01. 11. 2007
ReServe wine preservation system
Last month, Wine Innovations sent me a sample unit of their ReServe wine preservation system. For those who donít know, I spend my weekends as a bartender and spirit sommelier in an upscale Speakeasy in St Louis. I probably open a hundred bottles in a given weekend, and I can identify a bad one from a mile away.
Wine preservation is one of those Holy Grail items in the restaurant business, and everyone has their own voodoo methods. It seems that every bar on the planet owns one of those Vacu Vin hand pumps, but they're just a stopgap measure. A hand vacuum is only going to help a bottle limp from one night to the next lunch; anything longer than that and youíre out of luck.
Thatís where Wine Innovations comes in with the ReServe. A compressed canister of argon gas is fitted to a valved stopper, and the inert gas forces out the damaging oxygen. By replacing the oxygen in the bottle the oxidation of the wine is slowed, and it lasts much longer before beginning the quick slide to vinegar.
Come below the fold for my tests and results!
There are a couple of steps to the method:
1. Cork the bottle with the gas adapter,
2. Lightly tighten the retaining ring to create a seal,
3. Connect the regulator with the socket on the bottle top,
4. Open the regulator knob fully to dispense gas and then close it again.
I was initially afraid of putting too much or too little argon into the bottle. You canít blow up the bottle, so donít worry.
The timing is such that opening the regulator fully, and then closing it again, is pretty close to the ideal amount of argon needed. The design was well thought out, and after the first time itís intuitive. To make sure that the bottle is full of the maximum amount of argon just engage the regulator until the pressure release valve kicks in.
Donít worry about wasting the gas - the replacement charges are pretty cheap. An argon canister will seal approximately 20 bottles, and replacement cost is $15 for a pack of three. That comes out to twenty-five cents a seal, so saving one nice bottle a year will pay for the gas cartridges.
On a Monday I opened two bottles of a fragile Cabernet, drank a couple of glasses, and then sealed one with the ReServe. My control bottle was recorked without preservation, and after day 3 was undrinkable. My argon treated bottle from the ReServe didnít make it a full week, but the oxidation was much slower and the changes were more gradual.
I have a theory that my bottle didnít last quite as long as it could have because I was reopening it once a day to check the results. This oxygen shock would have been like a hurricane hitting the wine inside the resealed bottle. Depending on the varietal I wouldnít be surprised to get a week, and maybe two, out of an undisturbed bottle of wine.
The long and short is ďDoes it work?Ē The answer is yes. I was able to open a bottle, let it sit for a few days and come back to enjoy it later. Thatís enough time to let me open a bottle with dinner, drink half, and enjoy the other two glasses at my leisure.
The ReServe is available from Williams-Sonoma for about $150, and it works great, but more importantly it gives me an excuse to open my fancy red wines.