Wines stored in the eto stay fresh for 12 days – and fool the experts, as Adam Lechmere found
How do you keep wine fresh after opening the bottle? It should be pretty simple: all you have to do is keep the oxygen out. As soon as you pull the cork on a bottle, the wine begins to oxygenate (it shows as a metallic, flat flavour), so as long as you keep the bottle airtight you should be alright. But it’s not as easy as that: however good the seal, there’s going to be a reservoir of air trapped in the bottle, which the wine is going to absorb.
Inventor Tom Cotton and his partner Dina Jahina think they’ve solved this conundrum with an intriguingly simple device called eto. Cotton, who was part of the design team responsible for developing baby-friendly drinking bottles for Tommee Tippee, spent five years developing – and patenting – eto.
eto (which means “again” in Cotton’s native Welsh) is a shiny, space-age-looking glass and metal decanter with a plunger which makes a perfect seal at the same time as expelling any air in the bottle. Wine experts (including this writer) have been unable to tell the difference between a just-opened bottle and one that has been open 10 days and sealed by eto. “It really works,” said Master of Wine Richard Hemming.
Independent testing by a team led by Professor Bela Paiz at Bangor University found eto outperformed all its competitors in regard to the amount of oxygen dissolved in the wine after a certain length of time. “The results were indisputable,” Paiz said.
eto is certainly attractively sleek and satisfyingly heavy; it pours very nicely, and there’s no doubt it does an excellent job of keeping wine fresh. It also has the advantage over its rivals (see below) of being purely mechanical – it has no fiddly and expensive gas canisters that need to be replaced. And because it works by decanting the wine, it’s equally effective for screwcap bottles. As yet it won’t work for sparkling wine, Cotton says.
eto, which reached its target £55,000 ($70,000) on kickstarter within 30 hours instead of its 30-day deadline, will be on sale for £79 ($100), though kickstarter funders can get it for £59.
eto will be on sale in February 2018.
How does it compare?
Glass and metal decanter with an airtight plunger system that removes air as it forms a perfect seal.
Pros: attractive (the metal top comes in two shades, silver and gold), affordable, beautifully simple (no gas, few moving parts). And it works
Cons: The price tag might put you off
The VacuVin wine pump
The oldest and most-recognised system on the market works by simply pumping out the air through a re-sealing rubber cork. It works – to an extent. You’ll find the wine is fresher than it would have been without pumping after 24 hours but it won’t preserve it much longer than that.
£10 ($13) average
Pros: cheap, easy to use
Cons: ok for a day but not for much longer
Top selling hi-tech device which pours wine without opening the bottle. A hollow needle plunges through the cork and syphons out a measured amount of wine while simultaneously replacing the oxygen with inert argon gas. Coravin was launched in 2013 and can genuinely claim to have revolutionised the way wine is sold – allowing bars and restaurants to massively increase their wines-by-the-glass lists. Ultra-posh London wine club 67 Pall Mall, for example, has dozens of Coravins and sells the world’s rarest wines – like Château Latour 1961 or Cheval Blanc 1947 – by the glass.
£250 (£318) average, plus argon capsules at average £20 ($25) for two
Pros: efficient and effective. Portable. Can be used at home. It works
Cons: expensive (£200+) and can difficult to use; you are tied into the company by having to replace the argon gas capsules; can only work with wines sealed with a cork; doesn’t work with sparkling wines
Another revolutionary device, the forerunner of Coravin. Wine bottles stand upright in a cabinet and – as with Coravin – syphons out a measure of wine and replaces the oxygen with inert gas. Enomatic machines are used in restaurants and bars and wine merchants. They can be adapted work with pre-paid cards, dispensing anything from a 10 ml tasting sample to a 175ml glassful.
£5000 ($6,400) starting price
Pros: efficient and effective. It works
Cons: the price puts Enomatic out of consumers’ reach