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How to Store Open Wine

One question I always seem to get when giving a tour is: how do you store an open bottle of wine? For Parke and me, the answer is quite simple. We put the cork back in the bottle and leave it on the counter to save it for the next dinner. Typically, an open bottle of wine will last a couple days on the counter, even longer in the fridge for white wines and Rosé. (This depends on how the wine is made and whether it is made to age. More on that later.)

There are a few caveats of course. If the bottle is an older white wine (5+ years or older), putting it in the fridge Is more important because the cold temperature slows oxidation. If the bottle is an older red wine (10+ years or older), we invite friends over to enjoy it with us because an older red wine will not last as well.
Store White Wine in FridgeWhy does it matter? Wine develops and ages with the tiny exchange of oxygen through the pores of the cork; just like it does through the pores of the oak barrels. That exchange allows the wine to develop complexity and nuances that come with age. When a bottle is opened and remains a third or half full, the interaction with oxygen is increased (because there is more oxygen in the bottle), and the aging process is accelerated. An opened bottle that sits on the counter for a day or two is not a problem; in fact, the aromatics might be enhanced.

When Parke and I buy wine, we  test its age-ability – will this wine be one we enjoy now, or should we buy a case to enjoy for several years? It is not a scientifically replicable experiment, but it is a simple concept that helps us decide whether we buy 2-3 bottles or a case. We open the bottle, pour a couple small glasses to enjoy, then we put a cork stopper in it and place it on the counter…one day = one year of aging (roughly); two days = two years of aging and so on.
How to Store Open WineThere are devices that will replace oxygen with nitrogen, like the Coravin® Preservation Systems which allows you to serve yourself a glass without removing the cork. Some of our friends find these systems very helpful. It’s really a personal preference as to what you do.

For sparkling wines, it is impossible to put the cork back in the bottle because the cork expands when the bottle is opened and a cork stopper, while it can go in the bottle, it does not stay secured due to the pressure in the bottle. We, in fact, learned this last night…we had a bottle of sparkling with a cork stopper in the fridge. We placed it on the counter, grabbed a couple flutes and before we got to the bottle, the stopper flew off with a loud "pop!", scaring all of us including our dog Sally! That will be the last time we use a cork stopper for our sparkling wine! We do have a favorite sparkling wine stopper; it has a spring-loaded stopper that fits into the bottle and two jaws that clamp down on the lip of the bottle. Works every time! Here is a list of some top ones. (They make great stocking stuffers!) 

Rest assured – wine is not as fragile as you think. We have at least one bottle of wine (sometimes two) on our counter, that way we can have a little Cabernet with our chocolate after having a glass of Chardonnay with our chicken. Free feel to open a bottle of wine and enjoy it tonight and then again tomorrow. Saluté!