Once you open a bottle of wine, it can actually improve in flavor over the next few hours as it mixes with the oxygen in the air. However, after a longer period of time, oxygenation will turn the flavor dull. Learn how to keep the remaining wine you don’t drink from an open bottle as fresh as possible.
Method 1: Sealing
1. Cork the bottle: Close a bottle of wine after pouring individual glasses from it. Use the cork that the bottle came with, or a reusable wine stopper.
Re-cork properly by inserting the cork into the bottle in the same direction as when you pulled it out. Avoid putting the “clean” side of the cork into the bottle facing the wine, even if it seems easier to do so, as it may not be clean and could in fact contaminate the wine.
(Image: Best Country Living Magazine 2017)
If you don’t have a cork or stopper available to seal your wine bottle, use a small piece of plastic wrap to cover the mouth of the bottle, then secure with a rubber band
2. Stick a bottle in a chiller or fridge: Put any leftover wine in a bottle into a wine chiller or the refrigerator. Keep most wine for a few days this way.
Note that keeping wine in the refrigerator will not keep it from going bad, but it can slow down the chemical process responsible for making the wine lose its flavor.
3. Avoid heat & light: Keep an opened wine bottle away from direct sunlight and high heat. Favor cool, dark areas or a fridge.
Avoid storage in temperature above 21°C (70°F). Also keep the wine away from a window to prevent heating and discoloration from the sun.
When taking leftover red wine out of storage in the fridge or other cool place, let it warm up gradually. Place the bottle in lukewarm water, or simply bring it out of the fridge about an hour before serving.
Method 2: Removing or Replacing Oxygen from wine
1. Transfer to a half bottle: Pour your leftover wine into a half-size wine bottle and seal. This will reduce the surface area of the wine that’s exposed to oxygen, slowing the aging process.
- Make sure your half bottle of leftover wine is sealed tightly with an appropriate cork, stopper, or screw-top.
- Save empty half bottles, which you can often find when buying dessert wines, and reuse over and over again for this purpose.
- If you don’t have any half bottles on hand, you can use another small glass container that seals tightly.
2. Purchase a Vacuum Pump: Buy a vacuum cap system for wine, which removes the oxygen from inside the bottle. Potentially lengthen the freshness of leftover wine in this way.
Steps to use a vacuum pump. (Image: Amazon)
3. Invest in an inert gas system: Replace the oxygen in an opened bottle of wine with an inert gas, most commonly Argon. You can buy a device for this purpose from wine retailers.
- Try an aerosol spray for an inexpensive option, or a more sophisticated system like the Coravin.
- Invest in this system if you’re a wine connoisseur who frequently needs to keep open bottles, as in a restaurant or other serving setting.
Method 3: Accounting for Different Types of Wine
1. Take extra care of sparkling wine: Avoid attempting to keep sparkling wine for more than one to three days. Put it in the refrigerator and seal it to avoid losing its carbonation.
- Don’t use a vacuum pump on sparkling wine bottles, as it will suck out the carbonation of the wine.
- Some people enjoy day-old sparkling wine like champagne more than when it’s freshly opened, due to the slight decrease in carbonation and rounding out of flavors. However, don’t depend on the flavor remaining after more than 24 hours.
2. Put reds in the fridge, too: Keep opened bottles of red wine, not just white wine, in a wine chiller or the fridge. Just allow leftover red wine to warm back to room temperature before serving.
- Note that dark, rich reds like Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah will generally keep for longer than lighter red varieties like Pinot Noir.
- Aged wine older than eight to ten years, and organic or sulfite-free wines, are also more susceptible to going bad more quickly.
3. Keep long lasting fortified and box wine: Try keeping fortified wine, such as Marsala, Port, or Sherry, for much longer than any other type of wine. You can also buy bag-in-a-box style wine for longer storage.
- Fortified wines can keep for longer due to the addition of brandy, or sugars in the case of dessert wines. Keep them for up to 28 days with a cork in the fridge.
Fortified wine. (Image: The Spruce)
- Keep boxed wine in the fridge and continue drinking from it for two to three weeks. Pay attention to and don’t drink beyond the given expiration date, as it is provided based on regulations for food stored in plastic.
- Another method of keeping any wine for a very long time is to freeze it for use in cooking. Freeze wine into cubes or a block and keep it in the freezer in an airtight container for up to four to six months.