Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Preserving Wine While Camping


Busboy
 Share

Recommended Posts

So, a bunch of us who are in fact old enough to know better are heading to Tennessee for Bonnaroo, a three-day party featuring with what we hope will be a compelling mix of geezer acts in fine form (Dylan, the Dead, etc.) and a bunch of younger bands that will allow us to pretend we're hip for listening too. As eGulleters, we're committed to hearing "The String Cheese Incident's" set. Anyway, it's camping. And no glass is allowed on the site.

Given our advanced age and refined palates, canned beer just isn't going to cut it for those 2AM post-set wind-downs. And I have yet to find a box wine that won't be even more of a bummer to drink than that brown acid was to eat. So, any suggestions on how we can keep a few (ok, lots and lots) bottles of mid-range red and white wine drinkable for three days?

Our first thoughts:

High alcohol reds. Port keeps, right? So the closer we get to 18%, the better off we are. Cali Zin anyone?

Freeze it in plastic bottles. We have done this with leftover wine in their original bottles, and it compares very favorably to recorking and refridgerating -- even with that vacuum pump, especially after 24 hours, and with reds. We can just stick them in a cooler and drink them as they melt.

Filling air-tight plastic bottles to the top and sealing them. I mean, when Chateau Mouton sends a guy around to recork you 66's, that couple of seconds of air doesn't turn the bottle bad, right? And then he tops the bottle off to prevent further oxidation, recorks it and you're good for another decade. And, as Randall Graham keeps telling us, an airtight screwtop is as good as a cork. So why not give it a go?

Anyway, if anyone has any comments or suggestions (or the name of drinkable box wine), we'd appreciate it.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Man-o-man, do I ever have the PERFECT solution for you. Similar to your Plastic Bottle solution, only one step better:

I learned this from a man I was great friends with. He used to do major amounts of sailing on his boat (by major, I mean weeks and weeks at a time). But he had the same problem with storage that you have with glass.

His solution is brilliant. He would buy a box of crappy wine and empty it out. He would then carefully wash out the bag with very hot water. Then we would decant five bottles of his favorite wine (I believe is was a FAY Stag's Leap) and refill the bag.

It wasn't perfect, but it was a far sight better because the bag would deflate along with the wine, so there was surprisingly little oxydation (which you would get with your plastic bottles).

What'cha think?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wouldn't worry about oxidation after opening -- once a liter of wine gets open at my house (much less a music festival) the odds of it oxidizing before it goes bad are measurable, but very, very long. :laugh:

NEVERTHELESS, that sounds like a great idea. Do you know how he got the water and the wine back into the box, though?

And I know just the crew to help me empty it out... (how come there's no "sly" smiley for when you're plotting something?)

Edited by Busboy (log)

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wouldn't worry about oxidation after opening -- once a liter of wine gets open at my house (much less a music festival) the odds of it oxidizing before it goes bad are measurable, but very, very long. :laugh:

NEVERTHELESS, that sounds like a great idea. Do you know how he got the water and the wine back into the box, though?

I think he bought a brand that had an easily-removable spout...

Can't tell you much beyond that, though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

His solution is brilliant. He would buy a box of crappy wine and empty it out. He would then carefully wash out the bag with very hot water. Then we would decant five bottles of his favorite wine (I believe is was a FAY Stag's Leap) and refill the bag.

It wasn't perfect, but it was a far sight better because the bag would deflate along with the wine, so there was surprisingly little oxydation (which you would get with your plastic bottles).

What'cha think?

Yep. This is the ticket. Have done it and it works well.

Another source for mylar bags with pour spouts is Starbucks. They sell coffee in mylar bags (~2L?) supported by boxes (at least they did last summer). They cost about 14 bucks (full).

I have also taken decent red wines in Nalgene bottles when going wilderness camping. If you leave them sealed until you drink them they last a few days. They are fairly expensive to purchase.

I noticed a box of australian red wine in a 3L box last week when I was at the liquor store. The notes from the staff were something along the lines of 'best boxed wine yet'. I can't vouch for it but it sounds promising. Might be worth a shot to purchase and if it is not great, have a sangria party before you leave to give it away to friends.

Stephen Bunge

St Paul, MN

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ahhhhhhhhh. I was worried that I was going to have to try to use a turkey baster to force the wine back into the box 20 cc's at a time.

I wonder if Starbucks will sell the boxes without coffee. Surprisingly enough, there's one (OK, three) right here in the neighborhood.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As an aside you want to allow plenty of time to get there. For the last 2 years the traffic was horrendous. An hour or two stuck on the interstate to get into the site. They promise to have a better system this year with the right lane and shoulder for event traffic only.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is a product that I have used on camping trips for the same purpose.

Here

Thanks. We were planning an REI expedition this weekend. We'll keep an eye out.

I've heard about the traffic mess. Our travel plans are limited by work and kids, but our basic goal is: leave as early in the week as possible. Fortunately, my boss is coming, too.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Busboy, while at REI just buy some camelbacks . You can strap 1.5 L to your back and have a handy-dandy, no-drip, sippy-hose you can clip right to your shirt collar so there will be no fumbling around as the drinking, oops, the evening, progresses... :laugh::laugh::laugh:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Busboy, while at REI just buy some camelbacks . You can strap 1.5 L to your back and have a handy-dandy, no-drip, sippy-hose you can clip right to your shirt collar so there will be no fumbling around as the drinking, oops, the evening, progresses... :laugh::laugh::laugh:

I love it! I need one of those....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Only a liter and a half? I'll have to spend $90 on the things just to carry enough wine for the weekend. :laugh:

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd probably skip the wine and go straight for the hard stuff, but I'm lazy. :laugh: Good luck finding a solution. We will be camping in August, so if you find something that works please pass it along.

And don't miss Camper Van Beethoven.

Edited by hjshorter (log)

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Busboy, while at REI just buy some camelbacks . You can strap 1.5 L to your back and have a handy-dandy, no-drip, sippy-hose you can clip right to your shirt collar so there will be no fumbling around as the drinking, oops, the evening, progresses... :laugh::laugh::laugh:

D'Oh. I have one of those and it never even dawned on me that it is nearly perfect for wine! New experiment for my next trip.

Stephen Bunge

St Paul, MN

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd probably skip the wine and go straight for the hard stuff, but I'm lazy.  :laugh:  Good luck finding a solution.  We will be camping in August, so if you find something that worls please pass it along.

And don't miss Camper Van Beethoven.

If I get into the hard stuff, it's all over.

And Camper's definitely on the list. I've even asked Mrs. Busboy to be my beloved revolutionary sweetheart.

Edited by Busboy (log)

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

D'oh! :wacko: What was I thinking!

Only a liter and a half?  I'll have to spend $90 on the things just to carry enough wine for the weekend.

And that would be only wine for you, right? :wink:

Okay, here is one that holds 4 L and still has the oh-so-convenient sippy-straw (but you need to provide your own pack).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There's another possibility: Wine in a can. I just received my monthly email newsletter from the Boulder Wine Merchant, and they actually have a Recommendation for:

Wine in a Can???

2002 Chardonnay (or Cabernet/Shiraz) Aussie Wine

$11.96/4-pack /case    $2.99/250ml can/btl.

The evolution of wine packaging continues. Actually, wine-in-a-can has been around for decades. Can-making technology long ago reached a level that provides easy, convenient storage of fluids without tainting the taste. No, the problem with past wine-in-a-can efforts has not been the packaging, it has been the quality of the wine that is packaged. No previous product has offered up more than the lowest common denominator of wine – a plonky, characterless beverage that tries to cover its inherent flaws with excessive sugar. There was no good reason for anyone to drink that stuff from any sort of vessel, be it bottle, can, amphora or goatskin.

Thus, we approached this new wine-in-a-can venture with considerable skepticism. Once we tasted the wines, though, we were fans of this new product.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As another Bonnaroo attendee, I too was dismayed by the no bottle decree. Another beer option is mini-kegs--plenty of reputable brews can be had thus. Also, has anyone tried Delicato's new boxed wine? It's only available in a handful of markets, it's probably terrible, but they seem to be aiming higher than Franzia. And then there's that Black Box Chardonnay that was very well-received in California a year or two ago, but I don't know if it's still available or available in other states.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I guess the no-bottle rule makes sense in that kind of setting from an aesthetic, future use and liability standpoint -- 90,000 people on the three-day part, half in bare feet could make for some ugly problems. But it is a pain.

I think we're going to be experimenting this weekend, we'll post anything that seems particularly effective and cost effective. And if you see a couple of yuppies next to a blue Jeep, trying to make bernaise on a camp stove and swilling Zinfandel from a tin cup, that's us -- come say "howdy."

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for all of the suggestions. Had we known that the "no glass of any kind" prohibition would be as laxly enforced as those aginst illegal drugs and public nudity, we would not have worried. We would, however, have arranged to stay for all three days.

In the spirit of restless experimentation we tried several approaches which might be used for future adventures during which normal wine bottles are discouraged; each of them yielded fine results.

My wife drained one of those huge refridgerator water containers -- the (5 gallon?)rectangular solids with the pull-tap made for setting on a refridgerator shelf -- filled it with cheap white (but better than wine-in-a-box) swill and froze it. In an RV cooler it melted gradually, yielding white wine slushies for three days. It was hitting for distance, rather than average, but it worked.

I bought the wine-in-a-box, thinking that maybe it wouldn't suck, as it was a "premium" Aussie Shiraz. But it did suck, so I worked the stopper out a la Ms. Tillie's friend, rinsed, and refilled with a Cote du Nimes rose. By day four, the wine had crapped out, but it kept us in good pink lunch/afternoon heat wine for a couple of days, and the hippie sweetheart, who helped me drink it out of airport coffee shop cups as we waited for the shuttle from the Nashville airport to the site, was impressed.

I also drank a couple of 1.5 L bottles of Evian -- chosen for the air-tightness of their seal -- in advance, and filled them to the very top before resealing. This, too, kept the wine fresh for a couple of days, particularly the 14.5% Aussie Syrah, though the stuff went downhill once the seal was broken again.

My other friend just smuggled in some Brunello de Montalcio in the bottle. It didn't necessarily hold its taste better than the other techniques, but it was a damn site easier to do.

In other bonnaroo news, the local venders seem to have taken a cue from the Spaniards and DC's own Cafe Atlantico Mini-bar: in addition to veggie burritos, the chief treat for sale was a daring combination of chocolate and hand-gathered, organic mushroooms (chanterelles? they didn't say) called "nuggets" and variously described as "tasty" or "dank." I didn't have the opportunity to try them, but we did have the best corn dogs of our lives, and the lady behind the counter said that rock festival crowds are definitely easier to handle than those at county fairs, which made me feel good about my tribe.

Finally, the Dead are playing better than have since the mid-80's; people who regret not having caught The Alllman Brothers Live At Fillmore East should check out the North Mississippi All-Stars; and I missed Camper van Beethoven, dammit.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, one of my traveling companions made the same point about the dubious nature of various Bonnaroo prohibitions and we were well-stocked with bottles of Beck's and Red Seal, as well as complementary cans of Bud. And some plastic bottles of Evan Williams just in case. A hell of a trip.

Oh, and my understanding, on very good authority, is that "dank nuggets" are an herbal rather than mycological delicacy. I wrote a little more about my trip here.

Cheers,

Aaron

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...