I’ve written before about my favorite wine preserver, Private Preserve, which is one of these gas-blanket deals: You stick a long plastic nozzle into an opened bottle and squirt in a few shots of argon, a heavy gas that rests atop the wine, keeping oxygen away. (Others include Winelife, which has also worked well for me.) You have to store the wines upright after that, ideally in the fridge, but they last an awfully long time.
It’s a much better system, in my view, than the vacuum pumps (although reputable people still swear by them). But one friend after another has come to my house, seen me squirting away with my argon canister, asked about it, and then said something like, “Huh, I guess we never have the problem of half-finished bottles of wine—we always finish them.” It’s a funny thing to say, and people always smile and laugh when they say it, and I smile and laugh with them. The difference in my life, of course, is that I often have so many bottles open at once that if I just finished them all, I’d be blind drunk on a regular basis. Most people have no real need or desire to keep multiple bottles open; they just want to pop a cork with dinner each night, drain the bottle, and not fuss over such matters.
But here’s my argument in favor of giving Private Preserve or Winelife a whirl: There’s no better way to experience the differences between wines than by comparison tasting, and you can’t do comparison tasting on a single bottle every night. So if you’ve got a preservation method you really trust (CHOW has tested a few), you can start opening two or three or four bottles at a time—all your bottles for the next few days, say—and lining them up and swirling and sniffing and sipping side by side. Small differences between wines become magnified when you taste this way, and it’s enormously helpful in the constant struggle to improve one’s palate. And when you’ve had enough, and want to settle into some good old eating and drinking, you can make an informed choice of the right wine for that night’s meal, and even switch midstream to play around with pairings, and put all the bottles away when the meal is finished. The wines will still be fresh the next night, and the night after (not indefinitely, of course, but far longer than you’d think—in many cases up to a week, in some cases much longer), and you can keep repeating these comparisons, and even treating friends and plumbing contractors to them. Your own refrigerator, suddenly, will feel like a wine bar, which isn’t a bad thing at all.
Wines pictured from left to right above:
2006 Domaine Manoir du Carra Beaujolais Nouveau
I didn’t think so much of this wine (so shoot me), and in fact it’s one of the two I’ve written about before.
2005 De Conciliis Donnaluna Aglianico
This is an absolute gem of an Aglianico, far better in my view than the most recent release of the 2005 Aglianico d’Irpinia “Cretarossa” that is widely available.
Grapes: 100 percent Aglianico
Region: Campania, Italy
Price: $17.98 from K&L Wine Merchants
To my nose, this wine has a trace of sulfur and spice in the aroma, dry-but-smooth tannins in the mouth, bigger fruit than a lot of Aglianico, and an herbal bitterness in the aftertaste. Although that doesn’t all sound so great, I actually loved this wine. I’m a fan of Aglianico in general, but I’ve had some I liked far less than this one. Very highly recommended.
2005 Bogle Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
Fruit Sources: Clarksburg, Sonoma, Napa Valley, Lodi
Wood: 16 months in American oak
Alcohol: 13.5 percent
I found this wine plush and plummy and fruit-forward, plenty smooth, a nice value.
2005 Guenoc Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon
I’ve reviewed this wine before, too.