Wine preservation methods for an open bottle

The Wine Experience, Wine — By Veronica on December 30, 2010 at 4:21 pm

At our home,  weekday wine drinking habits are erratic, meaning we often open a bottle that may be left around for up to 4 days.  On  ‘pour and store’ occasions, I keep some important tools on hand to prevent the bottle from spoiling and wasting not only the wine, but my money as well.

The key is to stop (or at least slow down) the oxidation process and keep that bottle of wine fresh enough for the next pour.  Below are my picks, organized according to how long each method is likely to preserve a bottle of wine:

For 3-7 days

Airgas HP 20 Small Argon Cyllinder.  This may be excessive for most wine drinkers, but it is the cheapest way to get 100% argon gas — the best choice for wine preservation.  The HP 20 is 14” tall, 5″ in diameter — small enough to fit onto a pantry shelf or underneath a wet bar.  With just a few quick blasts, the gases force any oxygen out of the bottle or at least off the surface of the wine, thus slowing the aging process.  The size HP 20 costs $84 for the canister and $44 to fill it, and this size cylinder will preserve hundreds of bottles of wine, far more than the same amount of $$ put into cans of Private Preserve.

Skybar Wine Systems — Recommended with reservations:  it’s a lovely idea,  but a $1,000 idea. Here you get a reasonably attractive countertop unit with three ‘stalls’ to store wine under heavy gas, and at the right temperature.   I’ll recommend without reservation it when it comes down to $300 — I’m betting within two years.

For 1-4 Days:

Private Preserve Wine Preserver – This is a more practical choice, because the cost is $10 for a 12″ can about 2.5″ wide.  It’s a mix of carbon dioxide, nitrogen and argon, which keeps a bottle for an extra day or three, depending on the wine.

Wine Preserva — Fairly new to the scene, it’s a plastic (bubble wrap) disk system that when inserted into an opened bottle of wine, acts as a ‘lid’ on the surface of the wine.  Wine Preserva says it keeps the wine “at restaurant quality” for up to 5 days.  I’ve tested it for three days, and it’s quite good.  Not 100% argon good, however.  Plus it can be recycled with the bottle…green is good…

For 1-2 days, cross your fingers

VacuVin — It’s better than nothing, but not my favorite.  This very popular wine saver extracts the air from an open bottle with a vacuum-like device re-seals it with a re-usable rubber stopper. Although the removal of air slows down the oxidation process, it’s still sub-optimal.  Once the oxidation process begins, it doesn’t stop.


Tags: serving wine, day, reviews, wine tools, Wine, wet bar, The Wine Experience
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10 Comments

  1. Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

  2. Ken Rosen says:

    You might be interested in one other device I’ve gotten (and given): Preservino (http://www.preservino.com). It’s sort of like a reverse VacuVin–about the same physical design, but instead of removing air, it adds pure Argon from small cartridges. Comes in a nice gift box too (which is inside a giant removable not-so-nice box. Ken

  3. KF Louis says:

    Ken – great addition to this list. I had not known about Preservino when I originally wrote this post.

  4. There’s always something intersting to learn when reading your posts. All the best and I look forward to next time!

  5. KF Louis says:

    Thanks. Coming in late October, I’m going to do a series based on some consumer research that I’m involved in regarding taste sensitivity. Some surprising info coming your way!

  6. If you take oxidative vinificated white wines like the Mosel Riesling from Stuelb, you can store it open in your fridge for more than 10 days only with a bottle cork.
    My favorites are the Rulaender, a perfect grey burgundy from the austrian winery Andert (demeter quality), or the white cuvée called ERDE (Earth) which was vinificated in 600 liter amphores for 12 month. I store an open bottle since more than 4 weeks in my fridge.

  7. KF Louis says:

    Christopher – I love Mosel wines for that very reason — amazing shelf life. For someone like me who may not finish a bottle for many days (and I’d like weeks!), the German and Alsatian whites will always be a part of my wine rotation.

  8. Sean says:

    I love this post… I’ve been thinking about doing a post on this as well, but I haven’t had much experience with the gas methods. I find the Vacuvin, and refrigeration works well for 1-3 days, but then you have to wait for the reds to warm up. Another trick you can try is to pour the wine into a smaller bottle so that no air is left at the top and pop a cork in there… I suppose by doing this, you are exposing the wine to air, but only for a brief amount of time. What are your thoughts?

  9. KF Louis says:

    Sean — Agreed. Pouring wine into a smaller bottle, and refrigerating it are the extreme measures I take when I know I want to preserve something for 5+ days. I’ve also been advised that getting commercial grade 100% argon is the best gas to use.

  10. KF Louis says:

    Sean – thanks. And it already needs an update! There are a few more interesting methods and gadgets out there to review, which I am doing now. Stay tuned…

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