A Simple and Effective Short-Term Wine Preservation Tip

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

This is a guest post from Todd Broderick, a fellow Boston-area wine enthusiast. I've received multiple E-mails looking for thoughts on how to easily and effectively preserve wine overnight and I think this approach is quite helpful.

So here is my dilemma, I like to drink wine with dinner but we’re having a baby so my wife is not drinking and I am probably not going to kill a bottle myself on a nightly basis. . .so what do I do with the rest of the bottle that I might not consume for a couple of days?

I have sometimes gone with the assumption that I am going to finish off that wonderful cab the next night, only to have it sit on the counter for 3 days with a vacuum stopper and end up barely drinkable. Over the course of the last year I have been on a mission to solve this problem, trying a variety of methods recommended by friends and professionals. My hope is that by sharing these experiences with you, I’ll help you savor just a little bit longer, that great bottle that you opened up on Tuesday night “just because.”

There are so many different ways to go about preserving your wine; you can use the cans of gas that put a protective layer of argon or some other gas in between the wine and the air in the bottle, you can use a special stopper that pulls the air out of the bottle, you can also fridge the leftover portion in hopes of slowing down the oxidation process. I have given most of them a shot and had varying degrees of success. I tried to combine the trial and error research I did with some basic logic and ended up with a pretty good result, that I think you might find helpful. I went under the premise that you want to limit the wines exposure to air and tried to keep the solution simple and inexpensive.

I had an extra half bottle (375ml) lying around and upon opening a new bottle for the night, promptly filled the half bottle, capped it with a vacuum stopper and put it in the fridge. 48 hours later I pulled the bottle from the fridge when I got home to let it warm up. By the time dinner was ready, I was able to give it a few swirls and enjoy a pretty good glass of wine. Here are a few other tips and observations worth noting:

  • Use a funnel to fill the half bottle up as much as possible, but be careful not to use one that aerates the wine as you pour.
  • The type of stopper used has not really made a difference; I have used both a vacuum stopper with pump and a standard one, and have had equally good luck. Here is a $1.95 alternative from Crate & Barrel (also available for $3 at Williams-Sonoma)
  • Two to three days seems to be a relatively safe time frame in my experiences, I’ve gone as long as four and the wine had clearly faded, but was still drinkable.
  • I wouldn’t advocate trying this with a really special bottle of wine that may need some decanting, but for a weekday wine it works well.
  • If you fridge the wine, which I would suggest if you know you are drinking it over 2 plus days, make sure to give it time to warm up.
I like this approach because it is pretty straightforward and did not involving buying any more gear. All you need is the empty half bottle, the funnel and a stopper, pretty easy, right? I’m up for trying other alternatives if anyone has a suggestion, feel free to email me. Until then, this is going to be my preferred method of getting that bottle to last just long enough to enjoy ever last drop!


Want a second opinion? Here's an interesting take from The Shopping Bags (including a freezing technique!)

Question of the Day: What do you think of the half-bottle approach? Have you tried it? Does it work for you?

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