Well, we’ve all seen those “vacuum wine preserver” products and thought “hmmm, will this really work or do I have to continue polishing off every bottle I open?” (because naturally you don’t want to throw away the rest of that bottle). Its sometimes worth it to try to save the bottle for a while but more than a few hours of exposure to oxygen will cause the wine to oxidize beyond just “opening up”. Oxidation is good to get a bottle going, especially an older bottle that needs some oxidation to bring out the flavor, but too much oxidation starts to choke the flavors and really kills the taste of wine (no matter how much you jam the cork back in).
The technical explanation of what happens is explained by PEK, maker of wine preservation systems (note: not the maker of the Vacu Vin):
Wine oxidizes when exposed to air, causing a distinctive sherry-like off-odor and brownish tint that is increasingly recognizable with wine consumption experience. When wine tannins are oxidized, hydrogen peroxide is produced which subsequently oxidizes ethanol into acetaldehyde – the principal compound producing the oxidized odor and masking the wine’s fragrance. On opening a bottle, acetaldehyde generation can be detected within as little as two to eight hours, depending on varietal, age, amount of wine contact with air, temperature, etc. White wines and older reds are particularly susceptible to oxidation damage.
OK, so thats bad and anyone who has opened a wine, corked it, then tried it a day or more later will agree that its almost never as good. So we decided to try the Vacu Vin® Concerto™ Wine Saver. Here is the company’s description:
Preserve your wine for up to two weeks after it’s opened. The Concerto™ emits a clicking noise to let you know when its vacuum seal has been reached. This set, packaged in a clear gift box, includes one pump and two vacuum stoppers. Made in Holland.
Thats quite the claim. But we were willing to sacrifice two good wines, one with and one without a vacuum seal. We used two bottles of 2002 Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon for our trial. We opened them, tasted them the first night – solid wines as usual – then set them aside for a day. Putting the Vacu Vin closure on was quite easy and the “clicking” feature mentioned is convenient so that you don’t have to pump away forever, so we definitely have to make sure we point that out.
On the second night, we opened the bottles again. To our surprise, there is a noticeable difference between the regular cork and the Vacu Vin treated bottle. The third night we opened a third, fresh bottle and while the Vacu Vin bottle was still good, the taste didn’t quite stand up to a fresh bottle. Very drinkable though. Two weeks claimed by the company is pretty questionable, especially with wines which aren’t as tolerant to oxidation damage. But they’re marketing a product so thats to be expected (and tested!).
Bottom line: for around $19 you can save alot more good wine for the next night than ever before so we have to recommend the Vacu Vin Concerto for anyone who Enjoys the Wine Life!