Wine has quite a few enemies – light and heat amongst them. But exposure to oxygen is the greatest threat it faces.
Oxygen turns wine into vinegar. So when considering how to preserve wine, it’s key to make sure that your wine is protected from exposure to the air as much as possible. A good start is remembering to close the bottle after each pour, but this doesn’t really go far enough.
1/ Store opened wine bottles in an upright position
Once opened all wine bottles (whether screwcap or cork) should be stored in an upright position to reduce the surface area exposed to oxygen.
2/ Keep your wine in the fridge
Because they’re usually best enjoyed chilled, putting opened white wines in the fridge feels instinctive. When it comes to red wine, because its characteristics are better expressed in warmer temperatures, any form of chilling might seem like a faux pas.
But you shouldn’t be afraid of storing opened red wine in the fridge. Cooler temperatures slow down chemical processes, including oxidation. A re-closed bottle of red or white wine in the fridge can stay relatively fresh for up to four days.
Some light-bodied reds can actually be very enjoyable while served slightly chilled.
3/ Use a wine preservation system
If you don’t mind paying, a professional wine preserver can help you keep your wine fresh for even longer. Although there are many gadgets and devices available, two wine preservation systems seem to be the most popular and effective.
Vacuum pumps suck the air out of an opened bottle so it can be re-sealed hermetically without the oxygen affecting the wine. This is an affordable option commonly used in restaurants and bars.
Vacu Vin is the best-known brand – this company invented the vacuum pump wine preservation system. They promise up to two weeks extra life for an opened bottle of wine.
Inert wine gas preservation systems can keep your opened wine fresh for even longer, but this is usually more of an enthusiast option since they can be quite expensive. This system is based on inserting an inert gas – usually argon – into the bottle. This gas, being heavier than oxygen, creates a protective layer on the surface of the wine.
The best-known brand is Coravin. This brand offers a device with a needle which punctures a hole in the cork to extract wine without pulling the cork out thus avoiding any contact with oxygen. The wine is then replaced with argon gas and the cork naturally re-seals as if the bottle had never been opened.
There is also an option for screwcap wines that, according to Coravin, can keep wine fresh for up three months.
A more affordable solution is a gas canister system, such as Private Preserve. This works in a similar way to Coravin. You insert a mixture of gas into the bottle to protect the wine from oxygen. With this system, you have to uncork the bottle and use the gas when re-sealing it, so there will be some exposure to oxygen.
Private Preserve promises that the wine will last “for months and even years”.
4/ Take advantage of smaller bottles
Wine bottles come in at least twelve different sizes. If you don’t want to invest in an expensive wine preservation system, you could consider decanting your left-over wines into smaller bottles and keep them in the fridge under screwcap. There’s less room for air in small bottles so less exposure to oxygen.
Alternatively, you can simply buy your wine in smaller sizes. Although half bottles or splits are less frequently available in supermarkets, you can easily buy them online.
5/ Use a sparkling wine stopper
Direct light is dangerous for all wines and they should always be stored in the dark. Strong light can damage a wine’s flavours and aromas and lead to discolouration. Sparkling wines are particularly susceptible to the negative effects of light. That’s why you’ll find Champagnes or Cavas nearly always sold in dark bottles.
Wine preservation systems, unfortunately, do not work for sparkling wines. Inert gas-based systems are only suitable for still wines, while the vacuum pumps will suck out the bubbles, leaving the wine flat.If you want to keep a sparkling wine fresh, your best bet is a Sprkling Wine stopper. They are inexpensive and can keep your bubbles going for up to five days. Traditional method sparkling wines like Champagne and Cava will last longer than tank method wines like Prosecco. Don’t be tempted to put a teaspoon in the neck of your bottle – this is proven to be ineffective.
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