Storing Leftover Wine


Leftover wine can be kept for several days without it losing much of its flavour, as long as you eliminate the two great enemies of wine: oxygen and heat. If you left a half finished bottle uncorked in a warm room overnight, it will have almost certainly lost its flavour and freshness by the morning. The wine reacts to the air and heat and starts to oxidise, taking on a flat, stale character, and will eventually turn into vinegar.

White wine, kept chilled, will keep well, but a red wine that was opened a day or two ago may no longer be worth drinking. Fortified wines and dessert wines, on the other hand, will last quite a while without much effort.

Simple Solutions

The simplest way of reducing the effects of oxidation is to simply put the cork back in and store the wine in the fridge. If you have two leftover bottles of the same wine, pour the contents of both into one. The fuller the bottle, the longer the wine will last.

Alternatively, you could keep an empty half-bottle of wine to store any leftovers in. The wine will receive less exposure to oxygen in its new smaller home, especially if the half-bottle is filled high into the neck with little or no room between the top of the wine and the bottom of the cork. This will preserve many red wines, especially young ones, for up to two weeks. If you refrigerate the bottle, the wine will last longer. If you have saved a red wine, you will need to remember to remove the wine from the refrigerator 45 minutes before you plan to drink it.

If you use this method, make sure that you thoroughly clean the bottle with hot water and allow it to dry completely in between uses.

Removing the Oxygen

Products are also available to keep leftover wine 'fresh'. These devices either pump out the air in the bottle, or replace the air with inert gases. The goal is to keep oxygen away from leftover wine in the bottle. The Vacu Vin is a small pump that extracts the air from the opened bottle and reseals it with a special reusable rubber stopper. This removes the air and slows down the oxidation process so that you can enjoy your wine for a longer period of time. Most restaurants use the inert gas system; the gas is squirted into the bottle, forming a protective barrier from the air, then the bottle is stoppered. These systems are quite effective and claim to do no damage to even the finest, most delicate wines.

Sparkling Wine

Special bottle-stoppers are available for recorking sparkling wine or Champagne, which can make a good job of retaining the bubbles. A standard wine cork also works, although unless you secure it with the original metal cage from the original bottle (or aluminium foil), it can pop out. When saved properly, sparkling-wine leftovers will keep well for a day or two. Whichever way you recork the bottle, keep the wine well chilled.

Of course, all of this fuss is unnecessary for inexpensive box wine; because the bag is airtight and contracts as the wine is poured, the wine will last in perfect condition for a surprisingly long time.