and it doesn't appear to be sold outside Australia.

    What you use for preservation depends, to a large degree on your palate sensitivity to oxidation. In ALL cases REFRIGERATE the wine. Air and warm temperature result in oxidation.Private Preserve works fine for a few days and most agree it's better than a vacuum pump. The simplest thing to do (and maybe the best, if the amounts work out) is to pour the wine into a half-bottle or stoppered clean salad dressing bottle....... with no room for air at the top...... and refrigerate. The idea is to keep air away from the wine and keep it cool.

    If you find yourself needing something often, and the small bottle idea isn't doing it for you, check out my profile page. :o)

    2 Replies
    1. re: Midlife

      With regard to pouring the leftover wine into half-bottles and refrigerating, I've heard several winemakers mention this. They also said to put the wine in the freezer if you aren't going to get back to it in the next few days. Allow extra ullage for expansion.

      I've been a fan of PP for years. Forget Vacu-vin. Despite the claims of two weeks, I think 3-4 days is the most you can expect for good preservation. I just use a small amount of PP and those stoppers with the lever that snaps to the side and a rubber thingy expands to seal the bottle (don't know the exact name).

      1. re: 53latour

        Carswell and others -- have you continued your experiments with freezing following your posts about 4 years back (Melanie Wong et al : http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3032...). I'm really tempted to try lab jars and the freezer to let me sample a wider range of wines -- what do people think? Has this stood up as an option over the last four years or been found to be lacking in some way??

    2. Huge discussion on Private Preserve and alternatives here:
      "Best ways to preserve an open bottle of wine "
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7077...

      Just look for a 100% argon gas product. Private Preseve isn't that.

      In Italy, try:
      Argon from Sigma-Aldrich.

      ReServe at Amazon.com in Italy and at Kremer snc, Mr.Vinicio Sacchi, Via P.Potenza 35, 62010 Montecassiano-Mc, Tel: +39 0733 598825, Email: info@antrum.it

      If Midlife can get some of his new 100% Argon product to you in northern Italy, that would be great!

      2 Replies
      1. re: maria lorraine

        ML,

        Seems that I tried 100% neon once, but then the "light" did not go out in the 'fridge," like it should, or so it seemed... [Grin]

        Hunt

        1. re: Bill Hunt

          Tee hee. Same is true for argon. Run a current through it and it will light up like an incandescent bulb. Figures since icandescent bulbs are filled with argon. (Now, krypton more often.)

      2. 10 days I understand, but am I the only one that finds that wine improves after it is opened? My leftovers usually are consumed within a day or two, but they seem to get better and better to me. My wines are not particularly young, usually 2001 to 2004. Do most people age their wines longer for a slower oxidization? I just don’t get the need for argon gas.

        1 Reply
        1. re: BN1

          The "improvement" depends on the taster and on the wine. I have had some improve, based on my (and often others') palates, but have had some, that faded to zero, or nearly so. By my estimation, it depends.

          Enjoy,

          Hunt

        2. Over the decades, I have used Private Preserve, or similar, and now just fall back on Vac-u-vin, and the 'fridge, with good results. I do have to admit that the opened bottles seldom languish that long, but I cannot tell the difference between an inert gas blanket and a well-pumped Vac-u-vin in the 'fridge. I obviously let both the whites and the reds come up to temp, and have not done a full "control," but have not had issues. I still have a large nitrogen cylinder, plus 2 - 4 bottles of Private Preserve, and will likely go to my grave with them.

          That is not an indictment of those methods, but I have decided that they are unnecessary for me.

          Enjoy,

          Hunt

          3 Replies
          1. re: Bill Hunt

            After doing the research on wine preservation, I don’t think Private Preserve is a good product. Too much CO2 and nitrogen, and too little argon. Too much solubility in the wine, causing a different set of problems. It’s well-marketed but not effective. There is little blanketing from the gases, and PP pales in comparison to 100% argon.

            I agree with Midlife that Vacuvin works poorly. “The [Wall Street] Journal asked Professor David Roe of the Portland State University chemistry department to test the gizmo…At best he achieved a vacuum of somewhat less than 70 percent…In just 90 minutes, he reported, the vacuum pressure diminished by 15 percent.I asked Professor Roe to repeat his test with a newly purchased (newer, ‘improved’, model) Vacu-Vin. The results? “The pump is more efficient, but no more effective,” he reports. “The vacuum is the same, around 70 to 75 percent. And the leak rate is the same: After two hours you lose 25 percent of the vacuum. Overnight – 12 hours – the vacuum is totally gone.”From “Friends don’t let friends Vacu-Vin,” by John Cesano.

            1. re: maria lorraine

              Odd. I have never detected loss of va\cuum with VacuVin. It always makes quite a sucking noise when I break the seal no matter how long the wine is in the fridge. Nevertheless, I agree with the 3-4 day preservation time, and it is clearly impossible to generate a major vacuum with the system, but it still works.

              Maybe my non-leaking seal is due to my technique. In an effort to reduce the chance of contaminating the wine, I always run the stopper under the instant hot water spigot before using it, wet, to seal the wine. Maybe the wet silicone makes a better seal than a dry stopper.

              As i have no measuring equipment, i will leave the proof as an execise for someone who does.

              1. re: therealdoctorlew

                That's a good tip: wetting the stopper with hot water for a better seal.

          2. I think they both do roughly the same job. Private reserve is not going to expel 100% of the oxygen. Vacuvin is not going to suck out 100% of the oxygen either.

            My method, which works well if I know I'm only going to drink half a bottle or less, is to open a bottle, and immediately decant half of it into a clean half bottle (minimal splashing). Then private reserve or vacuvin, then into the fridge. The airspace is already minimal, so even if I just corked it with no inert gas spray, it performs roughly the same the next day compared to the inert spray or vacuvin. I just use the vacuvin/spray to assuage any fears away. My bottles rarely make it past day 2 =).

            40 Replies
            1. re: Cary

              Your method works fine. Actually your way answers a question I've always had about the half -bottle method in general. That is, how it is employed when what's left over from a full bottle is more of less than a half bottle in volume. You get out ahead of that.

              But............. I really have to take issue with a couple of things in you first paragraph. Admittedly results will vary based on the wine and the sensitivity of the taster, but I've done a lot of work in this area and I can tell you that if VacuVin and ANY kind of quality gas are compared favorably, it pretty much has to be over a very short period of time or by someone who is not very sensitive to oxidation. I've never met a sommelier or serious wine person who believes a hand vacuum pump really works well enough. One winemaker/enologist insisted to me that the best it can do is remove SOME of the air. What's left is still in contact with the wine in the bottle, allowing it to begin oxidizing.

              Also............... the idea behind a gas preservation method is NOT to displace all the oxygen in the bottle. It's to create a barrier layer on TOP of the wine in the bottle so that the wine is not in contact with the air. I can't speak to a gas MIXTURE as used in Private Preserve, but Argon is much heavier than air, and is completely inert, colorless and odorless......... so it displaces enough air (if used in the correct amount) to form a reliable layer of protection on top of the wine (assuming the bottle is kept vertical). BTW- my source on that is staff at the UC Davis Dept of Enology & Viticulture, as well as our own maria lorraine, who has already posted to this topic.

              The real benefit of any of the preservation methods is really beyond day two anyway. I've had knowledgable tasters find no change in wines after 7+ days using Argon. Nothing close to that with a vacuum pump.

              1. re: Midlife

                Most of the information you were told and have retyped is correct, however it's the details that matter.

                Time to revisit your old chemistry textbook. The molecules of gases are constantly in motion, and in general, become completely mixed in a system such as a re-corked bottle of wine. Initially the argon gas may "sink" but will eventually become evenly mixed. There is no "complete layer" of argon on top of the wine unless 100% of the oxygen has been removed from the bottle.

                In anycase, I wouldn't disagree private reserve or argon would have an edge over the vacuvin ASSUMING that almost all of the oxygen has been displaced from the container.

                1. re: Cary

                  At the very least that one 'detail', the word "eventually" may be critical to this discussion. I'm not a scientist, enologist, physicist, or engineer, but I've been using Argon this way for 5+ years and I know it works for 7+ days in most situations. I also know dozens of wine venues that use it with similar success. You're not the first person to challenge some of this real-life experience with basic scientific principles here on Chowhound, but I've also gotten corroboration, from wine experts who've done timed testings with Argon used this way. Whether the 'layer' has an indefinite integrity or not I can't debate, but that isn't necessary in practical use of these products............. unless one expects the wine to stay protected for weeks and weeks....... which I don't.

                  Much of my information, which you apparently think I just 'retyped' from somewhere, has come from personal discussions with staff at one of the largest commercial gas producers in the world, staff enologists at UC Davis, the CEO and winemaker of one of California's best known wineries and various other people in the wine and gas businesses. These discussions included specific references to the end-use of the gas, and none of the sources questioned its effectiveness using your basic principles.

                  I don't doubt that there could be academic substance to what you say, as I've been told that the closed gas preservation/refrigeration dispensing units you see in wine bars or restaurants DO suffer from the wine beginning to oxidize after 3 weeks or so, and these units supposedly replace ALL the air in the bottle with gas continuously.

                  I'd be interested in academic sources for principles that would elaborate on this debate. For one thing, if Argon is substantially heavier than air (as I've been assured it is), then it certainly does fall to the bottom of the open space and has to displace the air in that space. If the bottle is not moved around a lot, what is it that changes that basic weight relationship???

                  On a related subject.............. what's yur take on the probable effectiveness of " Wine Preserva", the pliable plastic disc that is inserted into a partiable bottle and lays on top of the wine surface as a "barrier" against the air above it. I've been told (by supposed experts) that it works, though I don't see how it could really do that. http://www.winepreserva.com/

                  1. re: Midlife

                    It is too simplistic to think of a mixture of gases as a mixture of oil and water. Certainly in the oil and water scenario, the oil will always rise to the top because of less density. A mixture of gases behaves differently however. For academic sources, I'd have to refer you to basic chemistry textbooks.

                    I am not questioning the actual properties of argon and how it helps to preserve wine. I believe your experiences are valid. Proper usage of argon or Private Reserve does work. I'm not disputing the results. On the other hand, I could displace the oxygen with pure nitrogen gas, and achieve the same preservation effect. (Nitrogen being lighter than "air" )

                    At the end of the day, It's the removal/displacement of oxygen that matters. I took issue with your explanation how argon/private reserve works. Otherwise one could get away with spraying just a little argon (or private reserve) and expect the argon just to sink to the bottom and form a "layer". I'd wager you don't do that.

                    1. re: Cary

                      Actually, I've been trying for some time to find a way to measure just how much Argon it takes to get the job done successfully. I'm sure it could be done in a lab, but I haven't been able to get even a suggestion of cost for such a procedure. I obviously can't see the gas, but I HAVE tried varying 'counts' of gas going into the bottles and, beyond what seems like just a small amount of gas, there doesn't seem to be a perceivable difference. I just don't know how much of the head space that 'small amount' fills. So you could be very right on that point.

                      As to the comparison between Argon and Nitrogen..... I know that many wine preservation systems use Nitrogen, but a staff research associate at UC Davis told me that their department agreed that "Argon is heavier than Nitrogen and stays in the bottle better, both on top of the wine and doesn't leak out as easily". I see where the term 'leaking out' suggests that the gas eventually mixes with whatever else is in the head space, so again, it seems as if the issue is one of how long that takes for each gas. Also, the Italian company, which makes the highest quality 'closed' systems available, recommends the use of Argon over Nitrogen.

                      1. re: Midlife

                        Yes, Nitrogen is lighter than air, so argon would be easier to displace oxygen.

                  2. re: Cary

                    <<There is no "complete layer" of argon on top of the wine unless 100% of the oxygen has been removed from the bottle.>>

                    Argon displaces 99.5% of the oxygen, very near 100%.

                    <<The molecules of gases are constantly in motion, and in general, become completely mixed in a system such as a re-corked bottle of wine. Initially the argon gas may "sink" but will eventually become evenly mixed.>>

                    With the oxygen removed, this doesn't really matter. it's academic.

                    Buit sure, you could perform the complicated calculations involving gas diffusion coefficients and molecular collision diameters relative to time (Fick’s Second Law) to determine how long it would take before the argon and air were completely mixed.

                    But just by diving into some academic/scientific reading, you'd learn that nitrogen and argon behave very differently when introduced into air. Nitrogen will easily and completely mix with air almost immediately. Argon behaves much differently. It moves like a liquid, in a laminar fashion, forming a layer and pushing the column of air up. It stays put; it's sluggish. Its sustained blanketing properties are well-documented. It's not called a shielding gas in the scientific and manufacturing communities for nothing.

                    Eventually the argon layer will dissipate and mix with air, but even then the wine will decay little because the oxygen is gone and the air mixture is argon-dominant.

                    <<On the other hand, I could displace the oxygen with pure nitrogen gas, and achieve the same preservation effect. (Nitrogen being lighter than "air" )>>

                    Nope.

                    First, nitrogen is far less efficient than argon at displacing oxygen. It takes about 8 times as much nitrogen as argon to displace the same amount of oxygen.

                    Second, in scientific study after study, argon inhibited oxidation even when oxygen was present, whereas nitrogen did not. When the sensory preservation qualities of argon were compared to nitrogen and other gases, argon always won. The amount of residual O2 using nitrogen was 10 times the amount of residual oxygen using argon (.5% residual O2 for argon compared to 5% residual O2 for nitrogen).

                    The studies were carried out by the academic wine community, packaging companies, food technologists and food manufacturers looking to preserve freshness and shelf life. The tests weren’t only done on wine, BTW, but also on cheese, coffee, produce, potato chips, nuts, pizzas, processed meats, poultry, orange juice and fresh pasta.

                    Here's the kicker: Even if nitrogen could get the residual oxygen in the bottle down to 0%, it STILL wouldn’t be as good as 0% oxygen with argon.

                    That’s because argon does more than get rid of oxygen. It also inhibits the enzymes that cause oxidation (oxidases), thereby preventing oxidation in two distinct ways.

                    To find the studies and documentation, check out the textbooks and published articles by Jung Han, Kevin C. Spencer, Gordon Robertson, Robert Steele and others. Search terms at Google Scholar or Google: Each of the author names *with*: argon vs. nitrogen, argon, nitrogen, wine, wine preservation, food packaging, etc.

                      1. re: maria lorraine

                        Maria, I think you're arguing against points that I never tried to make. I know it's easy to get worked up on this topic. I was.

                        We both agree it's about displacement of oxygen (inhibition of enzymes, which I concede I didn't know about). Obviously the more oxygen that is displaced, the more effective the argon would be. We both agree that initially argon forms a "layer" but it does mix. (I didn't want to get into the laminar flow of argon in air in my earlier posts). The amount of argon used does matter. If 99.5% of oxygen is displaced by argon, then layer or not, oxidation is going to be effectively retarded. If 10% is displaced, I wouldn't be that confident in the "layer" of protection after a few days.

                        I did agree that argon more easily displaces oxygen than nitrogen. I never claimed nitrogen was the most efficient method; I was just making a point (not a great one I guess) regarding displacement of oxygen.

                        I would be curious to see how effective argon would be if we say, displace only 50% of the oxygen, in a half full 750mL wine bottle. If most of us tend to finish bottles within three days of opening, maybe 99.5% displacement wouldn't be necessary.

                        I didn't know about the inhibition of enzymes by argon, so that was good to learn.

                        At the end of the day, I originally got worked up because people often say addition of "some" argon works BECAUSE it's "heavier" than air so it forms a "layer" above the wine and ends the explanation at that. As is, that explanation is incomplete at best. There is more to the story. Le fin.

                        1. re: Cary

                          I'm interested in knowing whether you or maria lorraine could suggest a simple method for determining just how much Argon gas is injected into a bottle in X seconds???? I've asked my gas supplier if there's a way to color the gas so you could actually SEE it happening, but they haven't responded in a useful manner. Next, I guess, would be finding out if a lab had a way of detecting Argon by some other means.

                          I guess what I'm asking is whether there's a reasonably simple way of seeing how much gas it takes to get the job done properly.

                          1. re: Midlife

                            Midlife,
                            It’s simple to ascertain but it requires some homework. Ask the argon manufacturer to give you flowmeter statistics for your brand, something like cubic centimeters per second (cc/sec). (Wineries use SCFH -- Standard Cubic Feet per Hour because their hoses are larger, and have much more volume to cover than a home user.) The gas scientists at the manufacturer will know this. Then you can do a rough calculation of the ullage (1/4, 1/2, or 2/3 of the bottle x 750 ml). Since ml=cc, you just have to divide the ml of the ullage by the argon gas flow (cc/sec), to see how many seconds of spraying will fill up the ullage. Standard procedure is to double that amount.

                            That's if you want to fill the ullage. It's not necessary. Everything I've been reading lately says a layer of argon works fine.

                            1. re: maria lorraine

                              I'm sure I can get that detail but my semi-analytical mind is thinking that some of this will depend on the flow rate of the dispensing device and the size of the aperture through which the gas flows from it. No???

                              I know I'm using a "count" method that works in practical experience, but it would be interesting to know just how much gas that is. It's specifically related to the question of whether you need to inject more gas if the bottle is more empty. Pure logic says no........ a barrier over x amount of wine surface is the same barrier unless what's above it affects it's ability to protect? The other 'method' I use and suggest is to stop when you smell a significant increase in the wine's aroma as the air is being displaced. That's probably not as reliable, but it is more user-'provable'..... if you will.

                              1. re: Midlife

                                What I meant was, call the canister manufacturer (brand name manufacturer) and ask. They all have this information. Obviously if the label says preserves 20 bottles of wine, they know how much gas is in the canister and how quickly it flows out per second.

                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                  Maria,

                                  My questions have been in regard to the device I market.

                                  I fill (trans-fill) the cylinders ('cannisters') myself from a large Argon cylinder. I know the pressure I fill to and have an approximate psi figure for the flow out of the needle of the regulator. I've e-mailed the company that makes the regulator for me to ask their engineer if he can help me with a flow rate in volume.

                                  I get 700 uses from a 12oz. cylinder filled to 1800psi. I suggest 3 to 5 second of flow, depending on how empty the wine bottle is, but I don't think that detail gives me any specifics as to how much space is being filled in each bottle. Am I wrong?

                                  1. re: Midlife

                                    Go here:
                                    http://www.scottecatalog.com/ScottTec...
                                    http://www.airproducts.com/products/f...

                                    There's a difference between pressure measurements: psia (absolute) and psig (gauge), so find out which yours is.
                                    http://forum.onlineconversion.com/sho...

                                    Might be a good idea to put a flowmeter on one of your canisters to check (about $150) or pay someone to measure it.

                                    1. re: Midlife

                                      ah. I had a hunch, but Midlife, I know who you are now ;)

                                      As maria says, a flowmeter is the easiest and most accurate method.

                                      A quick back of the napkin type estimation is to connect your cannister to a completely empty gallon ziploc-type bag. Dispense for X number of seconds into the bag. Quickly seal it. Completely fill a measuring container (or big lab beaker) with water. Displace water with the argon-filled bag. Remove bag. Measure the difference in water levels in milliliters and that's how many cubic centimeters of argon was in the bag. (or if you have an accurate scale, you can weigh the container+water before and after, and the difference in weight in grams is the cc's of argon) For slightly better accuracy, dunk the completely empty bag into the full measuring cup and find out the volume of the bag itself and subtract it from the argon-bag milliliter number.

                                      1. re: Cary

                                        Thanks Cary,

                                        I'll give that a try, though I've also asked the company that makes the regulator for a flow rate. Hopefully they'll be able to help with this. I'm just curious as to how much gas is actually going into a bottle using a seconds count. I KNOW it works, but the 'layer' issue has always intrigued me when people ask if they need more gas in a more empty bottle. I recommend more but I've never really thought it was necessary, assuming the minimum 'count' injects enough gas to do the job.

                                        I came up with my 700 uses figure the old-fashioned way. I did a number of physical tests, at approximately 5 seconds, and kept count. I actually got to over 800 before the flow got too low to be effective, but decided to quote a more conservative number. May have developed some carpal tunnel doing it.

                                        How do you know me?

                                        1. re: Midlife

                                          Once you said you market argon, by selling small canisters of argon. There are a few non-industry products out there that only wine geeks know about. A google search confirmed it. =)

                                        2. re: Cary

                                          <<or if you have an accurate scale, you can weigh the container+water before and after, and the difference in weight in grams is the cc's of argon>>

                                          The volume displacement will measure the cc of argon (since it is water soluble), but the weight difference will not since argon gas is far lighter than water.

                                          Water = 1g/cc. Argon = .00178g/cc.
                                          Or, 500cc argon gas = .89g, not even 1 gram.

                                          1. re: maria lorraine

                                            You misunderstood or I didn't type it clearly. Probably the latter. I meant weigh the full container of water. Displace water with argon-filled bag. Water overflows out of the container.
                                            Reweigh container. The difference (in grams) is roughly the cc's of argon.

                                            1. re: Cary

                                              Unless I'm missing something, it seems like the argon gas dissolved in the overflow water would not be measured. A bigger container would get around the problem.

                                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                                Argon is in the ziploc bag. Overflows the completely full container of water. Reweigh.

                                                1. re: Cary

                                                  I get it.If this works, it'd be a good rough guess.

                                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                                    yup. back of napkin type estimation.

                                                    1. re: Cary

                                                      OK.... I tried this just now.

                                                      It was a little tricky because I'm not up on the proper technique for submerging a plastic bag of argon in a container of water and getting the level just perfect to the top.

                                                      Gas injected in bag in seconds: 10 (double what I'd use in a bottle)

                                                      Weight (my scale was ounces only) of filled container; 36.5 ounces
                                                      Weight with bag removed: 23.75ounces
                                                      Difference: 12.75 ounces = 361.456 grams

                                                      Google says that 1gm=1cc=1ml. If that's correct, then

                                                      361.456 ml = 10 seconds
                                                      5 seconds (my normal suggestion) = 180.728ml

                                                      That would mean that a 5 second spray of Argon would inject enough gas to fill 25% of a 750ml bottle. That's a fairly substantial barrier.

                                                      Please check the conversions and my math, but the space taken up by the gas in the bag DID look pretty much like about 1/4 bottle in volume.

                                                      :o)

                                                      1. re: Midlife

                                                        You know................ after all that, I was trying to explain the procedure to my wife and, rather than go through the entire thing, I simply injected Argon into a small ziplok bag for 5 seconds and then used both hands to fold back all the excess plastic around the gas inside. The 'pillow' that was produced (like the air-filled pillows that come in Amazon shipments) was held next to a wine bottle and it looks very much like around 20-25% of the space inside the bottle.

                                                        I know that example doesn't provide any numbers, but it is a pretty dramatic visual demonstration. Now...... if maria lorraine gets some answers from those scientists, I'll have more to explain why Argon works.
                                                        Thanks guys. :o)

                                                        1. re: Midlife

                                                          <<180.728ml. That would mean that a 5 second spray of Argon would inject enough gas to fill 25% of a 750ml bottle.>>

                                                          <<The 'pillow' [of argon] that was produced... looks very much like around 20-25% of the space inside the bottle.>>>

                                                          Those two estimates point to the argon creating a protection layer arther than entirely filling the ullage.

                                                          If you do use a preservation gas, it is important that the bottle be stored vertically (so the layer remains undisturbed). I'm still gathering the responses from the scientists.

                            2. re: maria lorraine

                              I've written ten gas scientists and asked them these questions:

                              If one sprays argon into a wine bottle to create a protective layer above the wine,
                              how long before the argon layer diffuses into the air layer above it in the ullage?

                              Is a layer sufficient or is the argon gas diffusion so great that one needs
                              to completely fill the ullage with argon and displace 100% of the O2?

                              Is an argon layer sufficient for 1-3 days storage?

                              If so, how much of an argon layer is needed?
                              For example, for 375 ml of ullage (meaning, half the wine is drunk), is 125 ml (cc) sufficient? (One third of the ullage.) Or does one need more?
                              If 500 ml of ullage (2/3 of the wine is drunk), is 200 ml (cc) sufficient?
                              (40% of the ullage).

                              Is completely filling the ullage with argon necessary to preserve the wine for a week or more?

                              The replies are coming in, and I think I'll know by the end of next week.
                              Will report back.

                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                This should get interesting. Hopefully you know some of these people well enough to get them to get useful answers. My experience has been a reluctance to comment very specifically on a medium (wine) they may drink but haven't studied scientifically. They'll usually explain the science, but stop short in regard to my application itself.

                        2. re: Cary

                          <<My method, which works well if I know I'm only going to drink half a bottle or less, is to open a bottle, and immediately decant half of it into a clean half bottle (minimal splashing).>>

                          I am a fan of transferring leftover wine into smaller bottles also. I don't use gas preservation when I do this, and my personal experience is that the wine truly lasts for 3 weeks this way, especially if you fill the wine all the way to the very top of the bottle. Other than that, it's 100% argon all the way, and that is the preferable method if you want to keep a beautiful bottle or show the bottle to guests when you open it again.

                          When I have lab samples, they are given to me in small lab bottles that look like the ones below. These are the best bottles I've found to use for transferring wine, since they come in different sizes. You can buy individual bottles, so you can have on hand a few 250 ml, some 125s, or whatever sizes work for the amount of wine you have leftover.

                          Here are some Amazon.links to what I'm talking about. Go online (the lab bottles are usually called "media bottles") or call around to the scientific supply houses in your area to get the best price. Amazon sells them also. My lab bottles are clear, but I kinda like these because you can label what you've got stored in them:
                          http://www.amazon.com/Wheaton-Standar...
                          http://www.amazon.com/Wheaton-Standar...

                           
                           
                            1. re: maria lorraine

                              Maria,

                              This question may appear a little obvious, but, should I assume these are glass recipients with plastic/rubber stoppers? I guess platics would inadvisable?

                              Do you aslo recommend fridge storage to slow wine evolution, even for Reds?

                              1. re: Aosta

                                Yes, to the fridge...always. Even for reds.

                                These are standard lab bottles with hard "plastic" caps. Very simple. Obviously, non-reactive. Don't know what the cap material really is -- composite?

                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                  ...but the body of the bottle is glass?
                                  ...reds to the fridge...and then a long, agonising, wait while your Nebbiolo gets up to the right temperature?....hmmm...I don't know if I have the patience....I'd start sipping way to early and spoil it!

                                  ...what do you doto get your cold wine up to speed? ...do you zap it into the microwave for a quickie?

                                  1. re: Aosta

                                    I have decanted red wine into smaller bottles, and leaving only minimal air space, and store them at room temperature. There is practically no change in flavor after a couple of months. Just try it yourself and see if you get the same results.
                                    Years ago I threw away my vacuum pumps and all that gear.

                                    1. re: Aosta

                                      Yes, glass. Hmmm, I don't know about an agonizing wait, but a little time for it come up to temp, yes. A half-hour perhaps? While I'm preparing dinner...

                                      Tripeler has a tip worth a try. Forgo the fridge, but I've read many times the fridge really helps to forestall wine aging...

                                  2. re: Aosta

                                    They're phenolic caps with Polyseal liners. Food grade. Non-reactive. Used all the time with beer.

                                  3. re: maria lorraine

                                    Hi Maria Lorraine and others reading this. I searched Amazon and some of the medical/science supply areas for glass media storage and these are on the pricey side. What I just found, and would be curious people's take on, is a set of glass jars sold for babies that looks much less expensive and equally good for wine storage. I realize many may find the thought of storing wine in baby bottles odd, but the price is good and the quality of the glass should be as good as that found for the lab (Wheaton, etc). At least that's my first thought. Any comments?

                                    http://www.amazon.com/Evenflo-Classic...

                                    This is a set of six 4-oz bottles for $12 -- it does come with lids for storage and is clear glass --

                                    1. re: tb_baltimore

                                      Question :Doesn't the tall white cap extend 1-1/2" above the glass rim -- so there's lots of ullage??

                                      Any jar will work --no need to buy something -- just avoid unlined metal lids.

                                      Evenflo bottle here. Nipple is inverted showing where the glass on the bottle ends.

                                       
                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                        I've not actually bought these, so I don't know if that's a problem or not -- the product description reads that the lid (not the nipple) is flat for storage (like a regular lid) and so I would imagine that it could be filled to the top without much ullage. It's actually harder than I'd thought to find jars that are about 4 or 5 oz. Most of the lab media jars are 100 ml or 250 ml and from $8 to $12 each. Ideally, for me, 150 ml would be great. I suppose another option is to reuse jars from olive oil or other food items. Those have the advantage of being opaque, but might be harder to clean.

                                2. I think this is agreat conversation about Argon. The question that has always bothered me is that if it is heavier than air, when you tip the bottle to pour, then it has to end up in the glass, and you drink it - and no-one has to tell you it's in there

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: WineCrusader

                                    As far as I know Argon gas is non-toxic if somehow ingested. The Material Safety Data Sheets I've seen for it do not show a danger from swallowing it; in fact, they say "not applicable" because it IS a gas.

                                    maria....????????

                                    Breathing too much of it in can, however, cause asphyxia..... difficulty breathing.

                                    1. re: Midlife

                                      A small amount is fine to breathe in. It's even used in hospitals for certain bronchial conditions. Too much is too much, though. I'd imagine that most of the argon blows away, with the turbulence of pouring the wine and swirling it pretty good to release the aromatics.

                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                        Addendum: It's been deemed GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) by the FDA.

                                  2. Since my wife doesn't drink but I like to have a glass of wine each night, here is what I do:

                                    I open a regular (750 ml) bottle, and pour 1/4 of it into each of three 187.5 ml bottles, then pour the other quarter of the bottle into a glass to drink that night. Then I refrigerate the other three bottles and drink one on each succeeding night until those three are gone, then repeat the process with another bottle of wine.

                                    You can buy a 4-pack of 187 ml bottles of wine from Big Lots for $3.00 that have screw tops. I just wash out the bottles and let them drip dry after each use. Works better than any Vacu-Vin or gas solution, if you ask me. The bottles are small enough to store anywhere in the fridge and you don't have to worry about tilting it or laying them on their sides, etc.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: monkuboy

                                      I like the various sizes of the ceramic cap and rubber washer with the wire frame fastening system, sorry don't know how else to describe them, except similar the Grolsch (and most European) beer bottles of yesterday.

                                    2. With PR and similar gas systems based on TINY little ampoules, you are paying exorbitantly for gas. If you use such a system regularly (and inert gas bottle sparging really does work), you will quickly spend more on replacement ampoules than it would cost to buy a small cylinder of argon and a low-pressure regulator. Your town's welding supply store has the small argon cylinders for sure, and if they don't have the regulators, good used medical grade regulators are not that expensive on eBay.

                                      The beauty of having a real tank is that you can sparge with enough argon to KNOW you've purged all the ambient air before you stopper the bottle (there is no such thing as a "layer" of inert gas that settles below the air, otherwise we'd be breathing argon when we change our oil!).

                                      I'm a winemaker, and I routinely sparge my top-up kegs and carboys from my gas-racking argon tanks. Actually, it happens anyway, because I use argon to push the wine out the top-up wand. If I'm lavish with the argon, I notice no difference in oxidation or flavor between the kegs that are kept partially empty and those with no ullage--even after MONTHS. Lately, I've even taken to sparging the tiny little ullage in carboy necks. At my next bottling I'm going to experiment with completely displacing air from some bottles, and compare over time with unsparged bottles.

                                      Oh, and here's a little tip to know how much gas is generally enough: Just as you've flowed what you THINK is enough argon into your container, try to strike one of those cheap butane/piezio fireplace lighter wands over the mouth of the bottle/carboy/keg. If you can't strike a flame, you've put in enough (obviously you shouldn't be flowing it in at a rate that BLOWS out your flame). Of course if you've hooked up the acetyline tank by mistake, you might want to break out the Nomex suit...

                                      12 Replies
                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                        This is excellent advice.

                                        Briefly reporting back on research: It's true that argon does NOT form a layer, and that you cannot layer one gas under another. This is a widespread fallacy, believed by many people in the wine industry, even by those who work in the gas industry. I talked to a few people at the large cylinder gas companies and even they had the wrong info (of course, some of them were trying to sell gas). Some UC-Davis wine professors had the same bad info. Finally, a few gas chemists explained to me how the fallacy got started, and why it was widely -- and falsely -- believed.

                                        The idea that argon forms a layer was the result of a chemical miscalculation. The error comes from comparing the mass of a single atom of argon to a single atom of oxygen or nitrogen, and finding the argon heavier. But argon is monatomic (a single atom can be stable), whereas oxygen and nitrogen are both diatomic (two atoms are necessary for it to be stable). So argon has to be compared to O2 and N2, which means the molecular mass of those last two elements is doubled. When that's done, the mass of all three elements is quite similar. As kaleokahu says, if argon were indeed heavier and formed a layer, we would be breathing it here on Earth.

                                        Moreover, gases diffuse easily and blend with one another, as Cary was saying above. Argon is still the gas to use, if you're using a gas, because it both diffuses and displaces oxygen. Argon won't form a layer when it is sprayed into the wine bottle, but it reduces the percentage of O2 in the ullage, to forestall oxidation and wine aging that way. The forceful stream of argon also displaces the air in the ullage, forcing it out the opening. Finally, the argon prevents enzymatic action that would cause the wine to age and oxidize.

                                        The industrial (chic) canister of argon from the air supply houses is my favorite way of preserving wine. There's a larger intial cost outlay, but then you're good for years and years. But transferring the leftover wine to smaller bottles works extremely well. Or freezing (truly -- no joke). If you want to use a gas preservation spray can for your wine, make sure it's 100% argon. A 3 to 5 second spray equals about 180 cc (various tests by manufacturers), not enough to reduce the percentage of oxygen in the ullage to zero, or enough to completely displace the air in the ullage, but enough to preserve the wine for 5 days. With a more expensive wine, say a beautiful Burgundy, or to store the wine for a longer period, you may want to spray longer (about 7-10 seconds) to completely displace the air in the ullage. Hope this helps. It's been fun learning.

                                          1. re: maria lorraine

                                            Brava!

                                            Thanks for nosing out this info and for taking the time to present it so clearly. This explains why my results with Private Preserve are superior when, instead of leaving the wine in the original bottle, I transfer it to a smaller bottle filled to the neck.

                                            1. re: maria lorraine

                                              Maria:

                                              How many cubic inches or ccs are there in a PR ampoule? I can't imagine there are too many 5-second sprays, and when folks scrimp, they're gonna use less, reducing the efficacy. Aren't buying these things sort of like buying the kids' lunchbox-sized potato chips?

                                              1. re: kaleokahu

                                                Don't know exactly, and I'd have to dive into my notes again to check. What I recall is that PR is good for about 20 sprays, the standard spray is 3 to 5 seconds and about 180 cc. As you might guess, if you know the prices of these things, it's the spray canister that costs money in manufacturing the product, not the price of the gas. In any case, PR is inferior to 100% argon in several ways. Lots of marketing hype out there leading the consumer astray.

                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                  I assumed PR was a mistyped PP for Private Preserve. But PP doesn't come in ampules, holds more than 20 sprays and is slightly more capacious than 180 cc. Am I missing something?

                                                  1. re: carswell

                                                    I read Kaleokahu's comment about "PR and similar gas systems based on TINY little ampoules," and thought he meant Private Reserve, but that's a mistake I often make, using Reserve instead of Preserve for the name of the product. ReServe is one such ampule-based system, and a good one (100% argon product). The inner canister of PP (very careful about my abbreviations now!) may indeed be a small ampule of pressurized gas but I do not know this. The Amazon site for PP says 120 uses but we know that that is horribly inaccurate. 20 uses are more like it, from my real-life experience having bought the product many times, and from what similar canister manufacturers (probably more accurately) claim. Amazon says the net weight is .6 oz. and outer dimensions (nothing about what's inside) are listed as 2.5 x 2.5 x 12 inches.

                                                2. re: kaleokahu

                                                  The can's not a perfect cylinder and my measurements don't take wall thickness into account.

                                                  Diameter is about 6.5 cm. Height is about 26 cm but the top is domed and there's a punt in the bottom. Let's say 24 cm.

                                                  V = πr²h = 3.14 x 3.25² x 24 = 3.14 x 10.56 x 24 = 795.80 cc

                                                  Of course the gas is under pressure. I would guesstimate 50 to 75 five-second sprays, or between C$0.20 to $0.25 cents a use. Have no trouble believing that Private Preserve isn't the best or most cost-effective inert gas system. For people like me, however, who can't easily source or lug around argon cylinders, who don't have a lot of storage space and who can buy a can at the neighbourhood wine and liquor store, it's the best solution.

                                                  1. re: carswell

                                                    Carswell, are there spray canisters of 100% argon gas where you are in Canada?

                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                      Oh, sure. Years ago I was even given one by a local wine critic who had received it for review purposes. It was about ten times the size of the PP can, was very heavy and was cumbersome to use. At the time, the only way I found to get it refilled was to schlep out to some suburban industrial park, not an appealing option for carless me. Will have to ask some locals in the wine business and at wine accessory shops and wine bars, but I expect the situation isn't much changed.

                                                      1. re: carswell

                                                        Carswell,

                                                        Check my profile. This an educational reference only, as anything else would be improper here. This unit is about 14" tall by 3.5" or so, and weighs about 2 lbs.. Shipping these things involves Hazmat handlingb at extra cost, but it's still a very good value. The cylinder is filled to1800psi and really does contain around 700 5-second sprays. International shipping is spotty, based on legalities by country.

                                                  2. re: kaleokahu

                                                    <<Aren't buying these things sort of like buying the kids' lunchbox-sized potato chips?>>

                                                    Yes. Good analogy.