7 Tips for Extending the Life of Your Opened Wine Bottles
It’s a Tuesday Netflix night, one glass of wine would be nice, but opening a fresh bottle seems like a waste, as there’s a real chance it’ll not be the same the following day. No worries, there are loads of options to address this problem. Better still, some are effective and cost little or nothing.
If you leave a halved apple on your countertop overnight, it’ll brown and won’t be nearly as fresh by morning. This is similar to what happens to your opened wine from one day to the next. Simply put, this is oxygen doing its thing, it’s the catalyst for oxidation. With wine, some oxygen can be a good thing, but too much and your opened bottle will eventually go flat and lifeless.
No matter which solution you opt for, there are some constant truths. Reducing the exposure to oxygen is critical. Minimizing the exposed surface area will extend the wine’s life, store opened bottles upright. Cool storage temps will reduce the level of oxygen absorption into the wine. The volume of the remaining wine will also matter. The greater the volume, the longer you can extend its life.
Options to consider:
1) Choose the right wine, some wines benefit from a hefty dose of oxygen. Certain grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah or Petit Verdot can actually drink better on the second day. As general rules, reds will hold up better than whites, as do younger versus older wines. Lightweight wines tend to be more impacted by exposure to oxygen versus bigger, bolder wines. Sparkling and fortified wines require a completely separate conversation.
2) Smaller bottles, like an empty 375ml can help. Fill the smaller bottle into the neck, put the closure on tightly. Drawback, the wine is no longer in the original bottle and it only works when you have half of a standard (750ml) bottle remaining.
3) Inert gas (like Private Preserve) is a great option. Made from tasteless and odorless food grade gas with a good dose of Argon. It’s heavier than oxygen, forming a protective layer over the wine’s surface. Wineries commonly use something similar during the bottling process. Drawback, if using it from a spray cannister, insert the spray straw just above, not under the surface level of the wine or you could be cleaning wine off of your ceiling. That advice comes from personal experience.
4) Vacuum pumps of all sorts have been around for a few decades, a few pumps with a specially designed stopper will suck out the oxygen in the bottle. Drawback, the rubber seals tend to allow an ingress of air. And, I’m convinced it compromises the wine’s aroma, but it’s a decent short-term fix.
5) Floating wine disks was something that I first encountered in Australia. It’s a flexible, lightweight disk that is inserted into the bottle. It floats on the surface of the wine creating a protective barrier. As the wine is poured, the disk resettles on the surface, until the bottle is empty. Drawback, it’s not one size fits all.
6) Tiny food grade marbles are an ingenious idea that I saw in Chile. The marbles are dropped into a bottle until the fill level is raised into the neck, then the closure is put into place. When the wine is completely gone, dump the marbles into a colander and rinse. Drawback, pouring the wine can be tricky and clean-up is a pain.
7) Coravin is perfect for ultra-premium and well-aged wines. Drawback, it’s expensive and it will eventually need replacement parts.
Sometimes, keeping an open bottle for a day is no big deal, beyond day two is usually another story. That said, when next Tuesday night comes along and it’s time for another episode of Black Mirror, you’ll now be better prepared if you want to enjoy a glass of wine.