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!

Cheers,
Todd

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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