How to preserve an open bottle of wine
Tips, tools and gadgets to make that bottle last a little longer.
You’ve had a long day at work and decide to treat yourself to a delicious weeknight dinner and, of course, a tasty bottle of wine. Drinking the entire bottle in one sitting is unfortunately not an option because it is, after all, a school night. You now find yourself sitting with a partially consumed bottle of wine and you’re worried about it going flat or losing its flavour profile the next day. But worry not!
First things first, it is important to remember that wine is a living and perishable food item and should always be treated gently from birth to consumption, which is why certain precautions should be taken when deciding to preserve your wine.
Factors that contribute to lowering a wine’s shelf life
While it’s usually considered a good thing to expose the wine to air to let it breathe and develop character, it is probably not advisable to introduce too much oxygen to your open bottle of wine as this could lead to oxidation. Oxidation in wine refers to a chemical reaction that occurs when wine comes into contact with air, causing the wine to lose its flavour and colour, and possibly turning into vinegar.
“The manner in which wine is stored ultimately determines the success of wine preservation. When stored correctly, opened bottles of wine can last for three to four days,” says Tinashe Nyamudoka, owner of Kumusha Wines and co-founder of Somm on Call. “To slow the oxidation process, re-corking or re-sealing your wine immediately after each pour is important.”
Wine experts recommend that an opened bottle of wine be kept at low temperatures to preserve the quality and flavours of the wine. Exposing it to any type of heat will affect the chemical compounds of the wine and cause it to break down quickly. Therefore, once it is re-corked and re-sealed, the wine needs to be placed in the fridge as soon as possible. While a wine cooler is a great investment for wine preservation, it is not necessary – a standard kitchen fridge will suffice.
An opened bottle of wine should always be stored in an upright position because this helps reduce the surface area that is exposed to oxygen.
Wine preservation devices and gadgets
- Metal and rubber stopper: This creates a good seal but is only ideal for short-term closure.
- Vacuum pump: A Vacu Vin wine stopper and saver assists in sucking the air out of the bottle and almost creates an airtight seal that, in turn, slows down the oxidation process. This could potentially extend the life span of the open bottle by at least seven more days.
- The Coravin Three Wine Preservation System: This is one of the most popular and expensive wine preservation devices available on the market (usually used by restaurants to try to minimise wastage). “The Coravin Three Wine Preservation System allows wine lovers to extract the wine from the bottle without removing the cork. It has a needle that pierces through the cork, allowing you to pour the wine without any exposure to air. As the wine is being poured through the nozzle, the vacuum inside is then replaced with argon gas so the bottle stays fresh for many months on end,” says Tinashe.
Remember, for red wines, the best way to warm it up is to take it out 30 minutes to an hour before serving it to allow the wine to naturally come to room temperature.