A hi-tech way of preserving open bottles of wine from oxygen contact could prevent consumers and restaurants from being afraid to open better bottles of wine.
After three years in development, engineering company Pek Systems is to launch what it claims is the first affordable high-end device to preserve wine. It uses replaceable cartridges of argon gas to displace oxygen from partially empty bottles of wine. Argon is an inert element that does not react with wine.
Low-end solutions currently on the market are ineffective, says the company. Vacuum-creating pump systems only produce a 70 per cent vacuum and the valves they use are susceptible to air leakage. These systems, says Pek, are only likely to keep wine for 12 hours. The Pek Wine Steward, on the other hand, preserves wine for up to one week.
Previous gas displacement systems are also not as effective either because they use nitrogen, which is not completely inert and fills the bottle from the top down. Unlike nitrogen, argon is heavier than air - providing a blanket of inert atmosphere at the wine's surface.
The currently available Pek Wine Steward, the Supremo, costs $230 and comes with temperature management control. But next month sees the launch of Preservo, without the temperature management control, for $160. A box of ten Argon cartridges costs $15, each cartridge capable of preserving ten bottles of wine.
Pek spokesman Mike Lerner said: "We have developed the technology here in Napa-Sonoma wine country, alongside the wine experts." The invention was the pet project of Pçk president and CEO Gregory Luzaich, a mechanical engineer frustrated with having to "pour great wine down the drain".
Lerner emphasised the savings that the innovation will bring to restaurants serving wine by the glass. He expects there to be a high demand for the device. "Sales of lower end devices are currently around 1 million year, and our one actually works," he said.