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.
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.
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.
Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...
Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more
Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions