Perhaps you have a significant other who doesn’t drink wine, necessitating saving a half drunk bottle of wine for the next evening. Or perhaps, more realistically, like me, after finishing off two bottles of wine with your significant other, you want to open a third, but you also don’t want to waste what might be left over from that third bottle. So, we all have that dilemma – how best to save the wine still left in the bottle for tomorrow night or the night after. Over the years we tried a variety of products / techniques in our house, and we decided it was time to figure out which was the best.
Setting Up The Experiment
Here at 10K Bottles, we’re not just all about wine, we’re also all about science, so we wanted to make sure this taste-off between the various stoppers was as scientifically valid as possible.
- The Wine – First, we decided we had to use the same four bottles. We chose a Muscardini Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma Valley, one of the wineries we love, to use for the experiment. We opened, at the same time, four bottles of Muscardini’s 2011 Cassata Vineyards Cab. As they all come from the same vineyard, we bought them directly from the winery at the same time, and only 120 cases were produced in total of this wine, we figured our odds of the four bottles of wine starting out nearly identical was pretty good. (As an aside, thanks to the negative press about the 2011 vintage in California, there are lots of screaming deals on the 2011 wines from California, which is great as many of them, like this one, are simply superb.)
Just in case (for science), immediately after opening the wines, we tasted each of them, and they all tasted roughly the same.
- The Pour and Corking – We poured out the same amount, one glass, from each bottle, and let each bottle sitopen for an hour (replicating a typical time a bottle might be open before recorking it), and then we corked each one up with a different type of stopper.
- The Stoppers
- The first stopper was a favorite of ours for simplicity – the Avina Wine Stopper(1).
- The second stopper, which we’ll call the Stone Stopper, was a gift from a friend, with a cork type base and a stone top.
- The third stopper was the Vacu Vin Wine Sealer, the most complex but what always appears to be the most
- For the fourth bottle, we went old school – we simply pushed the cork three-quarters of the way back in. Then we waited twenty-four hours.
24 Hours Later
The next evening, we re-opened the four bottles, poured out four glasses and my husband and I blind tasted each of the four wines(2) (we tasted all four twice – this is for science after all). Once we each shared our thoughts while they were blinded, which were pretty close between the two of us, we unblinded them.
The results 24 hours into the experiment were:
I rated the Avina and the cork as the best and equal, with the Vacu Vin and the Stone Stopper equal as worse. My husband rated the Avina first, the cork second, the Vacu Vin third, and the Stone Stopper as worst. To keep the experiment going, we kept the bottles open for one hour, and then re-corked them to wait another twenty-four hours.
48 Hours Later
The third evening we followed the exact same blind tasting methods, and . . .
None of the wines survived. No stopper could deal with a wine open for an hour, closed for twenty-four hours, re-opened for an hour, and reclosed for another twenty-four hours. The wines were all bad. Fascinatingly, we still wanted to rate them from best to worst, but we couldn’t. After we tasted them blind but before we unblinded them, my husband and I compared notes, and our thoughts on which bad wine was better and worse varied drastically – never a good sign. So, as we were skeptical of our first taste, we did a follow-up blind taste (handing each other the glasses in a random order with our backs turned, so we couldn’t see how we previously rated each wine), and found that our thoughts on our second taste didn’t even match our first taste. In other words, our palettes were simply unable to compare one dead wine to another dead wine in any reliable fashion. As an aside, they teach sommeliers that if they suspect a wine is corked, not to actually taste it for fear that it will destroy their palettes for the next half hour. That likely is exactly what happened to us, we couldn’t even keep our own consistency in thoughts tasting the sour wine.
The conclusion on stoppers is interesting, and not what we expected. That seems to be a common refrain from blind tastings.
We’re throwing away our Vacu Vin and the Stone Stopper. We’re keeping our Avina stoppers as they did the best, but we won’t be hesitant to just throw the cork back in – pushing it back ¾ of the way in. And, we’ll happily reopen a wine a second night – those wines were still good. But, we’ll never reopen a wine, close it, and then reopen it for a third night of drinking.
- Avina provided by the company
- We accomplished the blind tasting using a wine pen, we numbered the four bottles and then numbered the four glasses on the bottom side where we couldn’t see the numbers, and then lettered the glasses on the top where we could, and rated them by letter.
- Featured Image: Wine Bottles with Stoppers – Crystal Classics