It was a steamy mid-July day, and there I was, lugging three opened bottles of wine in an insulated bag as I trekked from one prospective customer to the next. But as a professional wine salesman, I had confidence that the contents were in good shape, because I had sealed the bottles with my Vacu-Vin Wine Saver, whose sole mission is to protect wine from exposure to air, which accelerates oxidation.
Don’t get me wrong. Oxygen in wine isn’t all bad. Starved of it, a wine can go into what is known as reduction, which creates hydrogen sulfide aromas. Without any oxygen, the esters and aromas that we love to sniff would not be released when we open a bottle of wine. What’s more, in a controlled setting, oxidation gives us fabulous Sherry and Tokaji and Madeira wines.
Uncontrolled, however, exposure to air starts the slow process of oxidation, a time bomb that starts ticking the moment a cork is popped or a screw cap is untwisted. It causes the wine to smell increasingly less inviting and taste less fresh while on its way toward becoming undrinkable.
Because there are 25 one-ounce pours in every standard-size, 750 ml bottle of wine, salespeople can cart around opened bottles of wine for days — hence the popularity of the Vacu-Vin Wine Saver. The inexpensive pumping device comes with a rubber stopper that you stick into the bottleneck after you’ve poured some wine. To seal it, you place the gadget over the stopper, create a vacuum by hand-pumping the oxygen out of the bottle.
The next time you go to pour a taste of wine, you release the rubber stopper and hear the reassuring schwoop of a vacuum that’s been unsealed. That’s how you know the Wine Saver is working. Or is it?
Experiments in Wine Preservation + Easy, Cheap Ways to Preserve Wine
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