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 Antiox is simply a stopper with an active carbon filter inside that interrupts oxygen interacting with the wine.
The manufacturer claims that it keeps the wine fresh for up to 10 days, with the system lasting for approximately 1,000 uses.
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 to fifth day if the bottle was left untouched once resealed the first time. After the fourth day, the results were mixed. Some wines showed marked development at around the seventh day, while others appeared fit for home consumption well beyond the 10-day threshold indicated by the manufacturer. Different sulphur levels might explain the wines’ behaviour.
Antiox’s main positive is that it’s brainlessly easy to use. On the other hand, you will need a single AntiOx for each bottle, which makes it relatively expensive compared to other short-term
systems such as Vacu Vin’s Wine Saver and Private Preserve (below). Furthermore, it’s basically impossible to tell when AntiOx needs replacing: with the manufacturer suggesting up to 1,000 uses, are you really going to keep track of it during service?
RRP £15.95, Birchgrove Products