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Wine Savers

Published May 2014
Update: July 2014
Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled Coravin Wine Access System and contact Coravin for a free repair kit that includes a neoprene wine bottle sleeve to contain broken glass when a bottle breaks, along with updated instructions and warnings. The wine access system should not be used on wine bottles with damages or flaws. For more information, please call Coravin customer service at 1-855-692-6728 or visit coravin.com/support. Even though the company has added this protective measure to the Coravin system, the risk of breaking a bottle of expensive wine with this costly device still exists, and we feel we can no longer recommend the product. The Air Cork, our previous runner-up, is our new winner.

How we tested

For years we’ve preserved open bottles of wine either by using the Vacu Vin Wine Saver, an inexpensive ($9.29) pair of rubber stoppers with a pump that sucks the air out of the bottle, or by pouring leftover wine into a smaller bottle or Mason jar to stave off oxidation. But innovative new gadgets promise to keep wine drinkable longer. We tested six tools, including the Vacu Vin, on half-empty bottles of red and white wine, comparing and evaluating the wines’ flavors and drinkability at various time intervals.

Three models were either ineffective or fussy or both. Our old favorite worked reliably and kept wine drinkable for a week, but two new models bested it. As of press time, these two models had kept wine drinkable for one month. (We’ll continue to taste and report, so check our website for updates.) By inserting one model's sharp, hollow needle through the cork—we never had to uncork the bottle—we could pour just the amount of wine that we wanted while activating a pressurized capsule that simultaneously fed argon (an inert gas) into the bottle to displace the tapped wine. Not even our trained wine expert could say which was fresher: a month-old bottle sealed by this product or a freshly opened bottle of the same vintage. Another, cheaper product is a worthy Best Buy: It forms a barricade against air when its balloon is lowered into the bottle and inflated just above the surface of the leftover wine. On the downside, it’s slightly finicky and can be used on only one bottle at a time.

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.

$248.64*
Recommended

Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.

$141.90*

Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

$67.99*
Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

$49.93*
Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.

$129.95*

Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.

$99.95*

Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.

$24.99*

Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.

$35.88*