As you may have noticed, wine loses its flavor when the bottle is opened. Yes, a little bit of air does improve the aroma and taste, but too much oxygenation causes the flavor to dull. Fortunately there are ways to prevent this from happening.
How to Store and Seal Wine
One method is to use the same cork that came with the wine, or you can use a wine stopper. Make sure to insert the cork in the same direction when you first took it out. Do not use the “clean” face of the cork. It may look cleaner but there’s the chance it might be contaminated. If you no longer have the cork or a stopper, get a small plastic to wrap over the bottle’s mouth. Wrap the plastic as tight as you can and use a rubber band to secure it.
Put the Bottle in a Fridge or Chiller
If there’s wine left over, just put in the fridge or a wine chiller. Do not set the wine on its side horizontally whether in the fridge or a rack to prevent greater oxygen exposure. Keep in mind that storing wine in the fridge can’t prevent the wine from losing flavor. However it’s going to slow the process down long enough for you to consume it.
Light and Heat
Keep wine from high heat and direct light, especially if the bottle’s been opened. Store the wine in your fridge or anywhere that is cool and dark. For the best results, store leftover wine under 70 F, and keep the bottle away from windows to avoid sun discoloration.
Once you’re ready to drink the red wine, take it out of the chiller and let it warm up. Allow it to reach room temperature by leaving it on the table. You can also place the bottle in a container of warm water and it’ll warm the bottle up too. Both methods should take no more than an hour.
How to Replace or Remove Wine Oxygen
There are three methods that you can use, a vacuum pump, using a bottle or an inert glass system.
- Half Bottle Method: get a half sized wine bottle and pour the wine in it. Seal the bottle tightly, and that should limit oxygen exposure. This will slow the aging process down and increase its lifespan.
Make certain the half bottle of leftover wine is tightly sealed with a screw help, stopper or cork. Dessert wines make for good half bottles, and they’re reusable too. If there are no half bottles nearby, a tightly sealed glass container will suffice.
- Vacuum Wine System: a wine vacuum cap system gets rid of the oxygen in the bottle, and this can prolong the freshness of wine. If you end up with lots of leftover wine, a vacuum cap system is a good investment. It’s particularly useful if you have Viognier or Chardonnay as they’re prone to oxygenation. The efficiency of vacuum varies from product to product, so do some research first.
- Inert Gas System: you can use an inert gas system to replace the oxygen, usually argon and these are available in wine stores. Alternatively you can use an aerosol spray, but if you have to keep wine bottles open, i.e. running a restaurant, get a quality system.
How to Care for Sparkling Wine
Sparkling wine needs extra care. Even the best ones don’t last long and should be consumed one to two days after it is opened. If you have to store some, keep it in the fridge and seal tightly to prevent carbonation loss. Do not use a vacuum pump because it’s going to remove all the carbonation.
You will come across people who like their sparkling wine a day old as the carbonation level goes down, and the carbonation reduction might also help round out the flavors. Even so you should not consume it if more than 48 hours has passed.
Leftover red wine should be stored in the fridge or a wine chiller. When wine – red or white – has been opened, you have to use a cork or pour the liquid in a container and seal it tightly. When it’s time to consume the wine, take the bottle out of the fridge and let it heat up for several minutes.
Lifespan of opened red wine varies, but usually dark reds such as Petite Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon last longer compared to Pinot Noir and other light reds. Wine older than 8 years, sulfate free or organic have a shorter lifespan and have to be consumed as soon as possible. Nebbiolo, Zinfandel, Sangiovese and Grenache are varieties of light red wine and don’t last as long as the deep reds.
Box and Fortified Wine
Fortified wines like sherry, Marsala and port have a longer lifespan than other types. There are also bag in box wines that you can keep for longer periods. Because they have sugar, brandy and other additives, fortified wine can last up to 28 days provided you use a cork.
For boxed wine the best option is to put it in the fridge where you can keep it up to three weeks. Do not drink the wine after the expiration date, which should be on the bottle.
Exposed to too much air, red wine will turn to vinegar, so put the cork on after each pour you do. Next keep the bottle, open or not, out of sunlight and heat. Some people prefer to use a chiller while others opt for the fridge. Either way, cold storage should keep the wine fresh.
There are a lot of wine preservation tools available and you can buy these online. If you don’t want to buy any, the best recourse is what we mentioned before, pour the wine into another bottle.
In an ideal situation a bottle of wine should be consumed immediately after it is opened, but sometimes that just isn’t possible. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything as far as preserving flavors is concerned. Using any of the methods above, that leftover wine should still taste good.