How to Save Your Left-Over Wine


Pardon? Left over? I don’t understand…  

All right, in all seriousness, as we go into the holiday season it’s bound to happen, and it’s certainly much better than running out of wine – heaven forbid!

Here’s the good news: Young reds might actually taste better the second day! And, any wine should be OK the next day, unless it was an older vintage. But, who has ever seen a nice old bottle that didn’t empty out rather quickly? And, any wine should be able to hold up for a day or two, so just leave the reds on the counter and stash the whites in the fridge.

Two days is usually fine, three days is iffy – the wine may seem kind of lack-luster. And, longer than three it can even start to get kind of wierd.FYI, if it spoils it doesn’t hurt you.

It seems like people always propose cooking with it. Taste it first! If you spent time and effort buying high-quality ingredients you don’t want to spoil the dish by adding wine that’s gone off. And, cooking concentrates the flavors so… 

So you can’t drink it in the next few days? There are a few things you can do to prolong its life. the goal is to get rid of the head space. The  oxygen is what does the damage to open wine.

#1: Move the wine to a smaller bottle. If it’s full to the top, it will probably be fine if you drink it in the next several days. I keep half bottles and beer bottles on hand for this purpose. You can refrigerate it, even if it’s red, and just let it warm to the mid 50s or 60s when you’re ready to indulge. You can just shave down the cork if it’s too big for the opening. 

#2: Gas it! You can buy a can of inert gas. It displaces the oxygen in the head space and it’s harmless. Wineries use the same nitrogen or argon gas (Private Preserve is the best known brand – it’s a mixture of them) to fill up the head space in their storage tanks. Most wine shops sell it. The can says it will preserve the wine for weeks, even months! That seems overly optimistic to me, but nothing has ever had the chance to last that long in my house. Who knows?  

#3: This is a little more controversial, but the great thing about it is you only have to buy it once. Get a vacuum pump at your local wine shop. It pumps the oxygen out of the head space and it includes a stopper to seal the bottle.  Some people think they’re great. Others say it doesn’t work. My theory is that if you use it properly it should be just fine for up to a week. 

Any other favorite methods out there? Happy holidays and indulge responsibly 🙂

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