If you've ever experienced the frustration of having to dump out an opened bottle of wine that's been sitting in the fridge for a few days, you know how quickly air exposure can turn a great wine into an undrinkable mess. Fortunately, there are several different types of wine dispensers that can help extend the shelf life of your best bottles.
Popular Home Wine Dispensers
Most opened bottles of wine aren't really drinkable after three days in the fridge. When you uncork that bottle, you allow the air to come in contact with the wine. This immediately begins to change the wine's flavor. Initially, this "breathing" process can be a good thing, but after the first couple of days, the wine has lost much of the flavor that made it great. The oxygen in the air has reacted with the wine and destroyed it.
A wine dispenser works to preserve the wine by preventing it from coming into contact with the air. Often, this involves placing a layer of non-reactive nitrogen over the surface of the wine, effectively resealing the bottle for you. There are many different wine dispenser designs on the market. Depending on your needs and budget, one may be perfect for you.
If you're on a budget and don't do a lot of entertaining, a single-bottle wine preservation system like The Keeper could be ideal. This system features a dispenser nozzle or tap, which is attached to a nitrogen canister. After you open the bottle of wine, you insert the nozzle into the bottle. This pumps nitrogen gas into the bottle, and you can use the dispenser to pour the wine one glass at a time. When you've finished pouring and want to put the wine away, you simply disconnect the nitrogen canister and place the bottle in your refrigerator.
The Keeper has several advantages, including its price tag of only about $125. This system is easy to use and works well for the home wine connoisseur. However, the addition of the dispenser nozzle may make storing the bottle in your fridge a bit awkward. It's also important to put the dispenser nozzle into the bottle as soon as you open it.
Vintner Wine Preserver and Dispenser
If you like to keep more than one bottle open at a time, a multi-bottle system may better suit your needs. The Vintner Wine Preserver and Dispenser allows you to sample from three bottles of wine for weeks without worrying about a loss of flavor. This system features an attractive oak rack that displays the three bottles. Dispenser nozzles fit into the necks of each bottle and are connected with tubing to a nitrogen canister that's hidden behind the display rack. To pour a glass from any of the three bottles, you simply lift the handle on the corresponding nozzle.
The Vintner Wine Preserver and Dispenser is pricey compared to The Keeper. At about $350, it's a less practical purchase, but it does solve a problem for home wine enthusiasts who don't like to limit themselves to one open bottle at a time. Unless you have a shelf of your refrigerator that is dedicated solely to wine storage, finding room for this unit may be a challenge. Just like with The Keeper, it's essential that you insert the nozzles into the bottles as soon as you open them.
SkyBar One Refrigerated Wine Preservation Systems
You don't have to worry about making room in the refrigerator with the SkyBar Wine Preservation Systems. These units, which can accommodate between one and three bottles depending on the model, have an integrated refrigeration system with pre-set ideal temperatures for all the most popular wine varieties. You can also manually adjust the temperature to your own preferences. Unlike most other systems, these do not use nitrogen cartridges to preserve the wine. Because of this, the preservation time is a bit shorter, usually about 10 days.
The advantages of these system include their stylish design, all-in-one functioning, and handy pre-set temperatures. One significant disadvantage is the price, which ranges from about $450 for the one-bottle model to about $1,100 for the three-bottle system. In consumer reviews, some users complain about the noise of the fan as well. If you're serious about your wine and routinely spend a lot of money on valuable bottles, this may be ideal for you. If you're a casual wine drinker who hates to waste good bottles, you may be better served by a less costly wine dispensing system.
Vinotemp Wine Kegerator
Vinotemp Kegerators come in two-bottle and four-bottle systems. The Kegerator cools four bottles to the perfect temperature and then dispenses them through taps. The dispensers are great for either home or commercial use, and the interior LED makes them perfect for display.
The 2-bottle unit costs around $900 while the costs around 4-bottle unit $1,800. The units are modular, so you can also customize them and place them together to hold as many bottles as you need.
Commercial Grade Dispensers
Serious aficionados will find that commercial grade dispensers are perhaps the best choice for stocking their home wine bar or cellar. These dispensers cost quite a bit more than home options, but they have features to make up for the price increase.
If you're looking for another deluxe option, a commercial wine dispenser might be a good choice. The WineKeeper Napa is at the low end of the commercial wine preservation spectrum, but it could be perfect for a serious home wine enthusiast. This unit refrigerates and dispenses up to four bottles of wine, using nitrogen to preserve the wine for weeks. The attractive wood exterior would fit in with any home wine cellar, and you can choose between oak or mahogany. You can customize the faucets to be black, chrome, or brass. There's also room to store back-up bottles of wine perfectly chilled behind the currently tapped bottles.
There are many advantages to this system, including the lengthy storage time, easy dispensing, attractive case, and all-in-one convenience. The biggest disadvantage is the price, which is about $1,500 to $3,000. For the casual wine drinker, the WineKeeper Napa would be overkill. However, if you're very serious about your collection, it could be ideal.
Another great commercial wine dispenser that could be perfect for home use, Le Cruvinet offers endless options for customization. Available in many configurations, including two-bottle units, four-bottle units, and dispensers capable of holding a full eight bottles, this unit uses nitrogen to preserve the wine. You can choose the wood species of the case as well. Options include walnut, oak, mahogany, and many decorator colors. This refrigerated unit holds both red and white wine and can store them at different temperatures.
Because of the many customization options, Le Cruvinet doesn't post prices for their units. These dispensers are made in the United States, and they are very popular with professional wine bar owners and restaurateurs. This choice could be ideal for a serious wine connoisseur with an extensive collection of bottles.
How to Choose
Deciding on the right wine dispenser for you is mostly about assessing your needs and budget. If you've new to the world of wine, a single-bottle, non-refrigerated dispenser like The Keeper would serve your needs. If you're designing your dream wine cellar and are a serious oenophile, a refrigerated system might be best for you. No matter which option you choose, you'll put an end to that frustrating experience of wasting wine that has gone bad.