No matter your passion, there will always be a choice between appearance, which will include traditions and best practices, and practicality, where we know that things don’t ever happen the same way as they do in the textbook. The Squirrel Wine Preserver aims to give wine enthusiast the option to do both, by making a very good decanter that will let your while bottle breathe for a while and achieve its decadent aroma, but with a small addition that makes the decanter into a wine preserver.
No wonder that over a thousand backers gave more than one hundred thousand dollars on Kickstarter for this project, as this is the sole decanter on the market today that can also preserve the wine without any electronics and with only one moving part. Anyone with any experience in engineering knows the genius of this idea, as it follows the old engineering rule: the fewer parts you have, the fewer parts can malfunction. The Squirrel also doesn’t use any gas canisters or additives to keep the wine fresh, meaning that there is no risk of chemicals changing the wine for the worse.
Depending on the wine, there is an optimum amount of oxygen you want inside. The right amount of oxygen usually happens just after a few swirls, when the wine starts to release its scents and flavors. In this case, we call the wine oxidative, as to describe the savory and umami sensations we feel both in our nose and on the palate. For these wines we usually use a decanter, that has a wider top that can bring in more air than the bottleneck. After decanting the wine in a wider container, it will get the correct amount of oxygen after only a few minutes, with the acceptable range of aeration lasting for about an hour.
As with almost everything in life, too much of a good thing can be disastrous. For wine, there are three distinct stages of over-oxidization, each worse than the last.
Stage 1 – Dullness
In this stage all of the wine becomes dull and dry, losing both its taste and its smell. This happens because all of the flavors have dissipated in the air and are lost, literally in the wind. Depending on the amount of air available, this stage might last for a long time, but if the wine is left in the open, it will occur in just a couple of hours and would pass to stage two in about a day or so, depending on the wine.
Stage 2 – Acidity
When all of the wine molecules are oxidized, they start to react and to change from Acetaldehyde to the acetic acid. In this stage, the wine is more or less useless as it has an awful taste and no texture to speak of. If this happens, the wine can be considered spoiled, and if you really don’t like wasting you should probably leave it in the open air for a couple of more weeks, as to get to stage three.
Stage 3 – Vinegar
While turning water into wine takes a miracle, turning wine into vinegar just takes time. Once all of the wine is oxidized and has converted into acid, you will be left with a bunch of vinegar that has separated into acids, sugars, and wine residue. While this can no longer be considered wine, contrary to stage two, at least it can go as a condiment to a salad.
Aside from the bottle being opened, there is a possibility for wine to spoil through the cork if it is not sealed correctly, or if it has rotted from moisture. Because of this, it is recommended seal wines that you want to keep for a long time with wax atop of the cork.
Preserving wine is actually quite simple. You only need to protect the wine from all the elements that may cause it to turn bad. In the best of circumstances, you will want your wine to be in a cold, dark place that is devoid of oxygen, mold, and other pollutants.
While the theory is easy, in practice this is hard to achieve, especially once you have already opened the bottle. In the old days, they would just make smaller bottles for days you wish to drink less wine, but with huge wine producers and vineyards usually across the globe, it is hard to find smaller containers without breaking your bank to do so.
Former solutions included exchanging the air in the bottle with some inert gas like Argon, or just trying to vacuum as much air out of the bottle as possible, but both of these solutions are far from a guarantee that everything will go right.
How does the Squirrel Wine Preserver Work?
The Squirrel is one of those solutions that look obvious, and yet this is the first product of its kind. The obviousness of the design is a hallmark of a genius product, as just looking at it you will know how it works, and why.
The two elements of the Wine Squirrel set are the decanter and the plug. The decanter is made from durable, lead-free glass, which is necessary both for the plug to safely push and for the whole thing to be stored wherever you want. The plug is a simple expandable silicone cap that is made from the same material as the silicone corks that are so common these days.
The decanter comfortably holds 750ml, or about 25 oz. of fluid, meaning that you should pour the whole (regular) bottle in and drink as much as you like. Once you are done, you place the plug on the same level as the wine and turn. It will close up and keep the wine tight and safe. This way the wine has zero contact with air and can stay as fresh as you have sealed it for weeks.
The most obvious advantage of the Wine Squirrel is the ease of use. You know what to do right off the bat, and there is an effortless way to check if you have sealed the container correctly: flip it over. If no wine spills, you are good to go.
This also leads to the second most significant advantage, which is the result of it being able to flip and turn as if it was in a bottle; you can store it anywhere. If you have a wine refrigerator, you can place the whole decanter inside, and it will keep the wine chilled and ready for the next time you want to drink it. You can also repeat this process as many times as you wish, drinking only a glass of your favorite wine every few days.
As a decanter, this is a high-quality product that will help with aerating your wine and bringing out all the flavors, slowly but steadily. Most wines will be ready the moment you pour them out, but with some, you might want to wait a couple of minutes. While not the best decanter design, as it is basically a tube, it does a good enough job and looks good as tableware.
As a preserver, this product shines. Easy to use, easy to store, and able to be reused multiple times for the same batch of wine with no changing parts, this is one of the best preservers on the market, and by far the best one in its price range.
Risks to Think About
While the Wine Squirrel is an excellent product all-around, there are some risks to think about when storing your wine, and they are usually the same ones as with unopened bottles.
First of all, there is no such thing as 100% airtight, with both the clear glass and the silicone being porous on the molecular level. With the Squirrel you will be able to store your wine for days, weeks, and maybe even months, but not indefinitely. It will probably never reach the acid levels so that it is undrinkable (never being from the human perspective, not universal), but after some time you will be able to feel the staleness.
Second, you should keep your wine cold and in dark places, as both temperature and light pass very easily through the glass and can spoil the taste of the wine. Radiation is not something often talked about when discussing wine, but if we are to nitpick, this is something to talk about.
Finally, although the decanter is very sturdy, it is still glass. Be careful not to chip the top or to drop the decanter, as it will break in the same way a wine bottle would.
In the end, we can do little but to agree with thousands of people who have already tried the Wine Squirrel Preserver. It is easy to use, easy to store, effective and looks good on the table. If you want to prolong the lifespan of your favorite wine and not waste any, this product is probably the best solution on the market today.