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.
Vacu Vin Wine Saver
How it works
A vacuum pump extracts air from the opened bottle once this has been resealed with the appropriate, reusable stopper. The manufacturer claims it keeps the wine fresh for up to two weeks.
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.
Short-term preservation up to four days.
All wines kept very well up until the fourth day when the bottles were left untouched after the first reseal.
However, beyond the fourth day, most showed some development, meaning the system would probably be suitable for home use, but unfit for service in a professional environment.
Overall, Vacu Vin deserves a thumbs-up. Its price makes it accessible to any venue and it’s also very easy to use, so it requires little effort in staff training. It can be employed for low-turnover by-the glass wines as well as to store unfinished bottles in the case of returning guests (for instance, in hotel restaurants with the guest staying overnight).
It fits most necks, including those of screwcap bottles, it’s very low maintenance and your venue won’t incur any extra expense unless worn-out stoppers need replacing. Furthermore, with the right amount of stoppers, the same device can be used on multiple bottles.