Cons: Have to get used to using it, creating routine
Discussing a product that you can not see, taste, smell or feel is tough! Want to make it more challenging? Create a product that functions not to make anything better, but simply to keep something from going bad. So, offering my take on the VineyardFresh Wine Preserver is a dubious task.
Weighing no more than the container in which it is contained, VineyardFresh is a stylish argon gas dispensing system. In a wine bottle-shaped container, the premise for VineyardFresh’s product is simple – create a barrier that inhibits the degradation in the quality of an open bottle of wine. And, as any oenophile (which I am far from being) will tell you, that product better not do anything to the flavor or appearance of the wine. Open a bottle of wine and, for one reason or another, you can’t finish it? In some cases, that open bottle was relegated to the kitchen (which is a whole other topic) or, at best, enjoyed with less excitement at a later time, injured by oxygen’s constant presence (that pesky oxygen!) as the quality will suffer. Enter VineyardFresh.
Argon gas is flavorless, invisible and heavier than air. As a result, the gas creates a barrier between the exposed surface of the wine in the open bottle and the oxygen that is intent on invading. VineyardFresh pumps the argon into what looks like a wine bottle married to a mousse dispenser. A few quick bursts of the natural gas and the wine is back to it pre-opened safety. But, does it work?
I am barely a wine drinker. Very barely. I enjoy white wine. I enjoy sweet, white wines. And little else! I know – heresy! But, I like what I like and you like what you like; please do not think less of me. So, I enlisted the help of a longtime friend and former wine guy/liquor salesman. Rich knows a lot about wine. He knows a lot more than I would ever hope to know. For starters, he successfully opened a very expensive bottle of his own wine. We tasted it. Then we gassed it with two quick bursts and left it for what, he explained, is far beyond what would usually be acceptable for later drinking. After telling me the bottle wasn’t expensive because he didn’t trust me with a “bottle of gas” near his well-stocked cellar, he opted for a 2008 Schild Shiraz Barossa. At about $20 for the bottle, I thought that was a costly investment in a little experiment. He argued that $20 is a very reasonable donation to the cause of scientific research, especially since he had bottles in his basement that ran well into the hundreds of dollars. At this point, I conceded and was also thankful that I am not a wine guy. We returned to the Shiraz some three weeks later and, as VineyardFresh promised, the wine was exactly as we left it. So I thought. Admittedly, I am not the better of the appraisers in this situation, but Rich concurred. He told me that it really worked and there was no change in the flavor of the wine. So, a product that you can’t see, taste, touch or smell worked.
As sampled, a single, retail bottle of VineyardFresh will do its thing to upwards of fifty bottles. The commercial package will handle over a hundred bottles, claims VineyardFresh’s makers. To appeal to restaurant users, VineyardFresh even has packaging available to allow safe transport of an open bottle from a restaurant, which can be taboo in some states. Pretty good marketing, actually, to stimulate bottle sales even when a customer feels that they will not be able to drain the bottle at one sitting. Also, the gas dispensing system is inexpensive enough to assist with by-the-glass sales and keep the integrity of the opened bottles appealing between pours.
Ultimately, VineyardFresh’s product true measure is to do nothing; nothing to the appearance and nothing to the flavor of the wine. And it does exactly that. For about $25 you get two dispensers that will handle around 100 bottles. Lose one decent bottle of wine and you kick yourself for not dropping the few sheckles it would have cost to hold onto that expensive juice. More information and ordering at: VineyardFresh.