From Coravin to vacuum pumps, the world of wine preservation is not short of innovations. But do they work? Jacopo Mazzeo reveals the results of his year-long experiment in this seven-part series
In controlled environments, oxygen is wine’s best companion; it allows the liquid to age gracefully inside the bottle and helps release wine’s aromas when decanted. But leave the liquid in contact with the air too long and the oxygen will slowly deteriorate aromas and flavours, as well as affect texture. This means that once opened, a bottle needs to be consumed quickly before it spoils.
Bad news for the on-trade. With people drinking less, but trading up in quality, a good by-the-glass programme can make the difference between a lucrative sale and a jug of tap water. Today, plenty of devices claim they can keep your wine fresh for longer once opened, which would allow a venue to increase its by-the-glass offer.
However, are they all as effective as they claim to be? And most importantly, are they suitable for a restaurant, bar or pub environment? To answer these questions, we put a diverse range of some of the most popular preservation systems for both still and sparkling wine to the test, in a trial that took – no shirking – nearly a year to complete.
How it works
The purpose of the trial was to test the systems’ suitability for use in a professional environment. Consequently, wines were deemed unfit for service once showing any noticeable change, regardless of their suitability for personal use. To make sure the experiment’s results were empirically meaningful, each system was tested on a range of different wines. During the trial, all wines were stored at a cool room temperature. Different samples of the same wine were always tested side-by-side on the same day.
Private Preserve is a gas canister that replaces the oxygen in the bottle with a mixture of carbon dioxide, nitrogen and argon. The manufacturer claims that wines can be preserved for ‘weeks, months or even years’.
Short-term preservation of about four days.
All wines kept very well until the fourth day on average, after which they were still suitable for home consumption, but not for service in a professional environment. Around the 10th day, we noticed that the texture of most of the wines appeared affected by the gas, which was fairly evident when comparing Private Preserve samples with the others. Two wines spoiled after 11 days, while the others were still drinkable after over a month.
The system is quite easy to use and one canister lasted for nearly the entire experiment. A further positive is that one canister can be used to preserve as many wines as needed, making Private Preserve a relatively inexpensive solution. The main downside is that the canister itself is so light that it’s impossible to know when the gas runs out.
RRP £17.95, Birchgrove Products