ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

For those of us that do not consume an entire bottle of wine at dinnertime, I am forever searching for a method to store a partially consumed bottle for two to three days with minimal degradation.

I usually drink a half-bottle with my dinner. The following is my experience in storing the leftover wine in order of least degradation: 1) Pour the wine from a standard 750ml bottle through a funnel into an empty 375ml bottle with a screw cap until it is almost full 2) Use any one of the equipments that fill the partially full bottle of wine with an inert gas 3) Use a hand vacuum pump that works somewhat fair at best 4) Re-cork the partially full bottle of wine and store in the refrigerator for two to three days.

I wonder what experience you have had in solving this problem and your comments on my experience as stated above. Is there a difference in the storability between red and white wines?

—Stan G., Woodland Hills, Calif.

Dear Stan,

Good question. I deal with this issue personally nearly every day. And yes, there’s a joke about how if you finished the wine you wouldn’t have this problem, ha ha. But it’s no laughing matter when you paid good money for a bottle of wine and don’t want to see it wasted.

Air is the enemy here. My best advice is to transfer the leftover wine into a smaller container, which will help protect it from oxygen. A spare 375ml bottle is a great vessel, especially if it has a twist off top. In a pinch, I’ve used a small plastic water bottle. Refrigeration will further slow any deterioration. Some folks even like to freeze leftover wine.

I personally haven’t had much luck with inert gas—there’s something about working with an invisible product that makes me feeling like I’m doing it wrong. But I appreciate the science behind it and know many wine professionals and restaurants that use that method. As far as the hand vacuum pumps, sure there is a satisfying suction sound they make, but most have agreed they seem to have little effect.

I would suggest treating leftover reds and whites the same, but you might notice that wines higher in acidity like a crisp white wine will last longer, and wines with more aggressive tannins might have a longer life, too. Personal taste and tolerance will vary. I can usually notice a bottle start to fade by day two or three, but I know other people that can nurse a bottle for a week or longer without noticing a difference.

—Dr. Vinny


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