How to Store Your Half Bottles of Wine
We wine lovers have all encountered the situation where a bottle or two extra have been opened and cannot be finished. How to deal these wines with justice has been a great issue in the past and the debates will most likely to carry on in the future. Before we get to the details on the whys and hows of wine preservation, there is one suggestion recommended! Drink up if what you have there is something super prestigious, such as a bottle of Bordeaux First Growth from the last century, like a 1989 Haut Brion. Yes, it would be fun to explore how a wine like that develops over time after opening, but why risk the chance of quality decline at all when enjoying a bottle of history?
So why should we store opened wines properly? Well, as soon as a bottle of wine is opened and exposed to the air, you risk degradation and loss of wine aromas and flavours. Oxidation is the culprit behind this, and your elixir may turn into vinegar sooner than you expect if you don't treat it properly. Lighter reds and aromatic whites tend to decline quickly after opening so it is best to drink up a fruit-driven Pinot Noir, a Beaujolais and/or unoaked Sauvignon Blanc once opened. This is due to the lack of tannins in these wines. Old wines also fade away faster than young wines, which are quite understandable; the young wines are in their youth, and have so much more to say. The oxygen exposure actually helps revealing the hidden layers of stories that normally surfaces after years of cellaring. So don't be surprised when you find an opened bottle from yesterday or the day before tastes better!
Several factors determining the effect of air exposure are at play here:
Alcohol content: very influential in the preservation of wines. A wine with 10-11% alcohol perishes earlier than a wine with 14-15% alcohol.
Tannins: Tannins are great antioxidants, and our opened wines are shielded from oxidation.
Acidity: The higher the acidity, the longer the wine lasts, that’s the reason why some whites lasts long without the tannins.
So what are our options?
One option is to use the leftover wine in cooking. In this case we are less concerned with the change in the wine flavour profile.
To store opened wines for later enjoyment, the most important and easiest way is to seal the bottle tightly and store them in the fridge. Coldness slows down the degradation of wines. Remember to place the wines vertically to minimize surface area exposed to oxygen. This will extend the life of these wines by a few days. A great tip is to freeze these wines as ice cubes so we can use them whenever we want.
If you are seeking ways to keep your wines fresh for a longer period, a vacuum pump that sucks air out of the bottle (unsuitable for sparklings!) or blanketing the wine with heavy inert gas (such as nitrogen) greatly extends wine shelf life. These two options can make your opened wines last for weeks!