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.
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 freeze 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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Perrin Réserve 2004 Côtes du Rhône Rouge ($10.79)
This is a fine-value red wine from the Perrin family, producers of the fabled Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape. It's very dark garnet in color, with aromas of black fruit and spice plus a whiff of pepper. Flavors are consistent with the nose, spicy red berries, tangy acidity and a surprising edge of rather rough tannins. Odd combination of light body and full flavor, but it works. It's nothing fancy, but it reminds me pleasantly of red wines served in small pitchers in Paris cafes, back in the days - it hasn't been that long - when I was first learning about wine and about Paris. U.S. importer: Vineyard Brands, Inc., Birmingham, Ala. (Nov. 11, 2006)
FOOD MATCH: Okay, it's not Italian, but it still makes a splendid match with a simple dish of spaghetti and beef meatballs. It would serve well with a wide range of red meat or poultry.
VALUE: The $10 price point seems fair in today's market, but take the time to shop around, as it's often discounted as low as $7 or $8.
WHEN TO DRINK: Not really an ager. Enjoy it soon, then watch for newer vintages.
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Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2006