Tips: How to Keep your Opened Wines Fresh

There’s always confusion about the best way to keep wine that’s open. Here’s what you need to know:

The science
Oxygen and wine are frenemies. A little oxygen makes wine better, but too much destroys it. Given enough time, oxygen converts wine into very un-tasty hydrogen peroxide and acetaldehyde. (Fun fact: your liver makes this same conversion!) How long the destruction takes depends on the wine and how it’s made, but generally it’s somewhere between 3 and 10 days.

Refrigerate, refrigerate, refrigerate
Would you leave half your dinner on the counter for three days and then eat it? Well then don’t do it to your wine! REFRIGERATING IS THE #1 THING YOU CAN DO TO KEEP WINE FRESH. The cold slows down oxygen’s ability to work its chemical evil. So just replace the cork and toss it in the fridge.

Cork? Don’t I need a Vacu-Vin or some fancy stopper?
I used to swear by these vacuum systems. They make this really satisfying “POP!” sound when you remove the rubber stopper a few days later. So the vacuum is working, right? Wrong! Testing shows there’s hardly a vacuum at all. They just don’t work. You can read about it here if you are a skeptic like I was (or a nerd). If you already use these, this is GOOD NEWS. You don’t need to waste any more time vacuuming!

(There is a debate on this. I don’t know why. Show me lab results to the contrary and I’ll listen.)

Be careful with lighter wines
Some wines hold up to oxygen better than others. It depends on the grapes and how the wine is made. With reds, lighter varietals like pinot noir and barbera usually can’t hold up as long as a fuller-bodied cabernet or merlot. Same for whites. A bold California chardonnay will hold up longer than a light pinot grigio. When in doubt, drink faster.

Sparkling  and Port
You want to keep sparkling sparkling, so get the bottle as tightly sealed as possible. That being said, sometimes a 2 day old sparkling can be strangely good. It’s usually nicely acidic and a tad sweet and yeasty so it’s PERFECT with spicy, earthy foods like Indian.

Port keeps longer than other wines thanks to the sugar and alcohol, but DON’T KEEP IT OPEN IN THE CLOSET FOR YEARS. 3-4 weeks for a good port at most. Don’t waste this glorious liquid. If you can’t find more occasions to drink it, rethink your life.

The chill value effect
Cold temps subdue wine’s aroma and taste compounds. That’s bad if your wine is really good (so make sure you pull it from the fridge 30+ min before you drink it). But if the wine wasn’t so great to begin with… the chill will dampen the off-putting tastes and aromas and the texture will be more round and full. Consider it a free upgrade for cheap wine!

Advanced option: inert gas = cheap + good science

Wine nerds have tons of opinions on storage and often recommend VERY expensive gadgets. But we think inert gas is the most unscrewed. Wired magazine tested common preservation technologies and decided the same thing. It just makes sense. Because the inert gas is heavier than oxygen, it should float on top of the wine and protect it from any additional oxygen exposure. No vacuum needed and it’s only $9 for 120+ uses! You can buy it here from Amazon.


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