Do me a favor! If you?re gonna open a decent bottle of wine, please drink the whole thing. Sometimes wines just don?t make the overnight journey. I feel the sudden urge to simultaneously praise and vilify all the supposed methods of wine preservation.
First and foremost, I?ll go over the evils that destroy wine. Exposure to oxygen, high temperatures or extreme fluctuations in temperature, sunlight and of course snobs! Opening a bottle by yourself creates two problems. The first: questioning the amount of alcohol you can realistically drink; and secondly: what to do with the leftover if you can?t finish it. I know how hard it can be sometimes to finish a bottle of wine by yourself. Well, not really, but here are the best and most common methods to enjoy your wine after it has been opened. Assuming of course, you’re going solo and don’t have any friends to help you out with that special bottle.
We all know the main benefits of refrigeration and it?s fairly obvious to keep opened white wine in the fridge so that it stays fresh. Most people have never heard of keeping their opened reds in the fridge though. It honestly makes a huge difference, albeit you have to be willing to sacrifice a little time for it to warm up. Keeping an opened wine in the fridge slows down the main chemical process that destroys wine, oxidation. It also will make the wine less prone to being converted to vinegar via acetic bacteria.
I once opened a 2000 Dominus, drank a glass of it. After realizing how closed and tight it was, (not showing all its character and fruit), I corked it and put it in the fridge. I left it in there for three days and on the fourth I took it out and brought it to work. It showed amazingly. All the layers of fruit and the seamless texture seemed to appear out of thin air. I had almost chalked up that bottle as a dud too. Patience with wine can be both rewarding and disappointing (if you wait too long!).
I would however recommend keeping a clean 375ml half bottle around. Pouring the wine that you can?t finish into a smaller bottle, presuming it will all fit, and refrigerating it, is the second best way to preserve your leftover wine. With less space in the half bottle for oxygen to seep into you are ensuring the least bit of spoilage. Just pray that you don?t have a power outage!
You might have seen them in your wine store, a supermarket or on the top of wines at a favorite restaurant of yours. These rubber stoppers fit snugly into the top of the bottle and work okay for short term storage. A hand pump then fits over the stopper allowing you to extract all the detrimental oxygen from the bottle. Keep in mind that even though you may have pumped out all the oxygen, a bottle with more wine in it will hold longer than a lesser filled bottle. I?ve found that some people find these pumps to actually destroy some of the more subtle wine qualities, particularly aromas. I can see why too. Wine is a living organism that changes easier than you would think. Pumping all the oxygen out of the bottle may also include drawing out carbon dioxide from its natural involvement as a by-product of the fermentation process. Altering a wine?s chemical balance will most definitely change the way it tastes and smells. This is a great experiment for you to try at home!
This is the best system to preserve wine, however the most expensive as well. Nitrogen is an inert gas that creates a blanket over the wine thus protecting it from the harmful oxygen and oxidation process. When wines are corked or enclosed with a screw cap a shot of nitrogen is sprayed on top of the wine to protect it from that little empty space of air. There are small purple cans of nitrogen that you can buy from your wine shop to use or you could opt for the big tank if you want to get crazy. A lot of wine bars will have Cruvinet systems in place that dispense wine through taps similar to the way beer is dispensed from kegs. This system has a tube that draws the wine out while another tube displaces the newly created space with nitrogen. You?ll notice a big tank on the side of the system if you look. That?s the nitro! Wines using this method of preservation last the longest however I wouldn?t guarantee them for much longer than 3-5 days depending on the age and style of wine.
As I pleaded before don?t open a whole bottle unless you?re gonna finish it that night. If you did you wouldn?t have had to read this whole article. For all of you guys or girls who can?t finish a whole bottle ? I hope I?ve extending the length at which you can enjoy your favorite opened wine.