The moment you open the bottle, the wine begins to change. Air mingles at its surface and it begins to evaporate, releasing the aromas that enhance its taste. Oxygen also the tempers tannins in red wines, smoothing them out to make them more pleasurable to drink. This is why reds are always decanted or aerated. Although this interaction with oxygen is important, it’s only helpful up to a point. Wines only last 3-5 days before the exposure to oxygen begins spoiling their flavors. They will darken, lose their freshness, and the alcohol will turn to acetic acid to leave a vinegary taste. Just putting a stopper on the bottle isn’t enough to halt this process because there will still be oxygen in the bottle. If you want to save the rest of the bottle after only one glass, you’ll need a wine preservation system.
There are a few styles of wine preservation systems, all of them designed to protect the wine from oxygen. Vacuum systems pump oxygen from the bottle and then stopper it until you’re ready to drink it again. There are also gas-based systems, usually sprays that introduce argon into the bottle. Argon is heavier than oxygen, so it rests on the surface of the wine to protect it. Cartridge systems are usually combined with stoppers to introduce an oxygen-absorber into the top of the bottle. There are also high tech systems, some that combine multiple strategies to help preserve your wine. Here are seven of our favorite wine preservation systems.
1. Vacu Vin Wine Saver: $12
Vacu Vin is a vacuum wine saver system and one of the most economical choices for preserving wine short term. It comes with a simple pump for removing air from the bottle before storage. Simply insert one of the stoppers, attach the pump and plunge to create the vacuum. It makes a clicking sound when it’s reached the right pressure. The vacuum holds the stopper tightly in place, so you can safely store bottles horizontally after opening. We love the price point and the ease of use of the Vacu Vin system. It keeps opened wine fresh for about a week.
2. Private Preserve True 1026: $8
This spray bottle from Private Preserve contains a mixture of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and argon. Just spray inside the wine bottle according to the instructions and recork. Argon is heavy, so it sinks and lays on the surface of the wine to protect it from oxygen. When it’s time to enjoy another glass, simply pour and aerate the wine as usual. The gases are all nonreactive, food safe, and do not alter the nose or flavor of the wine. One container is enough to preserve about 120 bottles of wine making this an easy and inexpensive way to preserve wine. It’s useful for other spirits, as well, including whiskey, port, and sherry.
3. Savino Wine Saving Carafe: $50
The Savino is a carafe style wine saver that works by floating a physical seal at the surface of the wine to protect it from oxygen. The float shifts as you pour, so you don’t need to remove it when serving wine from the carafe. When you set the carafe upright again, the float will automatically adjust to reseal the wine. If you want a no-frills system that doesn’t involve gases, vacuums, or special cartridges, this would be an excellent wine preservation system for you. It only helps keep wine for a few extra days, but it’s perfect if you want a low effort system that looks nice, as well.
4. Sello 2 Wine Preservation System: $50
Sello is a cartridge-based preservation system. The unit fits inside the top of the wine bottle, introducing a handy no-drip pour spout and a stopper. Once it’s fitted, store the wine upright in the refrigerator and the oxygen-absorbing cartridge will remove oxygen from the inside of the bottle. Unlike the vacuum and spray systems, there’s no reapplication between pours. Just stopper the wine again and the cartridge will do the rest. This system is compatible with all bottle types and keeps wine fresh for about a week.
5. ZOS HALO Wine Preserver: $60
The ZOS HALO is another stopper system that contains an oxygen-scrubbing cartridge. It’s pricier than the Sello system, but it also takes the technology to the next level. The cartridges have sensors that take the guesswork out of cartridge replacement. They’re self-testing and will flash a green light if the cartridge is still good or a red light if it needs replacing. Each lasts for use in up to 15 bottles and it is so effective that it keeps wine fresh for up to two months. We also love the look of this system, which is a bit more elegant than most stopper and cartridge preservation solutions. It’s well worth the investment.
6. Coravin Model Two Plus Wine Preservation System: $350
If you invest in expensive wines that you only drink by the glass, you should look into a more elaborate preservation system like this Coravin set. It’s expensive, but it combines multiple technologies so that it can keep an opened wine drinkable for years. It uses a needle to penetrate the cork and facilitate pouring without fully uncorking the wine. You press the trigger to clear oxygen from the needle, then push it all the way through the cork. Next, you tilt the bottle and use the trigger to release the wine into your glass. Once you’re done, engage the capsule to introduce argon gas and pull the needle out. Note that this only works with natural corks, because they will reseal. With this clever set of strategies, oxygen never enters the bottle. It’s like you never even opened it.
7. EuroCave Wine Art Preservation System: $400
If you’d like a wine preservation system that also keeps your wine ready at serving temperature, you’ll love the EuroCave Wine Art system. When you insert the opened bottle, it pumps the air out and seals it. It comes with two chambers preset at 60F for red wines and 46F for white wines and rosés. It handles 750ml bottles (no larger), and keeps the wine fresh and ready to drink for ten days. It has a small footprint, as well, making it a perfect countertop appliance for keeping your wines nearby and ready for enjoyment.