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30 Second Wine Tasting Tip:
Saving leftover wine

The commercial "Vacu-Vin" system and its competitors use a simple plastic pump and special stopper to extract some of the air from a partially consumed bottle of wine.
The moment you open a bottle of wine, the inevitable process of deterioration begins, as the oxygen in the air we breathe literally starts burning up the wine's delicate fruit flavors.

With most wines, this process is negligible for the first few hours and possibly overnight, and (as discussed in the Feb. 28, 2000 Wine Advisor,, a bit of air may even benefit young, immature wines that show tannic astringency before they mature.

But suppose you can't finish the bottle in an evening or two? Is there any reasonable way to preserve it for enjoyment at another time?

The answer, I'm afraid, is that it's possible but not very practical. Several commercial accessories are available, including systems like the trademarked "Vacu-Vin" that remove some of the air from the bottle with a small plastic pump and special stopper; the "Private Preserve" and other systems in which you squirt inert gas into the bottle from an aerosol can; and the somewhat more expensive "Keeper" and commercial "Cruvinet" systems that use inert gas to protect wine and dispense it through a spout mechanism. However, my experience with these devices is that they don't prevent deterioration for more than a few days.

Some people swear by dropping clean marbles or other small, non-reactive objects into the half-empty wine bottle until the liquid reaches the top, thus driving out the air. And one method that does work surprisingly well is to decant half of your wine to fill a smaller bottle, then put a cork in it. (This works best if you do it as soon as you open the larger bottle, to avoid exposing the wine to air.)

Many years ago, a Wine Spectator writer controversially advocated freezing leftover wine, a process that he swore left the wine unharmed and, upon thawing and warming back up to serving temperature, just as good as new. Many experts, however, argue that freezing damages wine by precipitating out its acids in crystalline form, significantly changing its flavor.

Ultimately, though, most wine lovers - including me - simply put the cork back in a half-empty bottle and try to finish it as soon as possible, preferably within a day or two. Refrigerating the leftovers does seem to extend their life a bit, to possibly as much as a week for simpler whites. But no matter how you try to keep your wine, bear in mind that the clock began running as soon as you pulled the cork.

A NOTE TO LONG-TIME SUBSCRIBERS: A few of you old-timers may note that we covered this topic more than a year ago, on March 1, 1999. Because of the dramatic growth of our subscriber list to more than 12,000 readers around the world, I may occasionally repeat topics on frequently asked questions. When I do this, though, I'll make every effort, as I have done here, to tell the old stories in different ways, adding new information and not merely lazily recycling old columns. I hope this is OK with you!

What's your preferred method for keeping wine? Check out our Voting Booth feature (mentioned below) and share your opinion. Or drop me a note by E-mail at I regret that the growing circulation of the "Wine Advisor" makes it difficult for me to reply individually to every note, but I'll answer as many as I can; and please be assured that all your input helps me do a better job of writing about wine. Please feel free to get in touch if you'd like to comment on our topics and tasting notes, suggest a topic for a future bulletin, or just talk about wine.

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Wine Lovers' Voting Booths
If you're interested in this week's topic, I hope you'll take a moment to drop by our Wine Lovers' Voting Booth,, and cast your virtual ballot in favor of the wine-preservation method you prefer. For the cooks among us (and what wine lover doesn't enjoy fine food?), we also welcome you to our Food Lovers' Voting Booth,, where the new topic asks how closely you follow recipes.

30 Second Tasting Notes
Tiamo Tiamo 1998 Rosso Puglia ($6.99)
A blend of 55 percent Sangiovese (the Chianti variety) and 45 percent Primitivo (the grape that's thought to be a twin or at least a sibling of Zinfandel), this unusual and highly affordable red wine from Apulia in the "boot heel" of Southern Italy is designated "Indicazione Geographica Tipica," a relatively new Italian designation indicating a wine made of grapes and in a style considered typical of its region. Very dark ruby in color, it shows ripe sour-cherry aromas with spicy notes of chocolate and cinnamon. Tart and fresh, red-fruit flavors are structured with zippy acidity; light-bodied but lasting, it's a well-balanced table wine and a very good value indeed. U.S. importer: Winesellers Ltd., Skokie, Ill. (April 8, 2000)

FOOD MATCH: A fine match with pork chops with citrus and mangoes in a nuevo Latino preparation (posted on The Food Lovers' Discussion Group at

30 Second Wine Link
Tasters Guild New York
Tasters Guild New York Chapter is a respected wine-tasting club that hosts frequent wine-tasting events for a fee. Those who live within reach of New York City or plan to travel there, it's worth bookmarking this site if only to be aware of their tastings. But its newly launched Website,, is much more than that: Based on its extensive content, it ranks as one of the Web's top destinations for general information about wine and wine tasting.

The week's 30 Second Advertising Partner
California Wine Club,, is the perfect, affordable way to get two different bottles of excellent wine every month, along with its fun and fact-filled newsletter Uncorked. Commercially unavailable, these wines are like secret treasures we hand-select from California's small, award-winning wineries. Join for as many months as you like, or use The California Wine Club as a special, unique gift for friends, family, customers and colleagues. You can reach the Club at the link above or, in the U.S., by calling 1-800-777-4443.

California Wine Club

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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.

More time for wine?
You don't need to wait for Mondays to read about wine! Drop in any time on Robin Garr's Wine Lovers' Page, where we add new tasting notes several times each week and frequently expand our selection of wine-appreciation articles, tips and tutorials.

If you'd like to talk about wine online with fellow wine enthusiasts around the world, we'd be delighted to have you visit the interactive forums in our Wine Lovers' Discussion Group. If you're from another part of the world and don't feel entirely comfortable chatting in English, visit our International Forum and introduce yourself in the language of your choice.

Vol. 2, No. 12, April 10, 2000

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