Do you have a special bottle of wine that you want to enjoy by the glass? Do you live by yourself and rarely finish an entire bottle? Do you have guests over for dinner and want to serve different wines for pairing options? Wouldn’t it be great if we could do all of these things without having to worry about opened wine oxidizing or sparkling wine losing its fizz? The answer to your problem? Wine and sparkling wine preserving systems and methods.
What happens to opened wine and sparkling wine?
Here is what happens to an opened bottle of wine:
As soon as you uncork a bottle, oxygen begins to interact with the wine and change its composition over time. At first, this is actually a good thing as oxygen encourages wine to open up and release its aromas (this can be encouraged by swirling the wine in the glass, decanting or aerating). If, however, wine is exposed to oxygen for an extended period of time, it will start to degrade and slowly turn into vinegar. In short, it will lose its flavor, taste and color.
As far as sparkling wine goes, there is an additional problem to the oxidation process. Once the bottle has been opened, it loses carbonates – the development that causes sparkling wine to go flat.
These processes are why it is important to preserve wine well, in order to enjoy an opened bottle of wine and sparkling wine again and again. Read on to find out what the different ways to preserve an opened bottle of wine and sparkling wine are, how they work, and which ones we recommend.
Methods of preserving wine
In general, there are three approaches to preserving wine:
1. Replacing the air in the opened bottle by using an inflatable corking system.
2. Extracting the air in the opened bottle by creating a vacuum.
3. Protecting the wine surface with a layer of gas.
There is some debate about whether refrigerating wine is an effective method of preservation. Some experts say that the cold temperature slows down the oxidation process, while others say the opposite, that oxygen dissolves more easily in cooler liquids.
While there is no definite answer, if you do decide to store your opened wine in the fridge, make sure you keep it upright instead of lying it down: this will ensure less of the wine’s surface area will come into contact with air.
b) Inflatable cork systems
Inflatable cork systems such as the Air Cork are designed to seal air tightly within the bottle. You begin by lowering the deflated balloon into the bottle until it reaches the wine and then squeeze the bulb pump to inflate the balloon. Once the balloon forms a seal against the sides of the bottle, you can stop pumping. It is crucial to get the height right so there is minimal air trapped between the balloon and the surface.
At best, this system will help to keep wine fresh for an extra three days. However, critics that have tested the Air Cork reported their wine had a very distinct chemical taste to it after just two days of keeping it sealed. Many experts fear that the rubber balloon has negative effects on the taste of the wine and would therefore not recommend it.
c) Vacuum pump systems
Vacuum pumps work by extracting air from the bottle and resealing them with a stopper. Vacu Vin is a widely available option. The advantage of this gadget is that a “click” sound tells you when you have reached the optimum vacuum level.
Vacuum pumps are widely used because they are inexpensive and people believe they are a simple and effective way to preserve an opened bottle of wine. Unfortunately, tests have shown that such a device can only create a vacuum that is about 70% complete. This leaves plenty of air in the bottle, plus there is a risk that over time the seal will leak. Using a vacuum pump might keep wine fresh for up to three days, working best if combined with refrigeration.
d) Gas Wine Preservers
Systems that use the inert gas argon, or other gas mixtures to preserve wine, work by replacing the oxygen in the bottle with gas and/or by creating a protective layer on the wine surface.
The two main advantages of argon are that it is non-reactive and heavier than air. By covering the wine with a layer of 100% argon, it is protected from coming in contact with air and thus doesn’t oxidize.
There are several wine-preserving systems that use argon or a mixture of gases that contain argon, such as Private Preserve, Coravin, and zzysh®.
Methods of preserving sparkling wine
1. Closing systems.
2. Cooling tricks.
3. Creating overpressure and protection from oxidation
First of all, opened sparkling wine must be refrigerated as this helps to preserve fizz. Cold is a great preserver of carbon dioxide, especially in liquids. Even short exposure to warm air can make sparkling wine to lose its bubbles quickly. This is the case for example, when we leave our open bottle of sparkling wine out for easy access.
It is therefore important, that opened sparkling wine is stored in the cold at all times. This can help to extend its fizziness for hours, sometimes even days, at a time.
The following preservation methods come in addition to cooling sparkling wine:
b) Champagne stoppers
This is a pretty straight forward method, however, it is important that the stopper is specifically designed for sparkling wine as a regular wine stopper will be forced out of the bottle by the bubbles. This method will help to extend the life-span of your wine by one to two days and you can find several different types of stoppers for around $10.
Some stoppers come in combination with a pump to inject air into the bottle to pressurize it. This might be a good alternative to creating a vacuum, although the oxygen won’t do your bubbly any favors over time!
One trick for keeping sparkling wine fresh that has been around for age is using a spoon. The idea is that by putting a teaspoon handle side down into the neck of a bottle, your bubbly will stay fizzy for at least an extra day.
Myth? Probably. Opinions on this one are split but research conducted by Stanford University’s chemist, Richard Zare, found that it doesn’t work. There was no significant difference between leaving the sparkling wine uncorked or with a silver spoon in the neck.
d) zzysh® Champagne
zzysh® Champagne is a preservation system that doesn’t only work on champagne but all sparkling wines. The unique technology of zzysh® Champagne pressurizes the air in the sparkling wine bottle with a mixture of argon and carbon dioxide. In combination with the stopper, this works to protect it from oxidation, ensuring flavor, taste, fizz and color are all retained.
The application is exactly the same as with the zzysh® Wine. After the bottle has been opened, tightly close the bottle with the innovative zzysh® stopper. Attach the hand piece. Press it down for 3-4 seconds, allowing the protective atmosphere to flow into the bottle to preserve the taste. When removing the hand piece, hold on to the stopper to make sure it stays in place.
Unlike the other sparkling-wine preserving methods such as using a spoon or refrigerating it, zzysh® Champagne actually works well and preserves a bottles natural taste and fizz for weeks after it has been opened. Several tests have shown that zzysh® Champagne works to keep champagne fresh. For example, a recent test done by a sommelier and wine judge compared an unopened bottle of champagne to one that was preserved with zzysh® for 21 days. After being blindfolded and tasting the different champagnes, the experts could not tell a difference!