How To Preserve an Open Bottle of Wine

Wine bottles with glass and corks

After a dinner party, you may find yourself not knowing what to do with one or more open bottles of wine.  Unfortunately, air is both the friend and the foe of wine.  The first contact of wine with air allows the wine to breathe, releasing its aroma.  Unfortunately, as time passes, the wine begins to oxidize turning the intoxicating beverage into vinegar.

You can preserve wine several ways so that it doesn’t go to waste.  Some simply re-cork the bottles while others use preservative gas and vacuum pumps to make the wine last longer.  Decanting is another way of preserving the wine.

Here are a few ways that you can preserve an open bottle of wine.

  1. Re-cork the wine bottle and place it in the refrigerator.  Heat causes the oxidation process to accelerate.  To slow this down, place the re-corked bottle in the ref.  This will keep the wine for a few days.  The cork can be reused as long as you have not broken or damaged it.  Instead of using the original cork, you can buy plastic bottle stoppers. 
  2. Use a vacuum pump and wine stopper.  The wine stopper can keep the wine longer.  Wine stoppers with vacuum pumps can be purchased from wine stores or the kitchenware section of home stores.  Vacu Vin is one popular brand. Insert the stopper into the neck of the wine bottle.   Take out the air from the bottle by using the vacuum pump.  As all the air is sucked, the stopper seals making the bottle airtight.  This will allow you to keep the wine for an indefinite period of time especially when kept in the refrigerator.
  3. Spray preservative gas (inert gas) into the open wine bottle.  Air is forced out when gas is sprayed into the bottle.  Make sure to replace the cork as soon as you are done spraying then place the bottle in the refrigerator.  Preservative gas that comes in canisters can be found in wine stores.  Private Preserve and Winelife are two brands of preservative gas.
  4. Decant the wine by transferring the remaining wine into a smaller bottle.   In a smaller bottle, there will be less air that will come in contact with the wine. As in the previous methods, refrigerate the bottle.

Tip:  Never store a previously opened wine bottle on its side.  Unopened bottles of wine are stored lying down to preserve the cork.  But once opened, this is unnecessary.  In fact, you want to reduce the wine’s exposure to more air in the bottle.  Placing the wine in the refrigerator slows down oxidation.  This is usually good for white wine but affects the flavor of reds.  Bring out the red wine 3-4 hours before you plan to drink it to improve the taste.

Wine experts have their own opinions on which methods of preservation are the best.  You can do further research on the internet (Better Tasting Wine is one site worth visiting) or ask your local wine retailer.  If you know a certified sommelier or wine steward, why not ask for his professional opinion.

Once the wine has oxidized, it turns into vinegar and thus loses its original flavor.  There is no need to waste a good bottle of wine.  Use the wine for cooking!  It will definitely add a distinct taste to your culinary creations.


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