For centuries, winemakers have studied the alchemy and chemistry of preserving wine. But what if you can’t — or shouldn’t — finish the bottle you opened? If the wine isn’t very good, stick a cork in it, put it in the fridge, and save it for cooking. If it’s amazing, dig deep and finish it right now! But what if it’s just a decent bottle of wine you want to savor over a few evenings?
Savino, the wine-preserving carafe, claims to solve this dilemma by preserving an open bottle for up to a week. Since the company sent us one to prove it, we set up an experiment to test the claim. Here, science-fair style, is our report on that experiment.
Minimizing the Premature Oxidation of an Opened Wine Bottle
As soon as you open a bottle of wine, it begins to spoil. Some wines need to breathe but after a few hours all wines decline. Is there a way to preserve an open bottle of wine so that you can enjoy it over multiple evenings?
The Savino claims to preserve an open bottle of wine for a week. Does it?
We did a blind taste test between:
- A half bottle of wine, with the cork stuck in the top, stored in the fridge for a week, then brought back to room temperature and poured into a glass. (This is our independent variable.)
- A half bottle of wine stored in the Savino, which was–as directed–kept in the fridge for a week, then brought back to room temperature and poured into a glass. (This is our dependent variable.)
- A newly opened bottle of wine. (This is our control variable.)
Since we don’t own a time machine, doing a blind taste test between a freshly opened bottle of wine, a week-old half bottle, and week-old wine stored in the Savino presented a puzzle. Ideally, we would compare the exact same wine in all three states. Since boxed wine uses a collapsing bag to eliminate exposure to oxygen, you can pour out some boxed-wine while the remaining contents are still as fresh as they day you bought it, so we decided that boxed wine would work for this test. We went with our favorite higher-end box wine, “Big House Red.” This wine gets a lot of mileage in our house; fancy enough to enjoy a glass with dinner, but affordable enough to cook with or use in this experiment.
- In the week before our experiment, we saved an empty wine bottle and its cork. We rinsed the bottle and let it air dry. This would be our “standard opened bottle” of wine.
- The Savino carafe, with it’s floating insert and gasket-sealed top would be our experimental wine storage system.
- The wine in the box would serve as our “unopened” control wine, even after we filled our two experimental vessels.
Savino says their carafe can preserve wine for up to a week, further stating that you could “enjoy Tuesday’s wine on Saturday.” (Four days.) We decided to hold them to “a week,” by testing 5-day-old wine.
We filled our clean wine bottle halfway from the wine box, stuck a cork in the top, and put that in the refrigerator. Then we filled the Savino device with about a half-bottle worth of wine. We inserted the oxygen-eliminating float to rest on the wine’s surface, then we installed the gasket top, and put the carafe into the refrigerator.
That left about three bottles worth of wine in the box. We stored the box in a cool, dark cupboard.
Five days later, we invited Kirk over. He is another Geek Girlfriends lab expert with extensive restaurant experience.
I clearly labeled three wine glasses: A, B, and C. I took the half-bottle and the Savino out of the fridge and let them sit out for 15 minutes to come up to room temperature. Then I poured three glasses of wine, randomly assigning the wine bottle, the Savino, and straight-out-of-the-box wine to glasses A, B, and C, making a secret note for myself as to which was which. Then I invited Christina and Kirk to join me at the dining room table, and asked them to try the three wines to see if they could tell the difference.
Comments/Quotes about the three glasses:
A. Wine stored in a half-full bottle with a cork in the top
“This one is pretty terrible, actually.”
“I hope this isn’t the one we are supposed to like?”
B. Wine stored in the Savino
“I would drink this.”
“This one seems fine to me.”
C. Wine straight out of the box
“I can’t tell a big difference between B & C.”
“Maybe this one is the best? Or maybe it’s B? They are a little different, but I would drink either one.”
The Savino does an excellent job of preserving an opened bottle of wine! The flavor changed a bit by the time we drank it but this was an opened half-bottle of wine that had been sitting for five days. It was still enjoyable. Wine left in a regular opened bottle was long past drinkable. If you frequently drink halfway decent wine, and would rather not swill the whole bottle in one sitting, the Savino is an excellent investment. After this experiment, we use it regularly. (Except when Kirk is here. Then we don’t need it.)