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Home Food  Saving the open bottles
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Wednesday, February 4,2009

Saving the open bottles

by Michael Brenton

You and your partner have finished dinner and a half bottle of wine remains. Or the party is over, and you find several partially filled bottles. Now what? The drain is not an option, but how do you keep the wine from spoiling? Although oxygen can be a necessary component of the evolution of many wines while aging in the barrel, it is the enemy of wine in an open bottle. The rare exception is when a big, tannic, red wine — the kind that threatens to peel the enamel off your teeth — is opened before it has an opportunity to mature. In that case, sometimes a day or two in that open bottle will help it smooth out. An hour or two of aeration for a young wine can also improve its flavor and aromas. But in general, wine must be prevented from undergoing the deleterious effects of oxidation at the end of the night.

After years of empirical research in my home environment, I have found one store-bought solution that is most effective and one solution requiring no special gadgets that also works well.


The manufactured option introduces inert gases over the surface of the wine. Two popular brand names of products serving this function are Private Preserve and VineyardFresh. VineyardFresh tends to be a bit more expensive, but consists solely of nitrogen and argon, whereas Private Preserve contains other inert gases. To use either product, simply place the straw on the nozzle of the canister into the neck of the wine bottle, spray in several puffs of inert gas and recork the bottle in an upright position.

A home remedy that also works well requires that you have an empty half bottle (375 ml) and empty quarter bottles (the 187 ml airline style wine bottle with a screw cap). Simply pour leftover wine into either the half bottle or the quarter bottle, add some inert gas if that does not fill the bottle, and recork or screw on the cap. In a controlled experiment several months ago, a bottle of Ken Wright Pinot Noir from Oregon (a top notch Pinot) was opened, with one half immediately poured into a half bottle and recorked with no air space at all and the remaining half left in the large bottle and sprayed with inert gas. An experienced panel of tasters tried both wines after a week of storage. Although two tasters thought there was a hint of oxidation in the wine sprayed with inert gas, both wines drank very well with no significant diminution in quality even after a week. In vino veritas -



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