By Bill Marsano
Time was when we said "What leftovers? Finish the bottle!" But those of us who are "drinking smarter" these days know there are compelling reasons to <not> finish every bottle at one sitting, and for that reason wine-saving devices are more popular than ever. For this report, I tried the following:
Vacuuming the air out of half-full bottles of wine is easier than ever these days. One new gadget is Vacu Vin's the Concerto ($20; iwawine.com), a redesigned version of the original Vacu Vin, which made its debut in the 1980s. The Concerto's new, softer shape offers a firmer, more comfortable grip than does the original (which is still on the market), but its chief advantage is a built-in pressure plate that makes an audible click to tell you when sufficient vacuum has been created. Two stoppers with push-button pressure releases are supplied. The Concerto is faster than the original, the pumping is easier, and there's no death-grip struggle required to hold the thing in place while you pump.
A bit more expensive is Metrokane's level vacuum pump($30; iwawine.com), which looks much like its sister product, the Rabbit lever corkscrew. Works much the same way, too: put one of the two push-button rubber stoppers into the bottle and clamp the device onto the neck. Four extremely easy strokes of the lever make a vacuum. The only problem here is that the process is effortless--so much so that you'll find it hard to believe a vacuum has been created. The first few times you'll probably be dubious and decide to test by pushing the pressure-release button on the stopper. You'll be surprised to hear air hissing into the bottle. Soon enough you'll conclude that anything this easy is something you can get used to.
The newest and most unusual entry in the field is the Wine Keeper, from Zyliss ($20--or $18 from Amazon), which is unique--so far as I know--in being the only wine device that can switch from vacuum (for still wine) to pressurizing (for sparkling wine). It works just like the Vacu Vin in that the handle is stroked up and down, but a little red button near the top is used to switch functions. It comes with two vacuun stoppers and one pressure stopper, and it works easily and well. Frankly it's a surprise that no one has thought of this before, although I did once see a pressure pump that was made strictly for soda bottles (it had to be screwed onto the neck threads and was flimsily constructed). There are all kinds of fancy stoppers that do no more than keep the pressure in, but that's all they do. Moving from there to adding pressure, and doing it with a simple adaptation to a vacuum pump, was good thinking by Zyliss. In fairness, I doubt that anyone will be able to re-create the original bottle pressure, which is typically six atmospheres or about 90 pounds per square inch, but enough can be pumped in to save plenty of bubbles.