An opened bottle of wine with even half a glass worth of leftovers is an oxymoron of sorts; it’s not supposed to exist as most wine connoisseurs find it offensive that such divine liquid should go to waste. However, if it ever does happen, then how do you store a opened wine bottle in a wine cooler? What are the things to avoid and how can you further prevent it from souring too fast?
Such things may be too trivial for a simple passerby, or someone who just likes getting a free glass now and then. But these are matters of importance to any oenophilia.
What Happens to Wine after Opening?
Wine is a curiously delicious liquid that never fails to surprise whoever drinks it the first time, and then the one after that. Each drink possesses a portent so potent that it only grows bold each year that passes it unopened.
As such, it never has an expiration date so long as it remains unopened. Things take a bad turn once a wine bottle is opened and its seemingly immortal life becomes shortened to a few days, nay, mere hours if consumed to the last drop.
Wine bottles are sealed to prevent external factors from pouring in and affecting the taste of the wine. Once opened, oxygen starts disturbing the air inside and oxidation happens where the wine is stripped of its natural taste and replaced with something nutty and unenjoyable. Bacteria also starts metabolizing the wine which produces different enzymes that turn perfect wine into vinegar.
How Do You Store a Opened Wine Bottle in a Wine Cooler?
If ever you are faced with this existential dilemma, then you can follow these steps to ensure that oxygen and bacteria won’t get to your wine quickly.
Step 1: Re-cork
Using the stained side of the cork, plug it back in and place it inside the cooler. Logic would tell you to use the cleaner side of the cork, but it is not as clean as it looks and the stained side has already communicated with the wine inside.
Step 2: Lay It Down
Keeping wine bottles on its side is an added measure to keep the cork moist. A dried-out cork will give you a foul-smelling wine that, although it will taste great, you can’t stand to sniff.
Step 3: Maintain
Wine coolers can maintain a constant temperature inside and make sure that you place the leftover wine in its right place. For dual-zone coolers, white on the white side of things; and for single-zone coolers, white at the very bottom.
Step 4: Keep It in the Dark
Another advantage of owning a wine cooler is that the glass door is already tinted or smoked which already darkens the space but for leftovers, place it near the bottom to be safe.
Step 5: Finish in Five Days
Never reopen a recorked wine bottle unless you plan to finish it off. This will reintroduce oxygen and bacteria which will again tarnish the taste of the wine. Once you’ve opened a wine bottle, finish it in five days if you cannot do so within hours.
Step 6: Seal In the Freshness
Some other ways of preserving the taste and freshness of wine include using the following devices:
- Vacuum Pump
This pump takes out the oxygen from within the bottle after you have re-corked it. This preserves the wine further, although you still need to finish it off within the next few days.
This expensive tool provides you a way to drink wine without having to open the bottle. A syringe-like contraption is inserted, and it will extract the wine for you. This preserves the flavor of the wine, and instead of injecting air from the outside, it injects other inert gases that would not interact with the wine inside.
A relatively cheap and new way of preserving wine is inserting an unblown food-grade balloon into the bottle and then pumping it so that it effectively pushes the remaining air out while blocking the passageway.
- Other Storage Methods
Some wine connoisseurs suggest placing leftovers in another container to preserve it better; these containers can include:
- Mason Jar
Pour leftover wine into a mason jar and seal it tightly. The screw-top lid keeps oxygen and bacteria out, much like how a cork would.
- Smaller Bottle
If the leftovers came from a large bottle, then transfer the content into a smaller water bottle so that there would be little air space left between the cap and the wine surface.
- Resealable Beverage Glass
You can also pour leftover wine inside an opaque beverage glass; the one office workers use for coffee. This is also a great way to sneak wine into places you cannot.
- McGyver Method
If you’ve lost the cork of the wine bottle, then don’t fret. Just get a small plastic bag, place it over the opening of the bottle and wrap it tightly with rubber bands. It’s not pretty and not the best way to make it last longer, but you’ll have something to prevent the wine from spilling until you can get to it the next day.
What Are the Things to Avoid When Storing Wine?
Now that you have read some of the best practices in dealing with this wine conundrum, here are some things to avoid when storing opened wine bottles.
- Stand It Right
While letting an opened wine bottle in an upright position is almost logical, doing so actually drain the moisture out from the cork which results in a horrible-tasting wine the next day.
- Window View
If you don’t have a wine cooler, then for some reason, do not store opened wine bottles where sunlight or bright lights can easily get to it. Keep it away from windows and skylights.
- Hot and Dry
Another thing to consider is the weather. If the room temperature is too hot or dry, then this can gravely affect the taste of the wine.
- Prolong Its Existence
As previously mentioned, always finish opened wine bottles within five days to prevent it from going bad.
The Wine Is Spoiled, Now What?
If you don’t get to an opened wine bottle in time, then don’t whine about it as there are still other uses for leftover wines. However, if it tastes way off or smells too much like vinegar, then it is much better to throw it away.
Here are some ways you can use leftover wine instead of finishing it off:
The acids and flavor of the wine can seep into meat perfectly which is why most chefs use red wine to marinate their meat. Wine also acts as a meat tenderizer, and it does transfer its flavor handsomely into the meat soaking in it.
Most chefs would also use wine to deglaze a pan to create a uniquely flavorful sauce that compliments the dish that they have just created.
If you don’t have a culinary need for wine yet, then just pour it in an ice cube tray and freeze it. Toss it on the fire when you finally have a use for it.
- To Fridge or Not to Fridge
Always place leftover wine inside a cool place where the temperature is constant, and light cannot get in. While the refrigerator is everybody else’s best bet, a wine cooler is still the best place to store them as it is crucial to have both temperature and humidity remain constant as opposed to a refrigerator that is constantly being opened and closed.
How do you store a opened wine bottle in a wine cooler? Oenophiles would say don’t and just drink up the remaining wine, but if you really have to, then make sure that you store it in a sealed container and place it in a cool and humid environment. You can also use leftover wine for cooking and such, all you need is a little creativity.