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The Open Bottle Problem

I used to wonder why anyone would ever have the problem of leftover wine. I mean, who doesn’t finish a bottle between a few friends? Well as I grow up, I’ve been working later hours (what, at a startup?), so in order to make sure I still get my daily wine fix I’ve taken to leaving the rest of the bottle for another few nights.

This week, I’m answering some questions from folks wondering what to do in these very situations:

Cheryl Dial: So Dini, I’ve only discovered the joys of wine in this last year. I’m curious what the proper way to store any un-enjoyed portion of wine. I have a horrible time attempting to get the cork back in, also should it be put back in the refrigerator after?

Three things particularly deteriorate wine over time: heat, light and air. So, when I’ve opened a bottle and want to keep it for more than one day, I stick it in the fridge and do everything I can to expose the wine to the least amount of air. The more wine you’ve drunk from the bottle, the harder the problem.

You can try to vacuum out the air with various gadgets that use a rubber stopper and some kind of pump, and this definitely does help. I prefer to use a product like the VineyardFresh Wine Preserver we’ve offered. This type of device pumps inert gases such as Argon into the bottle and displaces the oxygen leaving a protective layer to keep the wine fresh. That can make my bottles last easily for a week (maybe more, but luckily I’ve never had to find out).

Sonal Bhatia: Hi Dini: When I use a re-sealer (with the air-removing pump), how long can I expect the wine to stay drinkable, and does it depend on the wine?

It definitely does depend on the wine. The air-removing pump will usually keep any wine in a decently fresh stage for one to two nights; more if in the fridge, so call it three nights maximum. However, if the wine is especially big and concentrated it will last longer: up to a week. If it is a cheaper wine and more dilute then probably less. Red wines and dessert wines tend to last the longest, and of course anything fortified like tawny port that is aged with oxidation anyways is particularly resilient.

Mark Suss: If you poured your wine in a decanter and have a decent amount left, is it ok to pour back in the bottle and “re-cork” until the next day or will it no longer be good? Thank you.

Sure, if just one or two days that is fine. It will have been exposed to more oxygen but if it is the type of wine that needs a decanter it should be just fine. I usually keep around some empty half bottles of wine and after cleaning them thoroughly, use them to store bottles half consumed to keep out the air.

Davin Dong: Are there any new or upcoming answers to the age-old question of how to enjoy a single glass of wine without worrying about oxidation? Vacuum, nitrogen, and argon solutions have been out for awhile. Anything new on the horizon? Might we see premium wine in a <gasp!> box?

Yes! There are some really cool devices that I’ve tested recently, but they are still under the radar and top secret. The glass of wine I tasted from a bottle that had been open for a month was incredible! I’ve been told it even works for bottles open for months and even years. Can you imagine how many more bottles of Montrachet I would buy if I could enjoy them over the course of a year (or one night)? Alas, it is pretty far from being ready to release on the market so stay patiently tuned in. For more on boxed wines, check out my post from last week.

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