Wine stoppers range from unadorned cork to cork with ornaments on top to stoppers made from other materials such as glass, chrome, wood, ceramic, and stainless steel. All wine stoppers, whether plain or decorative, must seal the wine bottle well to prevent oxidation and spoilage. Good wine stoppers such as vacuum sealing varieties can preserve opened wine and champagne for up to a week or more.
Vacuum wine stoppers work with a vacuum tank that keeps a holding vacuum seal. A vacuum pump is connected to the vacuum tank and the pump lessens the pressure in the vacuum tank to form the seal. A vacuum line and valve connected to a valve head comes into contact with the stopper and bottle. Air is removed from the bottle and the stopper blocks any air from reaching the bottle. Some vacuum wine stoppers let you know when the seal is complete by producing clicking sounds, as too much of a vacuum may actually ruin the wine.
Many types of designer wine stoppers can be found in stores or online and they make excellent gifts. For example, Mikasa makes crystal heart-topped wine stoppers that are perfect for anniversaries and wine stoppers made from patterned Murano glass are colorful and beautiful. Wine stoppers are also available in boxed gift sets and many of these are sleek stainless steel or chrome with or without polished wood accents. Ceramic novelty wine stoppers include Santa Claus and snowman figurines as well as motifs such as golf balls or roses. Pewter-topped wine stoppers are often shaped as grapes or human and animal figurines.
Some decorative wine stoppers include a chain attached from the top of the stopper to a ring that fits around the bottle's neck. Other wine stoppers may have tops shaped into animal heads or geometric shapes. Many acrylic wine stopper tops look like frosted glass and are often in colorful forms such as red hearts, blue dolphins, and gold stars. Some wine stoppers are made completely from metal, while most have cork bases and various materials on the tops.
About 70% of all wine bottles today use cork stoppers. Cork stoppers are considered a good choice environmentally as cork oak trees, grown mainly in Spain and Portugal, need to be harvested in order to survive. Some wine manufacturers have switched to plastic screw caps to save money on importing cork wine stoppers.