Leftover wine is a foreign concept to many wine lovers. We want to finish the bottle if only to look forward to enjoying something different the next night. But sometimes, a lone glass is appropriate. Or, if the mood is right, maybe one bottle is not enough but two is too much. So we need a way to keep the leftover wine fresh for a day or more.
Here are several ways to preserve your opened wine — advantages and pitfalls included.
The simplest thing to do is shove the cork back in the bottle as far as you can (or refasten the screw top) and leave the wine on the counter. The key here is the oxygen trapped in the bottle. A young red wine may “open up” or “breathe” and improve over the next day or two. Ultimately, however, at this stage of wine’s life oxygen is the enemy. Over time — maybe just two days or so, depending on the wine’s quality — the wine will begin to lose its fruit flavors.
So stick the bottle in the refrigerator. Cold slows oxidation. If you’re saving a white wine, you’ll want to do that anyway. Disadvantages: You’ll need to let the red warm up a bit the next day, and the bottles will need to stand up in the refrigerator door. A resealed cork may not be a total seal to prevent leakage if you lay the bottle on its side.
So we have two things to guard against: oxidation and refrigerator clutter. There are numerous gadgets to avoid oxidation. The Vacu Vin is a pump designed to suck oxygen out of the bottle, leaving a vacuum over the wine until you release the rubber stopper. The pump and two stoppers cost about $13, and last forever (or as long as you don’t lose the stoppers). Private Preserve is a spray can of heavier-than-air gas that coats the surface of the wine, protecting it from oxygen. This supposedly can make it last for several weeks, but in my experience the wine will deteriorate after a few days.
Wine collectors have become infatuated with the Coravin, a device designed to let us enjoy a glass of wine without removing the cork from the bottle. The wine is extracted through a needle that punctures the cork and inserts argon gas to protect the remaining wine. The Coravin costs about $300 plus the cost of additional argon cartridges, so it’s definitely a splurge purchase for serious wine collectors. It has a good track record on preserving the wine remaining in the bottle.
Savino ($20 to $60 online) is a carafe designed to preserve your red or white wine from oxygen over several days. A floating stopper protects the wine from at least most of the oxygen in the carafe, while a cap creates a good seal against outside air. I’ve found a quality wine will stay fresh for several days in a Savino, longer than just leaving it re-corked in the bottle. The Savino also fits more conveniently in the refrigerator door.
What about sparkling wine? If you like to start your evening with a glass of champagne or other bubbly, you can stretch that bottle with a champagne stopper, available at most wine stores or online for anything from $6 to $20 or more, depending on how fancy they are. Shove the stopper on the top of the bottle and clamp two wings around the bottle neck to hold the seal. Pop up the wings and there’s a pop almost as satisfying as when you twisted the cork out of the bottle the first time.
A California company called CapaBunga offers CapaBubbles, a two-piece stopper for sparkling wines. Snap a ridged clamp around the neck of the bottle, then a cap screws onto it, preserving the wine’s fizz and sparkle for several days. It costs about $16 and is often found customized for wineries. The drawback: CapaBunga doesn’t fit all sparkling bottles. Those commonly used for cremant wines from France apparently have slightly thicker necks.
The namesake CapaBunga closure for still wines ($13 for four) is a simple silicone cap that fits snugly over the mouth of a bottle, allowing you to lay the bottle on its side. The emphasis is on protecting your wine from spillage rather than spoilage. And when all you want is to save some wine for tomorrow, sometimes the simplest solutions are the best.
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