Why Vacuum Stoppers Don’t Work and 3 Better Alternatives to Save Wine
If you buy a good, quality wine, you want it to last. There are many products on the market advertised to preserve wine including the vacuum stopper. But do vacuum stoppers really work? And if not, what will work?
This article will tell you all you need to know.
What Are Vacuum Stoppers?
If wine is exposed to air for too long, it will oxidize to the point that the wine essentially turns into acetic acid (vinegar). Vacuum stoppers work by pumping air out of the wine bottle in an attempt to slow the oxidation process. The stopper has a special valve that lets air out but (hopefully) not back in and is used instead of the cork to seal the bottle after it’s been opened. The hope is that the wine will then withstands the test of time.
Do Vacuum Stoppers Really Work?
There has been a lot of controversy surrounding wine stoppers and their effectiveness. The consensus shows that while they may remove some of the oxygen from the wine bottle, they don’t remove all of it. There's plenty of oxygen left over after pumping to spoil the wine. The reality is that a hand pump is not strong enough to create a real vacuum.
Vacuum stoppers also form an imperfect seal and are likely to leak wine or air. While cleaning the stopper of dirt and debris may stop the leaking, this isn’t always the case. If the cleaning doesn’t stop the leaking, it may simply be defective.
In most cases, the issue won’t even be worth pursuing. You are better off opting for a more effective method.
What Are Alternative Methods for Saving Wine?
So if wine stoppers don’t work, what are the most effective methods for saving wine? Here are some to consider.
Inert Gas Wine Preserver
One type of inert gas wine preserver is a spray that contains Argon and other gases, which creates a safe blanket over the wine to protect it from oxygen. To use it, spray the can into the open bottle for two seconds, insert the stopper, and refrigerate. Re-spray every time you open the bottle.
Spray gas wine preservers are effective when used perfectly, but they do tend to be finicky. The gas is invisible and it's hard to tell when sufficient amounts have been used. You won't truly find out if it worked until you drink the wine the next day.
Another type of inert gas preserver is the injection type. These fancy contraptions use a long needle connected with argon cartridges. The needle sucks wine out of the bottle into a glass, all while replacing the lost volume with argon. These devices are quite expensive with upfront costs as much as $200-$300, and that's before the disposable argon cartridges required. But they could be a smart investment when you consider all the wine you will be saving.
There are also more cost-effective options that are easier to use than spray bottles, and less expensive than argon injection.
Store Your Wine Correctly
There are various things you can use to seal your bottle including the original cork, a screw cap, or another kind of stopper. Once sealed, the proper storage methods will ensure it lasts as long as possible. Here are some practices that will ensure your wine endures the test of time.
- Store Your Wine in the Fridge: Storing your wine in the fridge will keep the carbon dioxide intact. It will also prevent the bottle from unexpectedly popping open. If you are chilling your wine, it’s best to remove it from the fridge and allow 30 minutes before opening the bottle. This will allow it to warm up slightly, so it tastes its best.
- Keep the Wine Away from Light and Heat: If your wine is exposed to fluorescent light or sunlight, it will age faster. It’s also best to store your wine in temperatures under 70 degrees. The refrigerator is cool and dark making it the best place to store your wine.
- Store Your Bottle Upright: It’s best to store your wine bottle upright and not on its side. This will limit the surface area exposed to oxygen keeping it in the best shape possible.
- Avoid Humidity: Wine is best kept at a humidity of 50-70%. If you are storing your wine in your fridge at 55 degrees, it will offer 70% humidity which is ideal. However, if your fridge is colder than 55 degrees, it will create less moisture. This will cause your cork to shrink, and the seal of the wine will break.
The Encork Wine Saver Cork
While vacuum plugs aren’t 100% effective, there is one kind of bottle plug that will preserve your wine, and that’s the Encork wine-saver stopper!
This special cork works by absorbing oxygen from the headspace in the bottle once it’s put in place. It is made from food-safe compounds and can keep the wine fresh for months.
The Encork is easy to use. After you are done drinking, simply remove the cap to activate it and press it firmly into the bottle. It will start working right away.
Anytime you want to enjoy your wine, take the Encork off and put it back in place after you are done. It will continue to preserve the wine as long as you use it.
Wine will go bad if it’s exposed to air for extended periods of time. A vacuum stopper may keep some air out, but it’s not as effective as advertised. Therefore, it's best to store it correctly and plug it with an Encork wine saver.
What do you do to keep your wine fresh?