From the moment you open the bottle, the clock is ticking. Oxygen is a welcome addition to a glass of wine; swirling effortlessly to unlock the aromas and flavors within. But the same isn’t true for the wine left in the bottle. Too much prolonged exposure to oxygen turns wine into vinegar. And if you mix that with wine’s other enemies – light and heat – you’ve pretty much guaranteed that the glass you pour a few days later will be an unpleasant experience.
Yes, there are preservation devices to ensure your first glass is as good as your last, but they don’t come cheap. For those budget-friendly drinkers, here are a few tips to help prolong the life of your juice without breaking the budget.
- Put A Cork In It
If you’re not going to finish a bottle (but don’t know how many glasses you’ll drink) remember to recork after each pour. While it won’t save your wine from the oxygen trapped in the bottle, it’ll keep fresh oxygen from coming in.
- Re-Cork It Right
While the clean side may be easier to fit in the bottle, resist. The stained side has already been exposed to the wine, so you know what you’re getting. That “clean” side may not be so clean, and it could leave an unpleasant taste in a few days.
- Stand Tall
Once wine has been exposed to oxygen, the name of the game is to minimize exposure. Storing wine upright minimizes the surface area touching the oxygen and thus preserves the wine better then if you laid it on its side.
Next time you buy wine, find a half bottle with a screw cap. Once you’ve drank the vino within, wash and save the bottle for future use. Next time you have leftovers from a standard bottle, use a funnel and pour in the remaining vino. Even if there’s a little air at the top, it’s far less exposure than in a regular bottle.
- Half Bottles Exist For A Reason
Speaking of half bottles, if you know you’re drinking alone or planning to drink a single glass with a friend, opt for the half bottle. This alleviates the stress of preserving altogether!
- Refrigerate It
You don’t leave leftover grape juice sitting on the counter, so why do it with wine? The cool temperature won’t stop exposed wine from breaking down, but it will slow the process significantly. Wine stored by cork inside the fridge will stay relatively fresh for up to 3-5 days. This goes for red wine too. You can always warm up a red wine in lukewarm water when you’re ready to serve again.
- When All Else Fails, Get A Budget Preservation System
If you don’t have hundreds of dollars to spend on a wine preservation system, there are still budget-friendly options available. My favorite is the Vacu Vin wine saver ($12). While it’s not the perfect preservation system, it’s great for everyday drinkers. I’ve tested open wines stored in the fridge for over a week that still tasted fresh. But be sure not to use a vacuum pump on sparkling wines. It’ll suck out your bubbles and leave a terrible, flat taste. To preserve Champagne and other sparkling wines, you need a stopper. They’re super easy to use and cheap. Here’s my favorite champagne stopper ($12).
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