Preserving a Bottle of Opened Wine
Explore different ways to preserve a opened bottle of wine. Choose a preservation method that suits your needs.
What happens to an Opened Bottle of Wine?
When not preserved properly, oxidation (exposure to oxygen) will flatten an opened bottle of wine, making it lose its aromas and flavor rapidly. Notes of sherry is the first sign that the wine is oxidized. The longer the exposure, the more the vinegar taste.
Preservation Methods: Comparison and Review
Luckily for wine lovers, there are many wine preservation systems and tools, enabling them to keep opened bottle fresh for a longer duration. These wine preservers range 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.
We rate each wine preservation method / gadget on three dimensions: i) effectiveness to preserve an open bottle [number of days]; ii) cost factoring in gas cartridge refills; and iii) convenience and ease of use.
The below figure compares and summarizes. Scroll down to the end of the page for a detailed description and review on each preservation method as well as leading brands.
*BetterTastingWine overall rating is scored out of 5 points, with 5 being the top score.
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?
And do remember the option of customizing your own preservation method. For example, pouring an unfinished wine into a smaller bottle before applying vacuum pump or argon gas.
Go to Lesson 6: Wine Temperature
The Traditional Method to Preserving An Open BottleDecades 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.
After 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. Compared to Coravin, gentle on mature wine as design allows bottle to stand upright when wine is being squeezed out. Convenient storage as the set comes with watertight corks, allowing the long serving sprout to be removed.
Con: Pricey compared to traditional preservation system, though can offer longer shelf-life. Wikeeps retails at US$ 199. Constant cartridge refill requires. Various types of cartridge options to serve budget and needs. 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 remaining wine in the bottle is never exposed to oxygen. Can keep wine for months. Customer service is accountable and responsive.
Con: Pricey, the coravin costs US$ 299. Gas refill cost US$10, more expensive than WiKeeps. Coravin requires tilting the bottle when pouring, thus not as gentle on mature / fragile wine. Counter space is required as parts cannot be dismantled for easy storage.
Note: Coravin does not work on synthetic cork nor screw caps... though most fine wines rarely come in synthetic corks or screw caps... so we didn't find this to be much of a problem.
Eurocave SoWine Machine
Put an open bottle into the Eurocave machine. Press the top lever download to draw the oxygen out of the bottle. Select the type of wine (red or white) and the SoWine machine will preserve the bottle at the optimal temperature.
Pro: Wines can be preserved without contact with oxygen and at the right temperature. The machine can be used to prepare mature wines for consumption as well. Store mature wines in this machine (uncorked) a day prior to consumption to allow sediments to settle.
Con: Pricey at US$ 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.
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