Like popping open a can of soda or tearing into an ice cream sandwich wrapper, uncorking a bottle of wine involves a certain level of commitment. Once open, the window of opportunity for finishing the wine narrows as soon as the oxygen from the surrounding air reaches the fermented juice. But sometimes, all you want is one glass of wine to pair with your dinner. Or maybe you're in the mood for a red, and a friend has a taste for a white, but neither wants to down an entire bottle alone.
What's a wine lover to do? There's always the boxed wine option that dispenses as much or as little as you please and claims to stay fresh for up to six weeks in the refrigerator. But in spite of boxed wine's convenience, its cardboard accoutrements don't connote class.
For the price of a couple hundred boxes of wine, you can preserve your dignity and those precious bottles of merlot, pinot grigio or whatever your palate prefers. The electronic skybar Wine System chills up to three bottles of wine at the precise temperature for drinking, dispenses their contents at the touch of button and preserves any remaining wine in the bottle for up to 10 days. Combining thermoelectric refrigeration and vacuum technology, skybar guarantees to coddle your treasured wines and enhance their flavors for maximum drinking pleasure.
Before we delve into how skybar works its magic, it's worth knowing how to store bottles of wine before drinking. After all, if 500 grapes yield just one bottle of wine, you should treat your vino with care [source: Professional Friends of Wine]. Unless you happen to have a wine cellar in your McMansion, find a dark spot for bottles out of direct sunlight or fluorescent lighting. Otherwise, the ultraviolet rays from both light sources will destabilize the organic compounds in the wine, accelerating the aging process and altering the flavor [source: Pandell]. Also, rest them on their sides on a sturdy surface; this sideways position prevents the cork from drying out.
Once you're ready to pop open one -- or three -- of those bottles, don't pick up the corkscrew until it's at the correct serving temperature. Not sure how much to chill that chardonnay or Shiraz? Skybar will guide the way.
Mechanics of the Skybar Wine System
Most wine drinkers know that the general rule of thumb for wine temperatures is that you serve white cold and reds at room temperature. However, the meaning of "room temperature" has warmed up a bit since that dictum was first established. Therefore, many experts now advise slightly chilling a red before serving. A merlot shouldn't be as frosty as a chardonnay, for instance, but its flavor tastes best between 55 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit (13 to 15 degrees Celsius).
Temperature affects the taste of wine because heat alters the balance between the sugar, acid, tannins, carbon dioxide and alcohol that combine to make wine. Hotter temperatures enhance sweetness, for example. For that reason, we chill sugary whites and dessert wines, or else they wouldn't be palatable. On the other hand, the tannin compounds found most abundantly in red wines react favorably when warmer.
The skybar Wine System eliminates much of the guesswork involved in chilling wines. Since its three chambers operate independently, you can prepare a mix of reds or whites at the same time. After opening the bottle of wine and placing it into the skybar, you can set the desired serving temperature on the control panel. The system is manufactured with nine preset temperatures tailored for the nine most popular wine varietals, and you can adjust the settings manually from 45 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit (7 to 20 degrees Celsius). A white light next to the wine chamber illuminates when the bottle reaches the target temperature.
Skybar's cooling function operates off of advanced solid state thermoelectric technology. In other words, it refrigerates via electricity rather than coolant chemicals or ice. Thermoelectric refrigeration is based on the Peltier effect, which states that when an electrical current is applied across metals with different properties, such as copper and iron, heat from one metal transfers to the other. Whichever metal the heat flows out of becomes much cooler. In thermoelectric refrigerators, metal panels are arranged on the inside and outside of the refrigerator compartment to pass heat from the outside and keep it cool. The electrical current that produces the thermoelectric effect comes from the refrigerator's plug; some fridges also contain internal fans to accelerate the cooling process.
Now, it's time to pour.
Using the Skybar Wine System
There's no need to tilt the bottle to dispense wine from the skybar thanks to its pouring mechanism. When you open a bottle before placing it inside a skybar wine chamber, remove all bits of cork and foil around the neck. Then, place the tube extending from the pour assembly into the bottle of wine and fit the bottle stopper at the top of the tube inside the neck of the bottle. That rubber stopper ensures skybar's vacuum technology that facilitates the wine dispensing and storing will function properly. After the tube and stopper fit are locked in place inside the wine bottle, you can replace the pouring assembly in the skybar and close the chamber door. To reduce the chance of wine stains on your floor or furniture, the kitchen sink is the wisest place to complete this process.
Once you're ready for a sip, simply press the button at the top edge of the chamber, and the wine will come out of the pour spout into your glass, not unlike a fancy keg tap. Sediment from wine gathers at the bottom of bottles, which isn't pleasant to drink. To prevent skybar users from swilling a glass of these dregs, the bottom of the bottle tube curves upward.
When you've had your fill of wine but haven't finished the bottle, the skybar can extend the life of the remains. Generally, a corked bottle of wine sitting on the counter will hold for barely two days. That's because of a chemical reaction called oxidation that occurs when oxygen makes contact with the wine, leading to compound-altering reactions. Signs of oxygen include darkened color in the wine, sharp odor and spoiled taste. Through patented vacuum technology, the skybar Wine System halts oxidation by removing the oxygen from the wine bottle while the chamber is set on preservation mode. An open bottle of wine can last for up to 10 days inside of the skybar.
If dropping a grand on a three-in-one wine cooler, dispenser and preserver doesn't add up in your budget, don't forget about the box. Boxed wine companies have recently started marketing higher-end wines that you can nip on over the course of a month. The plastic bladder inside the box won't tell you when its contents have reached prime sipping temperature, but after a few glasses, you won't care anyway.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Pandell, Alexander J. "How Temperature Affects the Aging of Wine." The Alchemist's Wine Perspective. November 1996. (Feb. 4, 2009)http://www.wineperspective.com/STORAGE%20TEMPERATURE%20&%20AGING.htm
- Peynau, Emile; Blouin, Jacques; and Schuster, Michael. "The Taste of Wine." John Wiley and Sons. 1996. (Feb. 4, 2009)http://books.google.com/books?id=nzehk2Vu5K8C
- Sanderson, Bruce. "Storing and Serving Wine." Wine Spectator. (Feb. 4, 2009)http://www.winespectator.com/Wine/Wine_Basics/Wine_Basics_Template/0,,26,00.html
- "Wine System Manual." skybar. (Feb. 4, 2009)http://www.Skybarhome.com/Manuals/MANUALS/WP1000-000-000_43_44224148.PDF
- "Viniculture." Professional Friends of Wine. (Feb. 4, 2009)http://www.winepros.org/wine101/viniculture.htm