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Preservation Contraptions
by Tina caputo
Magazine Issue: U.S. Vol. 4.2
Ever open a bottle of wine with dinner and find that you just can't finish it all? Me neither, but I hear it happens. Even more tragically, these pour souls end up dumping the leftover wine down the drain a few days later because oxygen has gone and turned their tasty grape juice into salad dressing.

That's why God (the Wine God, that is) invented wine preservers! There are several different devices on the market, from low-tech decanter systems to space-age sprays. But which one to buy? To help you decide, I tested four of the leading wine preservers against the time-honored method of jamming the cork back into the bottle and hoping for the best.

To make sure the contest was fair, I tested the preservers on half-full (or half-empty, for you pessimists) bottles of merlot from the same case. After sampling and preserving the wines, I left them to rot on my kitchen counter for several days before re-tasting.

Following are descriptions of each device, along with a summary of my findings.

Vacu-Vin Wine Saver System

Just stick a rubber stopper in the bottle, place the t-shaped air extractor on top of it, and start pumpin'. In addition to giving you a nice arm workout, this will suck the air out of the bottle and keep oxygen from spoiling your wine.

Pros: Arm muscles.

Cons: If you want to preserve more than two bottles at a time, you'll have to spring for extra stoppers. The pumping thing can also be a bit laborious.

Wine for Later

If you're looking for a more stylish way to preserve your wine, this decanter system from the Wine Enthusiast catalog is for you. Just pour your leftover wine through the glass funnel into a decanter (the set includes both 1/4- and 1/2-bottle sizes) and top with the airtight glass stopper. It even comes with a grape cluster-adorned pin so you can hang the cork around the decanter's neck and prove to your friends you didn't just pour the wine out of a gallon jug hidden under the sink.

Pros: Spiffy decanters and reusable glass funnel.

Cons: The decanters must be completely full in order for the system to work and you can only preserve 3/4 of a bottle at a time. Kinda pricey too.

Private Preserve

Spray your way to fresh and tasty wine with a can o' environmentally friendly gasses. Attach the plastic nozzle, and spray a layer of nitrogen, carbon dioxide and argon into your wine bottle. Then re-cork. This forms a seal to keep oxygen from reaching the wine.

Pros: You can preserve 120 bottles with one can. Also works on port, sherry, scotch, sake, oil and vinegar.

Cons: You have to buy more when the can is empty.

Cork Pops Wine Preserver

Same thing as Private Preserve, with hipper packaging. To use, just insert the pointed tip into the mouth of the wine bottle and press down to release the gas.

Pros: Same benefits as Private Preserve, plus a sleek black can and easier-to-use nozzle.

Cons: Smaller can is good for only 80 uses.

Cork-in-Bottle

Jam the cork back into the bottle and hope the wine is still drinkable a few days later.

Pros: What could be easier? And it's FREE!

Cons: Not so great if you don't like the taste of vinegar.

Findings:

There was no discernible difference in flavor between the wines treated with the preservation contraptions. They managed to maintain their original aromas and flavors -- no deterioration. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for the wine treated with the Cork-in-Bottle method, which took on a vinegary aroma and an unpleasant sharpness.

In plain English: Any of the four preservers will do you right. However, if I could only recommend one, I'd go for the Private Preserve. Why, you ask? Because it lets you save several opened bottles at once, it's cheap, and it's easy to find in any decent wine shop.

Whichever preserver you prefer, it's worth the investment so you can quit dumping perfectly good wine down the drain.

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