WineAdvisor: Leftover wine, Part II

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WineAdvisor: Leftover wine, Part II

Postby Robin Garr » Wed Dec 20, 2006 1:09 pm

Leftover wine, Part II

In spite of a few wisecracks from buddies who feigned incomprehension at the very concept of leftover wine, Monday's sermon on keeping wine in an opened bottle obviously caught your attention: It has been one of those weeks when the tide of incoming E-mail and forum posts outran my ability to reply individually.

So, recognizing a trend when I see one, let's devote today's space to a summary of your additional thoughts - and mine - about preserving leftover wine.

* My experiment involved leaving recorked bottles standing on the kitchen counter at room temperature, an environment chosen specifically to hasten the oxidation process. As many of you pointed out, however, refrigeration slows the process, so if you want to extend the life of your leftover wine as long as possible, stick it in the fridge. Remember, though, that it will still deteriorate eventually, albeit more slowly. I find refrigerated leftover reds typically still turn iffy after a week or two, although whites and sweet wines last longer. Do give your red wines time to return to cool room temperature before serving them.

* I understand that some of you are sold on your Vacu-Vins and other wine-preservation accessories. I'm unrepentant, though. In repeated testing over the years, I've found that vacuum-pump systems offer no real advantage over simply recorking the open bottle. The accessories that squirt inert gas into the half-full bottle may offer some protection, but in my experience the benefit is too slight to justify the cost. Watch this space - some time soon I'll run more tests and let you know what happens.

* Thanks to long-time WineLovers Discussion Group participant Bob H. for his reminder that it's possible to <i>freeze</i> a portion of leftover wine. Frozen wine (actually it usually turns into a slushy slurry rather than an iceberg) will keep for six months with little degradation of quality, although it may throw a tartrate sediment and lose a little acidity.

* I didn't mention this in Monday's report because it requires a little care and advance planning, but many of you mentioned the old half-bottle trick, a very practical alternative. Get your hands on an empty, well-cleaned 375 ml. "half-bottle" and a clean cork (a good used one is okay). As soon as you open your bottle, pour half of it into the 375 ml bottle, taking care to avoid aerating it. Shove the cork in tight, leaving as little air space as possible. Drink the other half, and put the freshly filled half-bottle away for another day. I still wouldn't count on this for long-term cellaring, but it will certainly keep the leftover wine in good condition for weeks or even months.

Keep those cards and letters coming in, and please remember that, even when the volume of mail makes it impossible for me to respond individually, I do read all your mail. Better yet, I hope you'll break the ice and become active participants in our wine forums, where you'll always find a warm and welcoming group of wine lovers ready to talk about all things wine. I hope you'll drop by today.
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Re: WineAdvisor: Leftover wine, Part II

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Wed Dec 20, 2006 1:33 pm

OK dropping by boss!! I agree with the use of the 375 ml bottle, use it frequently. I am a firm believer in vacu-vin for most wines but have to say that have had a few reservations about some whites holding up overnight. Right now, I have no plans to use the gas thingy but some swear by it. See you on Chat eh.
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Re: WineAdvisor: Leftover wine, Part II

Postby Frank LaClair » Wed Dec 20, 2006 4:04 pm

Maybe I'm just finicky, but I rarely can tolerate a leftover red for more than three or four days, even when refrigerated. I vaccum vehemently and even when I've gotten a healthy pop when I "uncork" a leftover, it just isn't the same as the original opening. I find the leftover circumstance to be best with a young, tannic wine that can then mellow to perfection on its second or third day after opening, but otherwise I'm for finishing a bottle by the next evening.
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Postby William K » Wed Dec 20, 2006 7:10 pm

One thing I don't think I have seen anyone mention yet is that tolerance for oxidation seems to vary widely between individuals, much the same way that tolerance for TCA and Brett does.

The results of Robin's modest experiement may perhaps shed more light on his moderate-to-high tolerance for oxidation than on the inherent quality of the wine. This is not to say that highly tolerant folks can't taste the oxidation just as well as less tolerant folks...just that it doesn't bother them as much.

It may also shed some light on why he has limited usefulness for the VacuVin while some of us swear by them. Personally, I have a pretty low tolerance for oxidation and I can DEFINITELY tell the difference between a bottle that has been pumped and one that hasn't. And, no, I don't own any magic wine-aging magnets :) I do think that there's a plausible chemical mechanism for the VacuVin to have a real effect, namely, less oxygen in the bottle means less oxidation.

That's my $0.02 anyway. Good topic.

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