Geoff Kruth, a rising star in the wine world who appeared in the 2012 documentary “Somm,” about the pursuit of the prestigious master sommelier title, is “totally anti-wine gadget.” Kruth, now president of the nonprofit wine professionals organization GuildSomm, explains, “After more than 20 years of drinking wine nightly, I still think the best preservation method is a cork and refrigerator.” That said, a quick perusal of any big-box home goods store or winery gift shop will turn up wine aerators, pourers, purifiers, automatic and electric openers, foil cutters and more, proving the demand for wine gear is high. Wine experts from Kruth in California to another master sommelier in New York helped us tackle the wine stoppers and preservers category, because sometimes, even with a good wine, you just need to put a cork in the party and call it a night.
When she founded the New York wine studio Corkbuzz in 2011, Laura Maniec was one of only 18 female master sommeliers in the world. Now Corkbuzz has three locations, including one in Charlotte, where visitors can eat, take wine classes and attend wine dinners. At all three, she uses the Vacu Vin Wine Saver/Stopper ($9.95-19.95, crateandbarrel.com, shown above). Two other experts we interviewed also praised the Vacu Vin: Madeline Puckette, founder of culture website Wine Folly, and André Hueston Mack, named a best young sommelier in the United States and founder of Maison Noir Wines.
At the San Francisco Wine School, the largest wine school in the United States, a lot of bottles get tapped for brief tastings. For preservation of those vintages, the founder and chief executive of the school, David Glancy, likes VineyardFresh’s pure argon spray ($29.95, vineyardfresh.com). “You spray the gas into the bottle and reseal it with the original cork or any cork,” he says. “Using . . . [it] in conjunction with keeping the bottles in the refrigerator extends the life of all wines.”
Another winner was the Coravin. It was noted by Mack, Glancy and Puckette, author of “Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine.” More for the enthusiast, it allows you to taste wine without even popping the cork. “You can actually access a fine wine, taste it, enjoy a glass of it and put it back in your cellar,” Puckette says. “I tested one about 10 to 12 months later, and it’s surprising how well it works.” There are a number of models and colors, but the Model One System is the Coravin at its most basic ($199.95, coravin.com).
A favorite of Eric Hastings, E. Guigal marketing manager at New York’s Vintus, an importer of family-owned, estate-based wines, is the Franmara Nickel-Plated Champagne Stopper ($7.07, amazon.com). Hastings, who spent 21 years managing wines on the floor in restaurants before joining Vintus, says, “It has consistently provided the best seal to maintain the freshness of sparkling wine that I’ve seen for two decades.”
First funded on Kickstarter, the Repour ($8.99 for a pack of four, amazon.com) is gaining a following. The product is a one-time-use stopper filled with a material that reduces the oxygen levels of the half-drunk bottle to below 0.05 percent. “When you open the bottle after it’s been under Repour, there’s a little hiss, and the dissolved oxygen is gone,” says Pete Holland, writer of the Wine in Common column for the Nashville Scene. “It needs to open up like it does a new bottle.” No surprise it’s designed by a chemist, Tom Lutz.
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