What to do with an unfinished bottle of wine – according to an expert

Take heart, wine-lovers – an opened, unfinished bottle of wine need not end in a tragedy of muted notes and oxidised acidity. 

Winemaker Wade Bales tell us how to best keep it singing until tomorrow:

No room to breathe

Oxygen is the not-so-magical ingredient that turns wine into vinegar. So it stands to reason that the key to preserving the life of your wine lies in letting as little oxygen come into contact with it as possible. With this in mind:

- Re-cork the wine after every pour and as soon as possible.

- Keep any open wine out of sight from direct sunlight and fluctuating temperatures. The fridge is usually best.

- Do not store opened wine on its side. This only increases the surface area of the wine exposed to oxygen.

Are you in the habit of storing opened wine bottles?

Invest in a vacuum pump. These nifty gadgets are relatively inexpensive and help to preserve wine by partially vacuuming out the oxygen left in the bottle after opening it. If you’re a real enthusiast, the top-of-the-range Coravin uses inert gas to impeccably preserve any wine. It provides the perfect excuse to taste your favourite wines without having to finish the whole bottle.

wine glass with wine


What about sparkling wine?

Many people prefer bubbly that’s been opened the day before. Why? Well, it gives the wine a chance to off-gas and cut down on any overly intense carbonation. However, if you choose to store it, never try to vacuum-preserve bubbles of any kind – it will suck the effervescence out of it. Rather, grab a champagne wine stopper. This will help to keep your wine sparkling for 2 to 3 days. If you’re fresh out of champagne stoppers, then improvise by sticking a teaspoon, upside down, in the neck of the bottle. It’s worth a try.

How long can an opened bottle of wine stay drinkable?

With the right kind of help, a red wine can be stored open for up to 4-5 days. After being opened, reds tend to age more gracefully than their lighter counterparts.

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