Wine Tips: How To Store Your Leftover Wine

This article looks at the different methods of preserving an open bottle of leftover wine, including re-corking, using carafes, wine stoppers, pumps, and nitrogen.

The best tip for storing your leftover wine is to not have any. Plan how much wine you will need in advance and plan to open only that amount. That being said, who can plan accurately?

The oxygen in air is wine's enemy, causing oxidation. Oxidation turns wine into vinegar. Wine tasting like vinegar is bad, unless you were planning to use it in salad dressings.

The simplest and least expensive way of saving wine is to simply re-cork it. Make sure that you invert the cork before you try to replace it""the cork will have a better fit upside down. However, this is the most ineffective way to preserve wine. The cork does not seal the opening of the bottle completely, there may be a hole through the cork from a-too-long corkscrew, and cork inherently breathes. Also, keep in mind that no matter what storage method you use, the less wine there is left in the bottle, the more the wine will be in contact with air, and the faster the wine will oxidize. Re-corking might save your wine for two to three days.

Another option is to use carafes with seal-fit stoppers. This may allow you to store smaller amounts of wine without as much exposure to oxygen. The wine must fill up to the bottom of the stopper to prevent oxidation. If anything, keeping wine in a carafe does allow a more attractive presentation when serving "left-over" wine.

The next option is to use a wine stopper. Wine stoppers can be purchased relatively inexpensively at grocery stores, liquor stores, and specialty shops. A wine stopper prevents air from creeping into a bottle. But, it does not let the air already in a bottle to escape. This still allows for oxidation to occur, but not as quickly as a bottle that is re-corked or not corked at all. A wine stopper may hold your wine for three days or so.

Wine stoppers with pumps are available at specialty stores, some liquor stores, and on-line. This is a great way to preserve your wine a little longer. The stopper prevents new air from entering the bottle and the pump removes the old air. Some pumps have additional features, such as letting you know when all of the air inside has been pumped out of the bottle. Your wine may keep up to four days.

Some aficionados suggest buying a system that injects nitrogen into your wine bottles or purchasing bottles of inert gases including nitrogen that can be pumped into your wine as air is forced out. The nitrogen systems are obviously more expensive and reviews on them have been mixed. However, some experts say that "nitrogen-in-a-can" can extend the life of your wine four to five days.

Where should you put your wine until the next time that you want a glass? Any whites and blushes should be kept in the refrigerator at serving temperatures, or about fifty-five to sixty degrees. Some experts suggest keeping reds in the refrigerator as well, remembering to take the wine out before serving time so that it can warm up to room temperature.

The bottom line is that keeping leftover wines drinkable depends on the wine, your taste buds, and your nose. Experiment with your favorite wines. Each one will be different. And remember, you can use wine to cook with for about a week. One pour for the marinade; one sip for you... One pour for the sauce; one sip for you...

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