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More on keeping opened wine

More on keeping opened wine

Following up on yesterday's discussion about the difficulty of keeping wine sound once it has been opened, a number of you sent me E-mail discussing a useful technique that I didn't mention.

This procedure is a little finicky, but I know of no more effective way to preserve half of a bottle for enjoyment at another time. Here's how:

First, get yourself a small bottle, roughly half the size of a standard wine bottle. A wine "half bottle" (375 ml) is perfect if you have one, although they're not always easy to find; many fine-wine retailers will carry at least a few wines in this size. (If you don't have a glass half-bottle, several of you suggested using a small plastic water bottle instead.) Clean the bottle thoroughly, and find a leftover wine cork that's in good condition and scrub it well.

Now, when you open a bottle of wine that you don't expect to finish, simply decant half of its contents into the smaller bottle, filling it as close to the top as you can. Reinsert the cork fully (or screw on the cap), and put the bottle back on your wine rack until you're ready to enjoy it.

This system works well because you are protecting the wine from air, which brings about the oxidation that spoils wine quickly. For best results, take care to pour the half-bottle as soon as the wine is opened - don't wait until after dinner - and do so gently, to avoid splashing and unnecessary aeration.

I wouldn't recommend using this technique for a wine that you intend to cellar indefinitely. Even minimal exposure to air is likely to start it on a downhill slide. But you should be able to hold the leftovers for weeks or even months in this way, as opposed to the lifespan of mere days that you can otherwise expect after the cork has been pulled.

One more point: Several of you took gentle issue with my assertion that the aerosol gas wine-preservation systems (like the brand name "Private Preserve" system) don't provide much more protection than simply putting the cork back in the bottle. While I haven't had good experience with this or the vaccuum-pump systems like the trademarked "Vacu-Vin," it's only fair that I report that several of you are happy with it.

Some time soon I'll run a series of tests on the various wine-preservation accessories and report my findings. Meanwhile, though, remember that the best test of ANY wine hypothesis is to try it for yourself and draw your own conclusions.


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All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.

Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2002
Copyright 2002 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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