Wine stoppers can serve both practical and decorative purposes. They also make a popular gift, given the many design choices available. With the right stopper, you can even preserve the life of a bottle of wine once you have opened it.
Types of Stoppers to Preserve Wine
Wine stopper types run the gamut from very simple and decorative to high tech types.
These stoppers work like replacement corks. They typically have some kind of rubberized area that gets a good seal with the neck of the bottle or cork with a decorative pull at the top to make it easy to remove from the bottle. Decorative stoppers minimally seal out the air in wine; however, they do allow some oxidation to continue. These types of stoppers can extend a wine's life a day or two, and they come in such a wide array of styles you can find them for all occasions, from whimsical Christmas styles to sleek and colorful simple styles, to fun and quirky designs.
Decorative stoppers make a wonderful way to express your personality and taste, and they also make wonderful gifts. Most wine shops carry an array of stoppers, and you can also frequently find quirky versions in gift and home shops, like Sur La Table and Pier 1 Imports.
Decorative wine stoppers work best when you plan to drink your open bottle within two days. They tend to be the most affordable, least effective way to preserve open wine. The stoppers with cork bottoms tend to break easily while the steel/rubberized stoppers have longer life.
These stoppers seal your wine, and give you the ability to pour through a small spout to minimize drips. They are usually made of metal or plastic, and they extend wine life in a manner similar to decorative stoppers. Try the OXO steel wine pourer/stopper or the Trudeau Spectra.
Vacuum Preservation Stoppers
Vacuum preservation stoppers come as part of a system that lets you manually pump the oxygen out of an open bottle of wine, creating a vacuum and theoretically extending the wine's life. Typically, the stoppers have a practical appearance, but make up for it in function. The rubberized stoppers fit into the open bottle top, and then you place a manual or battery operated pump on the top. With a few pumps of the handle, the wine is sealed away from air. These preservation systems may add an extra two or three days to the life of your wine after it is opened. Some popular versions include:
These stoppers work best when you plan to drink your open bottle within five days.
Inert Gas Preservation Stoppers
These stoppers take the vacuum concept a step further, replacing the vacuum with an inert gas such as argon or nitrogen. These types of stoppers, when used properly, can help you preserve your open wine for a week, or sometimes longer. Most come as part of a preservation system - the stoppers come with a gas cannister and delivery system. Some to consider include:
These types of stoppers give open wine the longest life. They also tend to be the most expensive stoppers.
Stopper Choice Is a Matter of Preference
Ultimately, even the longest-life wine stoppers only preserve open wine for a week or slightly longer. The type you choose may vary depending on how soon you plan to consume your open bottle of wine as well as your budget and personal taste.