99% of wine consumed in the United States is consumed within 48 hours of purchase. That’s a pretty whopping statistic when one considers that in the past ten years alone, wine has more than tripled (probably a lot more by now) in sales across the country. In the Paso Robles, California growing region alone, the number of wineries has increased from around 60 in the year 2000 to over 170 today. Still, the 99% figure hasn’t changed.
It’s no wonder then that most people don’t think too often about what to do with a bottle once they’ve opened it, the simple answer is, they drink it. However, almost every wine drinker finds themselves opening a bottle only to have it half finished and wondering how to keep it fresh for the next day. Most folks simply put the cork back in the bottle, albeit usually upside down because the shape of the cork changed when it was released from its narrow and fermented confines. Still, that can be effective for a few hours.
If the goal is to save the bottle until the next day’s dinner - or even the day after that, one needs a different solution, an elegant solution that allows for all those nuances that were present at the de-corking. And if one has thrown a dinner party, opened a few bottles of wine none of which got emptied, now the difficulties are multiplied. Lots of leftover wine and pouring it down the disposal or pouring it into a pan with tomorrow night’s roast just doesn’t seem right.
Enter the humble wine stopper, so called. Certainly, wine stoppers are nothing new. Everyone has seen a bottle of wine with an attractive or artisan stopper in it and that is the beginning of wisdom for keeping wine around. Too many people treat wine like it’s a bottle of soda or sparkling water, simply putting the cork back in and expecting the wine not to change from one day to the next. The best way to think of wine, however, is as produce, like orange juice or lettuce or something along those lines. Oxygen, which is allowed into a bottle in very small amounts by a cork (called micro-oxygenation), will ultimately be the downfall of a good bottle. Once the bottle is exposed to air on a grander scale, its lifespan has been shortened and acting sooner rather than later will allow the consumer to enjoy the wine.
The best wine stoppers, then, are the ones that somehow seek to prevent oxygen from taking over the bottle. Most of these systems, and they are systems, work on a vacuum principal, sucking the air out of the bottle and replacing it with an inert or food grade gas such as argon or nitrogen. The best of these can handle more than one bottle and come with valves to allow consumers to pour a glass at a time for as much as two months without significant changes in the taste, mouth-feel, and aroma of the wine. But even without the inert gasses, a simple vacuum pump system with appropriate rubber stoppers can be just as effective and realistically, a good solid hand-crafted stopper that does not allow oxygen into a bottle can save it for as much as three or four days. The price ranges are vast as are the systems that those prices purchase. So, hold tight, here’s a tour of the best ways to stopper your wine.
The best wine stopper helps you preserve your favorite wine when you can't drink the whole bottle. We suggest wine bottle stoppers in a variety of designs to keep your favorite wine safe for drinking.