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Open wine bottles
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Doug Frost: mug
Storing Open Wine
Keeping your leftover wine is a good idea these days. Doug Frost gives pointers on the proper way to store open bottles of wine. There were rich moments in our country’s recent past before the economy turned blue and, rather than call the paramedics, the authorities ran out the exits like panicked junkies. For the next year or so, things could be dicey. We need to watch our pennies. And I’m going to start by trying to make the most of my leftover wines.
I’ll admit it. In the years before the meltdown, if I had some wine left when the festivities ended, well, that was trash. But now I put the cork back in the bottle (or screw the screwcap back in place) and put the bottle in the refrigerator. Why? Because wine is grape juice, and you wouldn’t expect a half-empty bottle of grape juice to taste pleasant if you had left it sitting on the dining room table for a few days, would you? Think of wine like any produce product. You don't leave a head of lettuce out on the kitchen counter either. It would get pretty droopy.
Wine gets droopy, too.
So you put it in the fridge, and the oxidation that happens to an open bottle, as well as the loss of flavor and aroma, is slowed. Put the bottle in the fridge, whether the wine is red or white. Okay, you don’t want your red wine to be ice cold. When you’re ready to finish your half-empty bottle of red wine, you take it out of the fridge about a half hour before you’re going to drink it.
You don’t need fancy equipment. It’ll taste pretty darn good and far fresher than if you’d used one of those VacuVin products that pumps the air out of the open bottle or those nitrogen canisters that you spray into the open bottle to push the damaging oxygen molecules out of the bottle, theoretically. With all due respect to those products, nothing works better than a refrigerator.
How long can you store already opened wine? This is not a straight-forward matter. The amount of time a half-empty bottle of wine lasts varies with the wine. Some wines taste fine for a couple of days after they’ve been opened and placed in the fridge. Most deteriorate within four or five days, and some last for weeks. What gives? Acidity is one factor. High-acid wines seem to last longer than low-acid wines. But wine is complicated, and no single factor seems to explain why.
I’ll generalize this much: German wines usually last a long time in the fridge. American wines usually don’t. Sweet wines last a lot longer in the fridge than dry wines. After that, you’re on your own.