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VacuVin still surprising after all these years

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Some things just bear repeating.

And my amazement about the effectiveness of the VacuVin is one of them.

I’ve written about this little gizmo before, but it’s just too great an addition to one’s arsenal of wine gadgets not to revisit. I use my VacuVin almost daily, and am always impressed by how easily it works, how it preserves wine for much longer than that precious commodity would last otherwise, and how many years it has continued to be of service with no signs of wear and tear whatsoever.

How many $15 items can you make that last comment about?

My love affair with the VacuVin began when I was gifted with my first one by my cousin Caryl. (I’ve since bought another I leave in my suitcase so it’s always with me on vacations.) She’d tried it, thought it worked wonderfully, and wanted to both share her newfound treasure with her wine-addicted relative AND see if my assessment was the same as hers.

Was it ever!

Before I continue, I should explain how this simple gadget works. If you’re left with an unfinished bottle of wine, simply insert one of the special rubber corks in the top of the bottle, then fit the VacuVin over the top of the cork and start pumping. Tiny exit holes or valves in the cork allow oxygen, which can cause wine to go bad prematurely, to be sucked out of the bottle. Once the device starts clicking, you and your remaining wine should both be good to go. Or stay. Or whatever the case may be.

A few suggestions and cautionary notes here: Don’t expect to reopen the bottle, have a glass, and then re-VacuVin it, then open it again and re-VacuVin it without a noticeable drop-off in quality. With each (re)opening, you’re exposing the wine to more oxygen, which takes a further toll each time. That’s still better than simply shoving the original cork back in the bottle, but the VacuVin can only do so much. So use it once, and then finish up the remainder of the bottle once you remove the rubber cork in the next day or three. Or even five.

To make the process extra efficient, what I’ve done is to buy a four-pack of Perrier — 330 mLs in each glass bottle. I enjoy the Perrier, and then when it’s finished, my husband or I wash the bottle thoroughly, put the screw cap back on it, and let it sit, awaiting (if I may be so bold as to suggest) its higher purpose.

If we have just slightly less than half a bottle of wine left, out comes the Perrier bottle, in goes the wine, on goes the vented rubber cork, then the VacuVin is put in place, oxygen vacuuming ensues, and the leftover wine, now safely ensconced in a much smaller bottle (smaller bottle equals WAY less oxygen to have to remove equals even less chance of the wine going off), sits awaiting consumption once again. I put VacuVin-ed white wine AND red wine in the fridge — the cooler temperature seems to preserve it even longer.

One thing I do that I’m NOT sure is a good idea is continue to pump once the VacuVin starts clicking. When I do this, I’ve noticed a ring of bubbles form around the top of the liquid in the bottle, which I’m hoping is just the result of my vigorous application of the oxygen pump and perhaps not-too-steady handling of the bottle. But I’m a little concerned that the VacuVin is so effective, when I enthusiastically overuse it — that is, pump it many more times than is necessary — it’s actually pulling out some of the gases that may naturally occur in the wine, thus altering it in some other, and probably not good, way.

So try not to be as zealous as I am (in my mind, if three clicks is good, I figure 15 must be better, which I suspect is not at all the case) and stop VacuVin-ing once you hear that first click or two.

What really prompted this revisiting of the VacuVin was an experiment I did that I’d never attempted before. I had about three-quarters of a bottle of wine left — way too much for a single Perrier bottle — and, due to the size of the VacuVin corks (when in place, they stand about an inch above the lip of the bottle), the original bottle was too tall to stand upright on the beverage shelf or in the door of my fridge.

So anticipating the worst but hoping for the best, I laid the bottle on its side, with a folded paper towel underneath the lip in case my initial qualms about leakage proved to be correct.

I checked the bottle a couple of hours later. The towel and the rubber cork were bone dry. I checked the next morning. Same scenario.

And I was delighted. Not only did the VacuVin preserve my wine by removing excess oxygen from the bottle (while a little aeration is a good thing — you’ve heard of letting wine breathe? — too much aeration or too lengthy an exposure to oxygen will cause wine to turn), but its special corks actually resealed the bottle and kept the liquid inside where it belongs.

When I mentioned this to my husband, he expressed no surprise.

"If the VacuVin cork keeps air out, one would expect it would keep wine in," he said drily.

Well, duh. That made sense. I felt a little sheepish about my elation. But just a little. Because I really was thrilled.

While the VacuVin used to be available at specialty stores, it’s now gone mainstream — I saw a huge display of them at Canadian Tire last fall. And really, I can’t say enough about this wonderful device. If you like your wine, and you like your wine to last, this is the best investment you could ever make.

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition April 27, 2013

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Some things just bear repeating.

And my amazement about the effectiveness of the VacuVin is one of them.

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Some things just bear repeating.

And my amazement about the effectiveness of the VacuVin is one of them.

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