Aside from the obvious question of why you’d ever have mythical ‘leftover’ wine in the first place (kidding!) there are a few tips and basic points to understand. Especially heading into the time of year where we’re all entertaining or being entertained, there’s usually plenty of wine to go around. Follow some of the below advice, so you don’t end up spoiling what’s left of the stash!
Should I refrigerate my wine once it’s been opened?
This one’s a pretty simple answer: yes. A definite yes if it’s a white!
Like most food and drinks, wine can be better preserved by placing it in the fridge - but you will need to take a red wine out of the fridge a few hours before drinking the leftover so that it can slowly come back up to temperature. Having said this, some lighter (or more ‘delicate’) reds do taste better with a little chill, and you can also reduce the taste of alcohol in a red wine by dropping its temperature a bit below what you’d normally have it at to drink it. Your home fridge is usually just below 4 degrees Celsius, and this is too cold for almost all red wines… and dropping a red’s temp too much will change or dull the aromas and flavours. As for white and Rosê - the fridge should definitely be the go-to thing, and as you should drink those drops chilled anyway, refrigerate away!
What about decanting opened wine?
Not to turn this into a chemistry lesson, but wine reacts with oxygen over time, so the less oxygen in the bottle, the longer it will keep. That means, if you have half a bottle left of a red wine, it will react with the relatively large amount of oxygen left in the bottle, even if you secure it tightly with its screw cap.
An easy way to combat this problem without rushing out to buy a fancy gadget is to just pour the remaining wine into a smaller bottle you can then seal tightly, before popping it in the fridge. This ensures you can enjoy your wine for even longer, rather than if you just stood the half-empty bottle of red on the kitchen bench.
But… fancy gadgets!
Yes you can certainly run out and buy a small vacuum designed to remove excess oxygen from a wine bottle… but we don’t really think it’s a necessary thing to do (and it does add to the clutter we all get in kitchen cupboards). Basically, it works like a small pump that extracts the air - but would result in removing only some of the air, at best. But if techy things are your jam, then absolutely go for it!
So all in all… how long have I got?
With your average bottle of opened red or white, you really do need to drink it within 1-3 days. The first 24 hours it will still be good, but as days 2 and 3 roll around, you’ll notice a distinct change in the wine’s flavour. The good news? It’s not a harmful change, so nothing to be worried about - but you’ll find your wine not as enjoyable as it once was.
There are also a few ways you can use leftover wine once it’s gone a bit dull or funny, from making sangria, reducing it into stock or jus, or freezing ice cubes for later use in cooking - but we’ll leave that blog post to the foodies. In our view, it’s best to drink leftover wine as soon as possible - definitely something that shouldn’t be too much of a challenge over the festive season.
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