Make That Leftover Wine Last ’til New Years

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There are times when you can’t finish a bottle and end up with “leftover wine.” When you find yourself in this predicament, you want to preserve what’s left inside so the next time you pour a glass, it’s still as good as when you opened it. Christopher Hoel, sommelier and expert wine curator for Wine Insiders and Martha Stewart Wine Co. says the key to keeping it from going bad is minimizing the wine’s exposure to oxygen. The sweet spot for an open bottle is three to five days, but these easy tips and tricks can keep your wine fresher for longer.

  • Always re-cork your wine – When you know you’re not going to finish the bottle, keep it closed. Re-cork it after each glass to limit the amount of oxygen that comes into contact with the wine so it keeps its flavor fresh for longer.
  • Keep your wine upright – Try to avoid storing wine sideways to minimize the surface area that’s exposed to oxygen to slow the oxidation process.
  • Keep some half-sized bottles around – Hoel says he likes to have some empty half-sized (375-milliliter) bottles around to pour any leftover wine into. He explains, “Even if it’s not filled all the way, a half-sized bottle will reduce the amount of oxygen stored with your wine.”
  • Keep the wine cold and dark – Aside from oxygen, light and temperature play a part in maintaining a wine’s integrity, our expert says. The fridge is probably the best bet to keep it away from light and below room temperature and it works for both reds and whites.
  • Invest in a wine preserver – If you’re serious about keeping wine fresh, you may want to splurge on a wine preserver. There are two common systems: the vacuum pump and an inert gas system. The pump will set you back $10 or $20 and can add a few days to the life of your wine, Hoel says. The gas preservation systems protect by putting a “cap” of wine-friendly gas on top of the remaining wine and range from about $10 for a can of Argon gas to a pricier Coravin system that can keep wine fresh for weeks or even months, but costs from $200 to $350.