A 23 litre demijohn container of red wine was the topic of discussion in Huon Hooke’s article Natural Wonders, Sydney Morning Herald, Good Living Section, 17 August 2010.
It’s a natural wine called Winter Twenty 10 by Voice of the People, which is bottled fresh from the barrel in Sydney as the restaurants order it. Interestingly, the wine is topped by a layer of olive oil, a tradition that dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. It protects the wine from oxidation as the wine is drained out of the demijohn. Providing it is emptied within three weeks the wine stays fresh and is not at risk of picking up the taste of the olive oil.
How to protect an opened bottle of wine from oxidation is not only of concern to restaurants and bars. Many of us at home sometimes have trouble polishing off a bottle with dinner.
Wine contains natural or added antioxidants, such as sulphur dioxide and ascorbic acid, which preserve the wine. Once a bottle is opened, oxygen contact begins to deplete these antioxidants, causing deterioration in aroma, taste and colour.
An Australian company has come up with a novel solution to the problem of oxygen exposure. Called Wine Shield, it’s a thin, flexible disc of bubble wrap sealed with a food-grade plastic. The edge of the disc is scored so it can fit snugly into most bottle widths, providing a protective barrier between the wine and oxygen. Pushed into the bottle by a plastic ‘wine spear’ that comes with the disc set, the disc does not have to be removed for recycling purposes.
The product was recently trialed by Harvey Steiman of the Wine Spectator, who used it on 3 half-empty bottles. After four days the wines tasted exactly the same as they had on the day the bottles were first opened, as confirmed by his original tasting notes. The above graph shows the level of oxidation in bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, as measured by sulphur dioxide levels with and without Wine Shield, from opening up to 7 days.
I’ve just order a 10 pack for $9.95. Free delivery in Australia. I’ll let you know how I go!