Tasting wine with friends is so much fun! It is a great way to share opinions about wines, learn from each other and assure that you will end up with a long line of empty bottles. However, once in a while we also dine alone and even though a bottle would go well with the meal we might have second thoughts about opening it.
Before I got involved in the wine industry, I often stopped myself from opening a bottle because I was not going to finish it and the wine never tasted well the next day. After wine became my profession, I could not wait for friends to join me to start uncorking bottles and in order to assure the freshness of my opened wines I always rely on these techniques:
Make sure you close the bottle very well and if you use the cork to do so, put the wet part that was originally in contact with the wine inside. Although it is easier to do it with the “clean” and narrow side, it is not recommended since this part has been exposed to odors and residues from the exterior that could easily get inside the wine.
Once wine gets in contact with oxygen it starts to oxidize, loosing aromas and flavors as well as gaining different color profiles; red wines with purple or ruby colors will develop tawny and brownish tones, and white wines will gain deeper colors until reaching amber tones. Storing the bottle inside the fridge will slow this process down and will keep the wine fresh for up to 5 days.
Fortified wines like Port and Sherry are an exception, since these can last for months and even years thanks to the higher alcohol content. Sparkling wines should be consumed within 3 days because they are more delicate and tend to oxidize faster.
Transfer the left over wine into a smaller bottle to reduce the amount of oxygen that gets in contact with the wine. Plastic bottles should not be used since they are porous and can absorb bad aromas from the fridge. Choose a clean and odorless glass bottle that can be properly closed.
On the market we can find a very large variety of accessories meant to preserve wine and among them the Vacuum Pump is one you should have. It is a very affordable tool used to extract parts of the oxygen from inside the bottle. Nevertheless, the wine should still be refrigerated and be consumed within 5 days because some amounts of oxygen remain inside the bottle and oxidation still happens. Yet, the aromas are much better preserved than merely closing the bottle with a cork, for example. It has to be used with special rubber stoppers, which are normally included when you buy the pump.
If you have a higher budget the best tool in the market for preserving wine is called Coravin. With this tool you don’t even have to uncork the bottle and it consists of a needle that goes through the capsule and cork, sucks the wine out of the bottle and introduces Argon gas, avoiding any contact with oxygen. With the Coravin you can enjoy the same bottle of wine for months and some argue even for years. It is very useful for preserving expensive and exclusive bottles that you might not want to finish in one sitting. Moreover, it can be useful to understand how a wine ages inside the bottle over time.
Never stop yourself from uncorking a wine! Get the courage to open the bottle that’s been sitting on your counter for a while now, just waiting for the right company. It’s true that wine tastes better when shared but hopefully with these tips the wine night for one will become a more common activity for you 😉