It's rare that I'll open a bottle of wine without the intent of finishing it. I don't drink alone, but I like to make sure that if I'm going to open a bottle, the friends who are with me are ready to empty the bottle over the course of our evening together. However, when we get distracted from finishing the bottle, I end up using the leftover wine to cook, or dumping the dregs. I'm not often in the mood to drink the same wine two nights in a row--I like to mix it up!
I was asked, however, to fight my natural instinct in order to review this wine accessory, The Wine Doctor. It's a sleek pump that comes with stoppers that indicate when the air has been removed from your unfinished bottle of wine, with the aim of preventing wine-ruining oxidation before you can finish the bottle at a later date. It's easy to use (insert stopper, place cylinder on top, and pump until the red bar disappears), pretty enough to leave on the counter, and at $25 a pop, it's not too pricey for an everyday wine drinker.
So does it work?
I tasted a pinot noir one night, along with my boyfriend and a friend he had visiting. We talked about the wine and what we tasted when it was freshly-opened. I was familiar with the wine's profile already, and it delivered on my expectations: full of acidity but medium-bodied, good fruitiness and mild tannin. We fought the urge to pour ourselves a second glass, and I sealed the top of the now-half-full bottle using the Wine Doctor stopper. It was slightly awkward, both because the up-and-down pumping motion with a silver cylinder skews a bit pornographic, and because I kept pinching my fingers in the groove where the two cylinder portions meet. But I'm not the most graceful person, and once I figured out that I should probably move my hands away from the seam, it was much less painful!
The red disk in the stopper seemed to disappear much too quickly for the oxygen to have been completely removed from the bottle. It turns out the red disappears only when there's a seal between the stopper and the bottle, which happens on the first or second pump. At that point, the bottle can be lifted off the table by the stopper, but there's still air in the bottle that will continue to oxidize the wine. You need to keep pumping until it gets reeeeeeealllly difficult to pull up on the pump--there will still be oxygen in the bottle, but it's going to be a lower level than before.