February 18 2011
It comes packaged like a condom sized for the Jolly Green Giant and it preserves your wine. With that incongruent image now seared into your mental retina, you’d be doing yourself a favor to check out a newcomer to the wine preservation market – Wine Shield.
Packaged for retail in packs of six and 10, Wine Shield is a food grade quality plastic disc that is approximately the circumference of a bottle of wine. Using a provided prong applicator, the Wine Shield is inserted into a bottle of wine where it floats on top of the remains of the bottle and acts as an oxygen barrier preserving the integrity of the wine for up to a week according to its inventors – an Aussie group called Wine Preserva.
Distributed state side by the same folks who sell WineSkin (the bottle transport bag), additional benchmark lab tests were conducted by ETS Laboratories in Napa. Using a Wine Shield against control bottles with no preservation method, ETS found a marked difference in the quality of wine preserved with a Wine Shield as indicated by oxidation over a period of three to seven days. Wine Shield, in their marketing materials, splits the difference and claims it, “Will preserve the taste and aroma of the wine at restaurant quality for up to five days.”
While lab tests are great, they are no match to kitchen counter testing so I set out to do my own trial. Using two bottles of an identical red blend (the appropriately called HOUSE WINE from The Magnificent Wine Company), I put a half bottle under the Wine Shield for five days and tasted it against a freshly opened bottle.
Color me surprised. I’m an avowed Vacuvin and refrigeration guy, so the notion of keeping a bottle of wine out on the countertop created more than a hint of skepticism. Yet, five days later not only was the wine preserved by the Wine Shield perfectly potable, but I’d dare say that is had imperceptible levels of degradation. It merely tasted as if it had been nicely decanted next to the freshly opened bottle. The nose was still delightfully intact, the fruit was abundant and the tannins had softened to a smooth, fine grain.
Yet, the Wine Shield is not without room for critique– the application process with the prong thingamajig is awkward and for the average wine enthusiast a Wine Shield is probably more of an occasional use item for expensive bottles of wine that won’t be finished in one sitting. Yet, at an inexpensive $5.95 for a six-pack and $6.95 for a 10-pack, I’d have a stash sitting around for when the need arises.
Where the real opportunity exists for Wine Shield, in my opinion, is in restaurants that serve wine by the glass, but don’t have earnest wine programs. We’ve all been to a Thai joint and ordered a glass of Riesling that, to put it mildly, was way over the hill. Here, where argon systems and wine preservation aren’t on the restaurant priority list, the Wine Shield would do wonders.
Overall, the Wine Shield is a winner and a little slice of genius when you consider how simple of an idea it is. Even the most jaundiced of wine enthusiasts will be pleasantly surprised at its performance. Consumers can buy it here and on-premise can buy wholesale here.