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A Wine Preservation Test
One of the most frequently asked questions from our customers is "What can I do to keep unfinished wine fresh overnight?" I have always thought the VacuVin pump worked, while many of our customers swear by the Private Preserve nitrogen spray. Well, Linda and I decided to do a little Consumer Report of our own...
A 48 Hour Wine Preservation Test
We decided to evaluate the "VacuVin Vacuum Wine Saver" pump system, the Private Preserve nitrogen spray system and the good old "stick the cork in the bottle and put the wine in the 'fridge" system. For a test subject, we choose the Columbia Crest Grand Estate Merlot based upon its remarkable consistency. We started with 3 bottles for the initial test on the first night, and then opened a new control bottle for comparison on the night of the "preservation taste off."
We opened the first 3 bottles on Wednesday night and used a glass and a half from each bottle, leaving equal amounts in each bottle at about a 2/3rd level. We then pumped one out, used the gas on a second and stuck a cork in the third. The corked bottle was placed in the refrigerator and the two preserved bottles were left on the counter at room temperature. Friday night, 48 hours later, we brought the refrigerated bottle back to room temperature, and opened all four bottles including the "control bottle"
Control Bottle The fresh bottle exhibited all the same characteristics we observed in our original three test bottles on Wednesday night. We tasted from the control bottle before tasting each of the preserved wines.
The Recorked and Refrigerated Bottle (Free, and you get what you pay for)
Nose: No amount of swirling or coaxing could resurrect any hint of cedar or fruit from the nose of this wine. Only faint suggestion of cedar remained if you were willing to swirl long enough, it was otherwise completely flat.
Palate: All evidence of tannic structure had disappeared from the wine and only a suggestion of the rich, dark fruit remained on the palate. We found it to be completely characterless and actually wound up pouring the remainder down the sink.
Conclusion: In our judgment this wine was DOA - dead, flat and tasteless. We gave it a "Percent of Preservation" score of 20% to 25%. Down the drain!!
The Private Preserve Nitrogen Preserved Bottle ($13.95, enough for 120 bottles)
Nose: Our first impression was that the nose was almost as dead as the refrigerated bottle. Then, after moment of swirling it came back to life. Not as vibrant as the fresh bottle, but with plenty of solid cigar box and dark fruit Merlot character.
Palate: The tannins had softened substantially and the fruit was certainly not as pronounced as the original but overall the wine was still eminently drinkable.
Conclusion: While this wine had certainly lost some of its edge, it was still very enjoyable. We gave it a "Percent of Preservation" score of 65 to 70 percent.
The VacuVin Pump Preserved Bottle ($12.95 with one reusable cork)
Nose: The most frequent criticism of the VacuVin I hear is that pumping the oxygen out damages the aroma of the wine. Our experience was exactly the opposite. The nose on the pumped wine was almost indiscernible from the nose on the fresh bottle. It was fresh, full of fruit and cedar and very much alive.
Palate: The tannins on this bottle were still firm by comparison to the gassed bottle, but showed some deterioration against the fresh wine. The preservation of the fruit was at about the same level as the gassed bottle, leaving plenty of good dark fruit character to enjoy.
Conclusion: The well-preserved nose and preservation of the tannins added a lot to this wines enjoyment. We gave it a "Percent of Preservation" score of 75 to 80 percent.
Final Conclusion: Considering the on-going cost of the Nitrogen system, the VacuVin system seemed to clearly be not only the best preservation system, but the best value. As for the "cork and refrigerate" system - either drink it all or just pour it out - life is too short for bad wine!
August 14, 2013