Metro.co.uk’s wine expert Rob Buckhaven tells you how to make the most of any leftover vino (Picture: Getty Images)
Isn’t the best way to store leftover wine to, um, drink it? Boom, no leftover vino.
That’s one way, but for those with more self-control, do we just shove the cork back in and call it a night, or are there better ways to store it?
Basically, if you don’t want to dress your cob salad with the remainder of last night’s Aussie Shiraz, you need to quit leaving your wine in contact with oxygen.
The air we breathe is a wine killer, turning it into a chemical called acetaldehyde over time, described as grassy, nutty and appley.
Even leaving a half-drunk bottle with the cork in leaves 50% of the bottle full of oxygen and in contact with the wine.
The aim is to block oxygen contact so the wine keeps fresh for a few days. How? Like this:
Pouring it into a jar
I did a little experiment to prove whether pouring leftover wine into a smaller container keeps it fresher. I knew what the outcome would be, and I’m not even a scientist.
Firstly, I filled a jar with the leftover red, right up to the top so there was virtually no gap, screwed the lid on tight and left it on the counter. Then I pushed the cork back into the half-drunk bottle of red (or screw up the cap), leaving it standing next to the jar overnight.
Next day, I sampled them both and, bingo, the jar that had almost no oxygen in contact with the wine had kept the freshness as if no time had passed, while the corked-up bottle containing half a bottle’s worth of oxygen had changed the wine’s flavours overnight, with the once fresh fruit turned savoury.
Don’t get me wrong, I like savoury, but it wasn’t how the wine was meant to taste. Jar: 1, cork-shoved-in-bottle: 0.
Pro tip – store away from light or heat, possibly even put it in the fridge if you’re planning to syphon the rest the next day. Don’t be lured into thinking the clean side of the cork should go into the bottle, this could introduce new contaminants, so you’ll just have to squeeze it back in, dirty end first.
Remember, don’t put the bottle on its side in the fridge, always stand it upright (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Putting it in the fridge
Can’t find a lidded container? The next best thing is to cork up the bottle and put it in the fridge. Even better, pour it into a wine glass and cover it with cling film. The cooler fridge conditions make the decomposition process slower, keeping those flavours intact.
Remember, don’t put the bottle on its side, always stand it upright. Not only do you avoid seepage, but there’s less wine surface area in contact with the oxygen. Wine stored in an airtight jar will stay relatively fresh for 3-5 days, in an opened bottle, less so.
Using a wine preservation system
Serious winos will already have one of these – or just anyone who loves a gadget. The bougie Coravin tool (which starts at £129) works by injecting a needle through the cork, sucking out a glassful of wine and replacing the wine with Argon gas to protect the wine in the bottle. The cork then reseals itself and it’s as good as new. Then there are vacuum pumps that remove the oxygen to hermetically seal the bottle, adding around two weeks onto the life of a bottle of wine.
Yes you can make ice cubes out of it… but don’t use the good stuff (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Making wine ice cubes
Not a good shout for a decent wine, as the freezing/thawing process causes tannins, polyphenols and aromatic compounds in wine to form crystals that fall out of the solution. Heating brings them back, but you can imagine what this does to the structure of the wine.
However, it can be very useful for sangria, mulled wine or punch, or even ‘frozé’ in the case of rosé. Plus a great way to have a small amount to hand when cooking a beef bourguignon or coq au vin.
Using a wine stopper
Buy a decent one and it’ll change the game, especially for sparkling wine – teaspoons in the neck of the bottle don’t preserve the bubbles, never have done and they never will.
I love this one from the Waiter’s Friend Company and it’s used by many in the trade – and it’s just £5. Regular wine stoppers are next to nothing on Amazon, or there’s this one from John Lewis for £14 if you want to be a bit more fancy.
Try our Drinks Club editor’s way of storing leftover wine – it’s a game changer.