Waiting for Good Wine to Go Bad

By: Lauren Voigt

The Quick Sip on Oxidation

I’m no scientist, but for the sake of science, I waited for perfectly sound wine to go bad — to put a few preservation methods to the test.

In preliminary research (i.e. Googling) I couldn’t find anything conclusive about whether red or white wine oxidizes faster.   White wine is often made with more added sulfites, so depending on the wine it seems likely a white could stay fresher longer. What do you think?

Either way, this experiment isn’t a debate about which wine spoils faster.  That said, I’ll you it was a Gruner Veltliner around $10 — you didn’t think I was going to let really good wine go bad, did you? I purposely selected an aromatic, crisp wine as I thought I’d more readily detect loss of aroma, freshness.

I look forward to trying this experiment again with a red.  Let me know if there’s a wine you’d like me to wait for to go bad next!

 

The Contenders // Wine Preservation Methods

1) THE CONTROL: Capped and refrigerated.

2) VACU VIN
“The Wine Saver is a vacuum pump, which extracts the air from the opened bottle and re-seals it with a reusable rubber stopper. The vacuum slows down the oxidation process which makes it possible to enjoy your wine again at a later date.”

I purchased this product myself on Amazon for about $20, which included the vacuum, two stoppers and two wine servers.

 

 

3) PRIVATE PRESERVE

“Replaces the air in a bottle with a balanced mixture of three gases* we naturally breathe. Private Preserve differs from fresh air because of what it lacks, oxygen and impurities. Private Preserve is a simple way to slow the natural aging process and keep wines fresher longer. Air flows into a bottle when you pop the cork. Simply reinserting the cork will prevent a continuous flow of oxygen from entering the bottle and thus slow the oxidation of the contents. But the oxygen already inside will be enough to age the contents unless you spray in some Private Preserve.”

– Private Preserve

Available on Amazon for ~$10, estimated to preserve about 120 bottles of wine.
Private Preserve generously provided their product for me to review, at my request.

The Practice

To prevent changes in storage temp or excess exposure to air, all wines were opened only long enough to pour samples and returned immediately to the wine fridge (set to 50), where they were stored upright.  Wines were evaluated blind, without knowing which preservation method were used.

 

Which preservation method will persevere?

Control Vacu Vin Private Preserve
Day 1 Control tasting. Open and evaluate all three bottles to ensure they are of sound and same quality: confirmed. Control tasting. Open and evaluate all three bottles to ensure they are of sound and same quality: confirmed. Control tasting. Open and evaluate all three bottles to ensure they are of sound and same quality: confirmed.
Day 2 Fresh, crisp aroma, but was unable to distinguish any prominent fruit notes. No noticeable difference in taste, and still found it to be sound for drinking. I did not notice any changes from day one. I did not notice any changes from day one.
Day 4 Flabby flavor, dead on the nose. Not good for drinking.

Conclusion:Best the next day or two after opening.
Still fragrant on the nose, but lacking prominent fruit notes. No noticeable difference in taste, still sound for drinking. More aromatic than the other that I suspect is also using a preservation method (Vacu Vin), still sound for drinking.
Day 6 Begrudgingly, this one is still in the mix for evaluation, and would not recommend drinking this any more on day six than four! Flabby and sad.

Conclusion:Best within 4 days after opening.
Still seemingly as aromatic as on day one. On the palette, seems to be losing some of its initial crispness. Still sound for drinking.

Conclusion:Kept this wine the most sound, for the longest period of time.

 

The use of gas in winemaking (i.e. Private Preserve) is common practice and protects from the effects of oxidation.  A simple example of oxidation: take a bite of a fresh apple and let it sit a few hours. Notice how the piece that was bitten turns brown? Now, take a bite from the same section again.  Compare it to a bite from the other side of the apple. Notice any changes in flavor?

Most likely, you’ll notice the piece you bit again exhibits a loss in flavor (and texture!)

In winemaking gas that is heavier than air — and non-interactive with the wine — is often used to displace oxygen from a vessel and protect the wine from the effects of oxidation. Added sulfites can also aid in protecting wine from spoilage.

In the example of Vacu Vin, the preservation method is instead removing the oxygen from the vessel. In some ways, this could also remove volatile esters, or, some of the aromas of the wine.

In that respect, it makes sense that the Private Preserve wine seemed aromatic the longest.

All three preservation methods have their merits.

In the case of the control wine, simply capping or corking and putting in the fridge seems acceptable for a wine you’ll consume the next day. Plus, its free!

The Vacu Vin worked great overall even if not for the longest. On the plus side, its re-usable (theoretically, beyond the Private Preserve’s 120 uses, there aren’t many moving parts here to go bad). Although Vacu Vin states its not for use with sparkling wines, I’ve used it with success and it kept my sparkler sparkling for seven days — although I did use it for making Champagne Chicken after that!  The best thing to do with any sparkling wine, though, is just drink it 🙂

Private Preserve is reasonable at approximately $10 for 120 bottles.  I would assume 120 bottles really equates to 120 “uses”, as I often use it after each pour so a wine is not sitting exposed to excess oxygen long, before deciding if its to be finished or not.

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