Earlier this fall, a nice guy named Ryan Frederickson emailed me to ask if I was interested in getting a sample of ArT 18, an argon wine preserver.
One of two things happens when I have wine at home: either we finish the bottle, or there’s a little bit left, and it sits in the fridge until it goes bad and we finally pour it out. Sadly, wastefully, we’d never given much thought to a wine preserving system.
And it’s not like there aren’t options! There are myriad ways to keep wine fresher after opening the bottle, with the vacuum stopper probably the most common. Other recommendations include transferring the wine to a smaller bottle or simply refrigerating it. The idea is to minimize interaction between the wine and oxygen, as the latter is essentially what causes vino to go bad.
That’s where Ryan comes in: he created the ArT Wine Preserver. The funny-looking name combines the symbol for argon (Ar) with the T representing technology. As with many good inventions, the product came about through a combination of need (he lived alone, and was hard pressed to finish a bottle during the week before it went bad) and expertise (his background is engineering for the argon industry.)
Seriously: he worked for a company that created ways for large-scale operations such as vineyards and food companies to use non-abrasive preservation methods. He simply took these ideas and applied them to a wine bottle. Basically, the argon gas creates a seal between the wine and the oxygen in the bottle, so the wine stays fresher longer.
Clearly, opportunity was knock-knock-knocking and about a week later I got a cool looking canister in the mail. The bottle warns that it feels empty even when full, and it’s true. The package was basically weightless.
Obviously, a comparison was needed to know how well ArT really worked. I went out to one of our local wine stores and picked up two $16 bottles of Josh Cabernet Sauvignon: one to use with ArT, one no preservative. I tasted both straight from the bottle (always 4 ounce pours) for a baseline comparison, and both were basically the same: a little closed on the nose, dusty berry notes, a little tarty and pleasant.
Four days later, the preserved bottle was definitely fresher than the non. It has more flavors, with notes of berry and pepper. The other wine was still drinkable, but had a little bit of bite two it. Another four days, and the preserved wine was fading but still had a fresh quality to the aromas and some richness. The non-preserved wine was a little musty and had a Sprite-like quality to it.
Twelve days post-opening, and the non-preserved wine was okay, but didn’t have much “there” there. It was drinkable, but only if you really, really wanted to have the wine. The Art-preserved wine was definitely still fresher with just a touch more flavor, and certainly the better choice between the two.
Then – oops! – I forgot about the wines for almost a month. Ryan told me that most wines would be still drinkable but not “like new” after two to three weeks. A wine could last longer, though, if it was a heavier red stored in the fridge. So the odds weren’t in my favor, but in the name of research, I had to try them both. It could have been worse. The preserved wine was palatable – but only if you really, really wanted to have it. The non-preserved wine was just not good.
In the interim, I’ve had the chance to use the preserver on a couple of other bottles that we didn’t finish but wanted to keep, and they held up beautifully for days. Best part? It takes about two seconds to use ArT. Simply spray the gas into the bottle, recork it, and stick it in the fridge. (This isn’t required, but the cold storage slows oxidation of the wine so it will last longer.)
The main question I had for Ryan after all this was simple: How the heck do you know when the bottle is empty? The “hissing” sound it makes when dispensing the argon will stop, he says, or if the can dents when you squeeze it. Which, come to think of it, could also be a great parlor trick!
Prices start at $14.99 per canister, with discounts for purchasing two or more bottles. Each can has up to 130 uses. Want to learn more or get your hands on some? Just head to their web site for more info. (It’s also on Amazon.) There’s also this brief video.