You love pairing the perfect wine with a delicious meal. You savor every sip as you take in the aroma and the atmosphere around you. There is nothing quite like the taste of a freshly opened wine that has been aged to perfection. But what happens if the night is through and there is still some wine left in the bottle? You can’t let it go to waste but are afraid it will lose its flavor and gain an acid undertone if you simply let it sit. The good news is if you take precautions to maintain the sensitive nature of the wine, you can enjoy it for at least a few more days. Here, we’ll share some simple and create ways to preserve wine.
The Science of Wine
In order to understand how to preserve wine, you need to be up-to-date on the science of wine. If you are an avid wine drinker, you know that oxygen is wine’s enemy. Mixing wine with oxygen via an aerator as soon as it is opened can enhance the flavor and mouthfeel of a wine. But if the wine is left open to sit, oxygen will begin to take away the richness of the aroma and the flavors. So, essentially, the goal of making a partially consumed bottle of wine last longer is to prohibit oxygen from getting its molecules into your precious beverage.
Preserve Wine by Eliminating Oxygen
Now that you have been reminded that oxygen is the enemy of a freshly opened bottle of wine, let’s discuss some simple and creative ways to eliminate the oxygen and maintain the integrity of your opened bottle of wine.
Put a Cork in It
This is the simplest option, and perhaps it is also the most obvious; however, you might be surprised to learn how many people forget this step. At the very least, you should put the cork back in the bottle as soon as you are done pouring. If you don’t have a cork, a reusable wine stopper, or one of the wine preserver systems, a small piece of plastic wrap with a rubber band to seal it will suffice.
Keep It Cold
Whether you have a white or red in front of you, you will want to put the bottle in the fridge when you are done with it. Oxygen molecules greatly reduce their speed when they are cold, so when you place the wine in the fridge, you reduce the amount of damage the oxygen is able to cause. Yes, it will feel weird putting your red in the fridge, but when you go to drink it the next day, you will be glad you did. Just pull it out a few hours before you are ready to help it get back to its ideal room temperature.
If you really want to preserve your wine and have it taste like it was freshly opened, you will want to completely eliminate any surface area for oxygen to attach to. The best way to do this is to transfer the wine into a smaller container that perfectly fits the amount of remaining wine. Some options for this are a smaller wine bottle or a mason jar. The key factor here is to make sure the wine goes completely to the top of the container, which usually means a little bit will overflow—that means you did it correctly.
Maintain Cork Level
If you would rather not transfer the wine to a different container, you can achieve the same effect by filling the bottle with an inanimate object to raise the wine to the level of the cork. Sanitized glass marbles are a popular option for this technique because they fit through the neck of the wine bottle with ease.
If you know it’s going to be more than a few days until you are going to be able to relax and enjoy the wine again, you might want to consider freezing it. This halts the oxygen from making any moves until you thaw it. After being frozen, the wine will not taste exactly like it did when you first opened it, but it is still very palatable and better than wasting it. This also a great way to store wine to use for cooking at a later time.
While there is no comparison to the aroma, mouthfeel, and taste of a newly opened bottle of wine, with these tricks, you can extend the life of your wine by several days. That’s something to toast.
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-Photos as credited. Cover photo courtesy Vincent Marottoli, Sr.