Last night, I said goodbye to an old friend: my cherished bottle of 1984 Warre's LBV port. I purchased this bottle for $20 in the fall of 1998, and have been drinking it steadily for the past two years. But as I took a sip from the meager glass I poured myself, I noticed that the thing that made it a great wine was gone. Just up and disappeared. It is often this way. Fortunately, there was not a lot left. I poured out the sediment of 16 years: the darkest purple you can imagine, the essence of what was and what would never be again. This was a wine that brought substantial joy for a long period of time, and I owe it all to the Vacuvin.

This is a wine preservation system involving a pump and rubber corks. After you remove the actual cork and go about drinking your wine, you simply insert a rubber cork and pump out the air--air, which is wine's mortal enemy. If you're careful and really get everything out of the bottle (and don't bother me with details about a perfect vacuum), your wine can last a very long time indeed without turning to vinegar.

I've seen lots of people slam the Vacuvin and other pump systems as a waste, but I suspect this is only because they don't use the tools properly. Actually, even if you follow the device's instructions perfectly, you will not get a satisfactory result--you have to pump and pump and pump until you get it right (and don't forget to wet the stopper!). But I find this to be a small price to pay for keeping a good wine alive and kicking. Go out and get yourself one--I highly recommend it.

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