Uncorked: Five Tips on Caring for Opened Wines
So you’ve opened that wine bottle at the back of the fridge you’d been saving for a good/bad/awesome/terrible day at work. Unless you’re a complete lush, chances are that unless you’re in the company of friends, you’re not going to be able to finish that bottle all by yourself.
The thing is, it’s not a good idea to let wine sit around once it’s been opened. Wine enthusiasts and experts agree on one thing: oxygen is not your friend. Once a wine bottle has been opened, the wine starts to deteriorate. This is the reason why wine storage facilities, such as Singapore Wine Vault, ensure that wines are stored at the most optimal conditions. How fast wine deteriorates, depends on how young the wine is, its alcohol content, and how much oxygen is in the bottle. Unless, of course, you follow these tips to make sure that sweet, sweet nectar of the gods doesn’t go to waste:
Recork the Bottle and Chill Straight Away
Chilling the bottle is pretty straightforward—the aging process activated by exposure to the air will slow down. Don’t freeze it, though. The taste of thawed-out wine is…well, “the same” would be an understatement.
Recorking, however, is tricky. Sometimes the cork gets damaged or destroyed in the process of opening the wine, or it would have swelled so much upon release that it’s impossible to fit back into the bottle. Wine bottle stoppers are available commercially, and wine expert Amy Reiley suggests using rubber corks as an alternative, as they are easier to reinsert into the bottle.
Interesting fact: The Australian winery Penfolds holds free recorking events every two years, traveling to cities around the world for their customers to bring their Penfolds bottles to be assessed for drinkability. Their clients range from serious, wealthy wine collectors to ordinary folk who’ve inherited bottles from their parents or grandparents. It can be an enlightening experience. “Every bottle comes with a story — people want to tell you where they bought the wine and how much they paid for it, if it was a gift, if they found it, if it was a reward for something,” says Peter Gago, chief winemaker for Penfolds for 25 years.
When Storing the Wine, Make Sure It’s Standing Upright Instead of Lying Down.
Storing the bottle upright ensures that less oxygen comes in contact with the surface area of the wine. It’s also important to keep the bottle away from sunlight—light and heat from UV rays can also cause oxidation—and away from anything that can cause vibrations, like washing machines and the like, as “shaking” the bottle will also speed up the wine’s aging. This also means: don’t move your wine about too much. Frequently transporting the bottle to different places can also agitate the wine.
This is actually a practical solution for ordinary wine drinkers with limited space. Transfer the remainder of your wine into smaller bottles so that less oxygen comes in contact with your wine. Smaller-sized wine bottles—Wine Folly recommends the piccolo—are readily available either in your own pantries or in your local wine shop.
Gas it/Pump It
Another alternative to the oxidation problem is to simply replace the oxygen in the bottle with a different kind of gas, such as nitrogen or argon, which are inert and do not affect the integrity of the wine. This is usually done professionally, but there are devices, like Private Preserve, that make this possible to do at home. If you’re brave enough.
There are also ways to vacuum the oxygen right out of the bottle. Systems like Vacu-Vin’s Wine Saver or Wine Saver Concerto come with rubber stoppers that can be used with pumps that suck the air out of the bottle and preserve the wine for longer. The problem with this process, however, is that the vacuum can also possibly remove some of the wine’s aromas and flavors.
Have A Party
Note that all of the above home tips will only delay the inevitable by a couple of weeks, at least. The best way to make sure all that wine doesn’t go to waste? Invite a couple of friends over to help finish it. Pair your remaining wine with the right meal and the right company and the evening will become a wonderful memory for years to come.
For more tips and facts about fine wine, check out www.singaporewinevault.com.