Friday, December 17, 2010

A CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEA PUT TO THE TEST: WINE SHIELD


A few months ago I was given two 6-packs of Wine Preserva's Wine Shield, a device used to help prolong the freshness of opened bottles of wine, for up to 5 days. It works by placing the Wine Shield (pictured bottom left) onto the surface of the wine with a twisting device (also pictured), thus floating the shield on the wine's surface via bubble wrap-like air pockets, which provides a barrier between the wine and air, slowing the oxidation process. It's all quite simple really.

To put Wine Shield to the test I simultaneously opened two bottles of Wynns' 2008 Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Shiraz Merlot, a wine I consider reasonably reflective of the type of wine usually left open for a couple of days, whether it be at a consumer's house or a restaurant. I placed a Wine Shield in one of them but not the other, and took separate notes on each of the wines, side by side, once a day for a week.

My original review of Wynns' 2008 Cabernet Shiraz Merlot can be found here.

Here's the results:

Day 1 (opening)
Control Wine: I bought this wine on the day, from a retail outlet, and it presented warmer, richer scents on the nose when first opened.

Wine Shield Wine: This wine had been sitting on my wine rack since September and it was colder and more closed initially than the other wine, but after sitting in the glass for 45mins its aroma essentially matched that of the Control Wine. Kudos to Wynns winemaking team for consistency between these two, mass-produced wines.

Day 2
Control Wine: On opening, considering this wine was never decanted/aerated, it actually smells awkward, like cardboard/bran flakes with blackcurrants. After sitting with a glass out of it for a day, it smells a bit flat. In contrast to the nose, its palate is rich and juicy, not too far removed from my original note.

Wine Shield Wine: Smells much better, richer and more profound than the Control Wine. The same 3 elements I originally observed; rich fruit, oak and spice, are all apparent on the nose. It's much softer aromatically. The palate seems more saturated with dark fruit flavour than the Control Wine, and if anything, it's possibly filled out a bit since day 1. Length looks good too.

Day 3
Control Wine: Alcohol/warmth seems to stick out more. Fruit resembles more dates (which was originally noted) with some oak evident, but any spice/eucalyptus seems fleeting, looking more like menthol. The cardboard/bran notes are still there. As with the previous day, the palate better matches my original note than the nose. Drinks fine really, with its core of luscious dark berry fruit flavours still in tact.

Wine Shield Wine: Once again richer, smoother and softer on the nose. Palate still drinks fresh and rich, although I detect hints of menthol at the finish as opposed to my original 'eucalypt'. The tannins seem to show more grip than the Control Wine.

Day 4
Control Wine: Really starting to drop away on the nose (prune juice now?), with freshness of fruit and aromatic character giving way to first signs of vinegar. Palate still drinks okay but there's a warmth emanating at the finish.

Wine Shield Wine: No vinegar characters but its freshness doesn't seem quite as lively as on previous days. For the first time the cardboard/bran note I recognised in the Control Wine on day 2 is now evident here. More date and menthol on the nose. Palate drinks reasonable but may be on the wane. It shows dark, ripe and rich fruit flavours upfront, but it's a bit flat to finish (still softer than the Control Wine) and its brightness isn't exactly A1. If I were to score this tasting I'd say 87 points, maybe 88 at best.

Day 5
(After having a big day I didn't assess either wine during the day, but woke up in the middle of the night and took notes on their aromas)
Control Wine: Nose really becoming a bit indistinct and flat.

Wine Shield Wine: Retains more fragrant lift and dark fruit aromas than the Control Wine, but likewise, it isn't as inviting as it once was.

Day 6
Control Wine: Nose staring to show volatility; varnish, vinegar, alcohol, little or no richness of fruit, but there is a touch of blackberry left, maybe. Although still relatively luscious upfront, its palate thins to finish.

Wine Shield Wine: Softer fragrance, black fruit and yes, perhaps even spice. Palate is soft and still rises through the finish, unlike the control wine. Admittedly it's looking good.

(This was as far as I had initially intended the taste testing to go, but the Wine Shield Wine was drinking so well I thought I'd push it out another 2 days)

Day 7
Control Wine: Fruit is really dying away now. Just smells flat and slightly porty, nothing like day 1 at all really. Flavour definition is getting lost, seriously (just tastes like generic cask red really) whilst textural interest is non-existent. It's downright simple but still inoffensive really. I'd be content with this in a cask, although it's a struggle to drink, even for me...

Wine Shield Wine: Immediately softer and livelier, but there's certainly a hint of fruit breakdown around the aroma's edges (if that makes sense). Softness of texture is still apparent, but depth of flavour is wading. Likewise, its character is simplifying, yet it still finishes agreeably long. Now definitely a real quaffing wine, yet not cask quality like the Control Wine. 86 points maybe?

Day 8
Control Wine: Well gone now. Nothing smooth or rich about the palate at all, and its finish is getting harsh. Its fruit profile now resembles dark grape juice at best.

Wine Shield Wine: We have a problem! The level of wine has become so low in the bottle, that the bung is sticking through, which has lifted the Wine Shield to stick to the bottle's side, leaving the wine exposed to air. Keep in mind, Wine Shield's packaging does say 5 days....
Fittingly, the wine has lost a lot of quality with this overnight foul-up, more so than on any other night, but it still has much more to it than the Control Wine.


CONCLUSION
Without doubt, Wine Shield works exactly as intended. The difference between the two wines was evident from day 2 and it only seemed to get greater as the taste testing went on. It would be a very handy device for restaurants or bars, as well as people who tend to have open bottles of wine lying around the place. Its price is fair too, starting from around $10 a 10-pack up to around $100 for 120. At no more than a dollar a unit you're not really adding too much to the cost of your wine here.


6 comments:

  1. @bellabacchante (Caroline)December 18, 2010 at 12:14 AM

    My school mate's Dad invented this. Great to see a side by side comparison over a week to see how it goes. Good one!

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  2. What an interesting post, thanks!

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  3. Caroline,

    Cheers to your mate's Dad! I remember seeing him (I guess it was him) on the New Inventors a few years ago and was very impressed with the simplicity and function of his Wine Shield. Even then, I was still skeptical with the invention (which I usually am with this sort of thing) but after my recent tests I'm now a convert. Good one indeed!

    Cheers,
    Chris P

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  4. Thanks Zoli :)

    I have a few Wine Shields left and as I'm not the type of person to leave unfinished bottles of wine lying around my place (I have too many visitors for that and anyway, I try to buy wines I know will get drunk), I'm thinking of using some of them for other tests, such as a white wine for example.

    Cheers,
    Chris P

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  5. Chris,

    Are these easy to use? Will see if I can find some next time I'm in a bottle shop. . . though curiously the delicious wines that would be worth saving never seem to make it to nights end at my place!

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  6. Ed,

    They're very easy to use, so long as you don't make the mistake of immediately removing one from its condom-like packaging!

    I find it's a very human-like nature to open things immediately, even before reading the instructions sometimes, which unfortunately, will cause you to waste your Wine Shield, because you have to leave them in their packaging to work properly.

    The Wine Shield I photographed here was actually one I sacrificed for the sake of this post, because once out of their packaging they would be extremely difficult to place into a wine bottle correctly.

    Maybe I should've mentioned this, but I'm just going to assume my readers will read the instructions first........:)

    Cheers,
    Chris P

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