Guide To Storing Open Red Wine

By on October 22, 2013 Texas Wine News
Storing Open Red Wine

It’s rare that I can’t polish off an open bottle of wine. The thought of abandoning the delicious nectar of gods and letting it go to waste is a tragedy beyond compare. Unfortunately, sometimes I’m left with no choice and must store my wine for later. Today I’ll teach you how you can best preserve wine and how long will it last.

Why Open Red Wine Goes Bad

Oxygen turns red wine into vinegar. Thus the key is to reduce the amount of oxygen touching the surface when storing open red wine. There are a few methods used to prolong shelf life, all based on minimizing exposure to oxygen either by replacing or removing the oxygen or reducing the surface area of the wine. With the necessary TLC some red wines can be stored open for up to a week.

Basics After Opening

Re-cork the wine after every glass pour. Keep the open wine bottle out of light and stored under room temperature. In most cases a refrigerator goes a long way to keeping wine fresh longer; even red wines. When stored at colder temperatures the chemical processes slow down, including the process of oxidation that takes place when wine is exposed to oxygen. Wine stored by cork inside the fridge will stay relatively fresh for up to 3-5 days. This is a good start, but I think we can do better!

Freshness Tips

  • For best results, store the wine upright to minimize surface area exposed to oxygen.
  • Prevent dramatic temperature changes which can damage your wine, such as quickly going from cold to hot.
  • You can warm up a red wine bottle in luke warm water. Be careful not to use hot water, it should only be slightly warmer than room temperature.

What to Avoid When Storing Open Red Wine
  • Don’t store open wine on its side – it increases the surface area exposed to oxygen
  • Don’t store open wine by a window – because of sun exposure and discoloration
  • Don’t store the wine at temperatures above 70 F – better to store open wines in the fridge

If you don’t want to buy any wine preserving tools, consider rebottling the wine in a smaller container so that the amount of wine that touches air is reduced.

Which Red Wines Go Bad The Quickest
  • Pinot Noir is one of the most sensitive red wines when exposed to air.
  • Old wine over 8-10 years – Once we drank a 10 year old pinot noir that went bad in 4 hours! PS Shame on you for not finishing a 10 year old bottle!
  • Organic wine or sulfite-free wine are typically more fragile.
  • Light colored red wine varietals including Grenache, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Nebbiolo

Buy an Affordable Wine Preserver

There are a few wine preservation systems available. Most of them don’t work that well, some do more harm than good, and others are just blatant ripoffs. I’ve narrowed it down to two fundamental types: the vacuum pump wine preservation and inert wine gas preservation. Before jumping into which to buy, it’s important to disclose the controversy on vacuum pumps.

Vacuum Pump Controversy

There is some dispute as to the effectiveness of vacuum pump wine preservation. The argument claims that it’s only a partial vacuum, meaning the wine still interacts with oxygen and that by creating a pressure difference you’re extracting aromas from the wine. Proponents cite that this is visually evident by little bubbles that escape from the wine under vacuum. However, I have not seen any scientific evidence that there is a noticeable influence on the flavor or aromas.

On the other hand, there are several manufacturers of industrial wine preservation systems built on the idea of vacuum sealing wine. I’ve worked at a wine bar that made use of such a system and it was my experience that it kept the wine fresh for a longer period of time without any unexpected deterioration. In any case, wine vacuum pumps are not that expensive; I encourage you to try one for yourself and form your own conclusions.

Note on Sparkling Wines

Oh lovely sparkling wine. Did you know that many people prefer day-old Champagne over freshly opened Champagne? Letting the bubbles settle gives the wine a chance to off-gas and cuts the carbonation, rounding out the flavors. (Try it, let me know what you think!) Hopefully, it goes without saying that you shouldn’t vacuum pump sparkling wine. It will suck on your bubbles and leave a terrible void in your soul. Gross.

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