Is there a way to “recork” an already opened bottle of wine? Can I do it at home?

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

I often read about a wine that has been “recorked.” Sometimes this term is used when a wine has been topped off at a winery, though sometimes it seems to stand alone. Is there a way to “recork” an already opened bottle of wine? Can I do it at home? And if so, can you give me another excuse to convince my girlfriend that “If I don’t finish it, the bottle will go bad!”?

—Max, Boston

Dear Max,

Strictly speaking, the term “recorking” refers to a specific process that’s meant to give ageworthy (and generally expensive) wines more years of safe aging by swapping an old cork for a new one. The bottle is carefully uncorked; the wine is tested for quality; any ullage, or decline in the bottle’s fill level, is replaced with additional wine (preferably from the same winery and vintage); and finally the bottle receives a new cork and capsule. Generally this is done at the original winery by its own personnel, and a certificate of authenticity accompanies the recorked bottle. However, some collectors believe that this process can do as much harm as good, and recorked bottles don’t always fare well on the secondary market.

But if you just want to know how to keep an opened bottle of wine in good condition until you can finish it, there are all kinds of methods out there for preserving wine. You can use inert gases, or create a vacuum, or even just freeze it. In my experience, the first thing to do is move the leftover wine into a smaller bottle so less of it is exposed to air. I keep clean half-bottles on hand for this (and in a pinch, I’ll just use a small water bottle) and refrigerate them, which will further slow any deterioration. But despite your best efforts, most people will start to notice unfavorable changes after a few days or maybe a week, depending on the wine.

—Dr. Vinny

Closures Corks Collecting Storage Ask Dr. Vinny

More In Dr. Vinny

Should I refill my own wineglass, or ask the host or server to?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the etiquette or wine service, for hosts and for …

May 23, 2022

What’s the best way to remove the cork from an imperial (a 6-liter bottle of wine)?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains best practices for opening—and serving—large-for…

May 16, 2022

Are wine tasting note descriptors listed in order of prominence?

Wine Spectator's resident wine expert Dr. Vinny explains that wine tasting notes are not …

May 9, 2022

How can a wine taster distinguish between so many different types of "pepper" in a wine?

Wine Spectator's resident wine expert Dr. Vinny explains where some pepper notes in wine …

May 2, 2022

Is it OK to bring a bottle of rosé to dinner at a restaurant?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains corkage etiquette and BYO Dos and Don'ts

Apr 25, 2022

Why don't most 1.5-liter wine bottles have a vintage date?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why many wines are non-vintage, especially …

Apr 18, 2022