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Snooth User: JeradHarski

A tip for storing leftover wine

Posted by JeradHarski, Sep 5, 2009.

If you're like me and are the sole drinker of your household, you hardly want to polish off a whole bottle by yourself each night. Here's a way to store your leftovers

Step 1: Buy and drink a Half-Bottle wine, like a dessert wine of some kind. They're typically 375 ml, and are better for storing opened wine because there is less room for oxygen contact in a smaller bottle.
Step 2: Thoroughly rinse out the bottle, and soak it in soapy water for half an hour to remove the label cleanly. Let it dry.
Step 3: Cut a piece of white printer paper to size and wrap it around the bottle, scotch taping it into place. Wrap celophane around the bottle, on top of the white paper.
Step 4: Immediately after opening your fill sized bottle of wine, pour half of it into the half-bottle, using a funnel so as not to spill. With a dry erase marker, write the name or type of wine on the bottle, and the date you opened it so you'll remember to drink it before it goes bad. When you're done with the wine inside, simply wipe off the dry erase marker and do it all over again.

Keep in mind that low temperatures slow any biological process, so you can store the half-bottle in the refridgerator until about a half hour before you're ready to drink it. Some people don't like the fridge idea, so do what you think is best for your wine.
This process should add a day or two to your opened wine's life span, before it goes bad.

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Reply by schellbe, Sep 6, 2009.

Another alternative to to buy dry wines in half-bottles. Dry wines, as well as dessert wines, are available in half-bottles, but you have to look for them, and find some you like. Bug your merchant about this, or find one who carries a good selection of half-bottles.

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Sep 6, 2009.

Excellent tip Jared,

This has been my MO for years. I think I have three halves in the fridge right now.

In my experience I have had no problem keeping these wines for weeks without any apparent development of the wine.

Reply by lingprof, Sep 7, 2009.

Hey there, GDP. I saw your original post on this, and have a quick question. Is the idea that you fill it up to the very top edge so there's no air? And what type of closure do you use? Do you think a screwcap would be better than a cork-type top? Thanks!!

Reply by dmcker, Sep 7, 2009.

A cork you know to be clean would be better than a screw top, or rubber stopper, *especially* if the bottle will end up on its side at any point. The jury is still out on how coatings on screwcaps affect wine, and rubber is, of course, a no-no for wine contact. Problem with corks is that if you store the bottle standing in the fridge they may dry out relatively quickly, thus shortening the length of time your wine remains healthy. Moral of the story is to drink up the 'remainders' as quickly as possible, I suppose. Personally, I will store the bottles standing if I know I'll be drinking them in a day or two. Otherwise on their side, but even then I won't want to keep them as long as Greg, but would think a week or less. Longer than that and I've noticed definite dropoffs in aromatics and flavor.

I've used the technique described here, a vacuuvin pump, and inert gas. All of them have roughly the same time window in my experience. Certainly best of all is to finish the bottle at the sitting that it's opened for, or within a few hours after...

Reply by Eric Guido, Sep 7, 2009.

Hey dmcker, I've been using apothecary bottles for this which have rubber closures and I never thought about it. I'm wondering, does anyone know of any problem with having a layer of plastic wrap between the rubber and the wine? I'd hate to throw out these bottles because they are the perfect size for leftover wine.

Reply by dmcker, Sep 7, 2009.

Just keep them standing, Eric, and drinkup quick.

I don't know of any published research about interaction between saran/plastic wrap and wine, but my gut feeling says there is something not-so-good going on with that as well as the rubber underneath--and other forms of plastic containment, as well. There's lot of buzz from 'greener' sources about problems with plastic, and my guess is that we will see some research at a later date that explains why, though don't hold your breath in the short term. Think about it, though. Why is it that even water tastes different in plastic containers? As I've mentioned elsewhere, I no longer microwave (which I rarely do, anyway) anything in plastic containers or plastic wrap.

Reply by fibo86, Sep 7, 2009.

I too don't drink that much and i find that the screw cap does do a good job imo as I've done the cork thing and find that if it get's knocked cause someone isn't paying attention your fridge may start bleeding (red or white) and that's no fun.
I'm curious as to what chemicals you are referring to dmcker?
On your plastic wrap and microwave plastic thing I agree.....shame it's not a household thing here.

Reply by lingprof, Sep 7, 2009.

Thanks, dmcker! Vacuuvin is my 'normal' method but I just don't feel like I get good results after a day or two, so I'm looking forward to trying this new system.

Oh, and do you fill the bottle to the very top, then, or leave air? hmmmm..... the researcher in me is thinking I might try a controlled experiment on that one. ;-)

Reply by dmcker, Sep 8, 2009.

Lingprof, the idea is to keep as little air as possible between the wine and the stopper. Though depending on the stopper (such as the soft rubber one with the vacuuvin), you definitely don't want actual contact with the wine. Definitely no laying on their sides for bottles using vacuuvin.

I've used that technique for a couple of decades, but less so these days. Sucking out the air sucks out some of the aromatics, and the seal isn't always perfect, so I definitely try to drink the remainders up within a day or two at the most. Inert gas systems aren't much different, and I nowadays prefer to use a cork in a half-bottle, like Jerad describes here and GregDP has mentioned several times in other threads, though even with it I don't want to keep the remainders much longer before drinking.

It perhaps goes without saying, but I prefer to use all of these techniques on everyday wines. I wouldn't want to forcibly decant an older wine into the half bottle, or potentially miss the best drinking window for even younger fine wines. Those I definitely drink up within less than 24 hours (often much less ;-) ), either alone or with others...

Reply by penguinoid, Sep 8, 2009.

Normally I decant half empty open bottles into half bottles. I have one for red wines and another for whites, though since I wash them out with hot water after use this is probably not needed. It does seem to work.

Interestingly, one wine which I did not do this for was Two Paddocks 2007 Picnic Pinot Noir (Otago, NZ). I forgot, and left the remainder of the wine in the bottle over night. For this particular wine, it improved the (already very good) wine quite a bit -- the tannins softened beautifully, and it developed a beautiful candied smell. I was interested to note this on the producers website:


"We found , no surprise, that the bottle of Two Paddocks not finished drank even better the next day . Well of course it would. It is a matter of deep regret to wine makers all over the world that 99.9 % of wines are drunk within an hour of opening, thus never allowing the wine to open up to its full glory.

"So here’s our suggestion; Open your lovely bottle of Two Paddocks or Picnic, drink half a glass, then put the top back on. Then turn to the bottle of Two Paddocks you opened YESTERDAY, and drink that , keeping the one you just opened for tomorrow. Repeat the next day.

"You know it makes sense... "

Not something I've heard before, but it certainly was good advice for this wine. Even if I only found out it was a good idea after I'd already done it ;-)

Reply by lingprof, Sep 8, 2009.

Great thread! dmcker: thanks for the detailed advice! and rest assured, all my questions are about wines that are okay and I feel guilty about just tossing out, but aren't that special. with a wine I really love, expensive or economical, there is never any problem finishing it within a 24 hour period. ;-)

Reply by dmcker, Sep 8, 2009.

Yeah, Penguinoid, I've found that a tightly closed, young wine is often better the next day. The dropoff after that can be quite steep, though, nor are all young wines better the next day...

Reply by Philip James, Sep 8, 2009.

I had this wine yesterday:

It was opened and tasted by Greg on Wednesday last week, although only a couple of sips were consumed before it went into the fridge. With such a small head space the wine oxidized nice and slowly and was beautiful 5 days later. I've rarely had a wine last that well after opening, so it was a real treat.

I think being such a big wine helped it withstand the air that well. I'm sure that if I'd have drunk it right after opening I'd have felt the need to decant it

Reply by ATootsie, Sep 11, 2009.

I prefer to just use a vacu-vin to extract the air. It's not often we have any wines left to do this but I've had a bottle of Wine last 2 to 3 days after first opening it! Also I've had the experience of the screw cap if it's only been opened once I resealed it and it was a good 3 weeks later I thought surely it isn't any good but I opened it and I sampled it and another friend tried it and it was still very drinkable. It was an New Zealand White Wine.

Reply by basilwino, Sep 13, 2009.

I did what Phillip did, instead with Orin Swift The Prisoner 2006. In the fridge 3 days with just a little air, then 2 hours in basements to warm up to drinking temp. Yummy.

Reply by D9sus4, Sep 13, 2009.

Wow, what a great thread idea! I've been using the Vacuvin system for years myself, but the discussion here gave me an idea for my leftover wine.

I'm also a home brewer of beer, so I thought, why not use a standard 12oz glass beer bottle and cap it like you would a beer? I remember that a lot of the wine served to me in French bistros in Paris was bottled this way. Anyone ever tried it?

Reply by Odile53, Apr 22, 2012.

Here's my little trick for storing wine leftovers:  I picked up a small assortment of different sizes of Weck canning jars.   They have a glass top and come in liter, half liter, and quarter liter sizes.  A small amount of headspace limits the oxidation or other reactions that go on for a few days, and the wine generally stays drinkable.  

Reply by Craig Bilodeau, Apr 23, 2012.

Odile53 - Thanks for commenting on this thread and bringing it to the top of the list.  I had not seen it before and there are some GREAT suggestions here!  Thanks to all for the info.

Reply by luv4vino, May 8, 2012.

A wine aveator (epivac) will allow you to keep wine for up to several weeks after opening.


Reply by dmcker, May 8, 2012.

Odile, I'd think the wide necks of your canning jars would allow in more oxygen than you'd want.

BTW, there've been several other threads on this subject that can be found through judicious use of the Forum search function....

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