Champagne, prosecco and sparkling wine preservers compared
You’ll see dozens of sparkling wine stoppers with wings that clip over the bottle top to try to keep the bubbles in part-drunk fizz. The stoppers we looked at have added extras and claim to work better.
Ordinary, unsecured wine stoppers or putting the cork back are dangerous options. Even when half empty, there’s high pressure in a bottle of sparkling wine, and unsecured stoppers can fly off and do serious damage.
Maintaining pressure is the main job for sparkling wine preservers. Champagne and other sparkling wines are less prone to oxidation than wines because the typically high acidity and the high level of dissolved carbon dioxide are protective.
Our experts tried two champagne and sparkling wine preservers you can buy easily and two of the most popular DIY methods: a wad of kitchen paper and a teaspoon in the bottle.
Kitchen paper wad in bottle neck…
…then tightly wrapped in plastic wrap held in place with an elastic band.
Verdict: Worse than nothing.
How easy to set up? Moderately easy
How easy to use? Easy
How easy to clean and put away? n/a
Does it do the job it says it should? The prosecco scored 1/5, same as the control, but had only a prickle of fizz left. The champagne scored 2, had retained a little more fizz, but had also taken on a papery flavour.
Pros and cons: A safe but not effective seal.
The classic teaspoon
We used modern, stainless steel teaspoons, the same model on both prosecco and champagne, hung in bottle neck as soon as we had poured.
Verdict: Keep your fizz in the fridge and your teaspoon in the drawer.
How easy? Very easy.
Does it do the job it says it should? Our experts had always taken this for an old wives’ tale. So it came as a big surprise when the prosecco sample under spoon scored 3/5 and the champagne a not-far-from perfect 4. We were left wondering if the teaspoon method would work better than a completely open bottle, and whether temperature would make a difference. We decided to test further.
Second round: We tested four bottles each of the prosecco and champagne. As before, we poured two 125ml glasses from each bottle. For each wine style, between tastings, we refrigerated one bottle wide open and one bottle ‘spooned’.
We left matching pairs of wine bottles in a cool, dark room at about 18°C. By the seventh day, both sets of warm wine had lost most but not all of their bubbles. The chilled prosecco, with or without spoon, scored between 2 and 3, ‘less to fairly acceptable’, while the chilled champagne scored 3, ‘still fairly acceptable’.
Conclusion: The spoon had no effect. There was no difference in sparkle between bottles left completely open and ‘spooned’ bottles. Bottles kept chilled in the fridge kept their sparkle much better. And (bottle-fermented) champagne kept its fizz better than (tank-fermented) prosecco.
Pros and cons: Cheap and easy. Less effective for prosecco
The best sparkling wine preservers from our test
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All prices correct as of October 2020.
Bar Amigos Champagne Pressure Stopper, £12.99 for pack of three
This patented Champagne Pressure Stopper has metal wings to clamp over the bottle and a big button on top to hand-pump air through a valve into the bottle and restore the pressure required to maintain the fizz. The metal is thin and a little sharp.
Claims: Will preserve fizz for well over seven days, possibly for more than two weeks
Vacu Vin Champagne and Sparkling Wine Saver and Pourer 6214, £11.99
A sturdy stopper/pourer for sparkling wines. The stopper clips by three tiny plastic hooks to the bottle rim. A plastic pouring spout protrudes from the top. When a metal ‘skirt’ is pushed down, a rounded plastic seal swivels into place. Lift the skirt to serve. It looks smart and feels nice to hold.
The marketing blurb claims it’s been: ‘Designed to keep the champagne sparkly and minimize oxidation. Once locked onto the bottle, the handle opens to allow perfect, non-drip pouring and closes to keep the champagne fresh.’
How we tested
- Our experts used the preservers on two types of fizz: a bottle-fermented champagne, Waitrose Blanc de Blancs Champagne £24.99, and a tank-fermented prosecco, Majestic Definition Prosecco NV £9.99 .
- Champagne and ‘traditional method’ sparkling wines typically have finer and more persistent bubbles than those made to bubble in tank (eg prosecco), and we wanted to see if they kept differently.
- The experts checked the bottles and served two 125ml glasses from each bottle before sealing according to manufacturers’ instructions and storing the bottles in the fridge.
- After a week, they compared the opened bottles (for taste and bubbles) with freshly opened wines.
- They also tested the popular method of dropping a teaspoon into the opened bottle, and a control using kitchen paper, clingfilm and a rubber band.
- After seven days untouched on a fridge shelf, the wines were rated on a scale from 1 not acceptable to drink to 5 almost no deterioration.
Our experts were:
Charles Metcalfe, wine taster and co-chair of the International Wine Challenge (IWC)
Kathryn McWhirter, wine taster, author and translator