Keeping an Open Bottle of Red Wine

Storing an Open Bottle of Wine

I'll note that we did this test after a matching test with white wine. After we finished tasting the white wines, we took a break to rest our palates. We had an appetizer of chicken stir fry, and then drank a fair amount of water and crackers. Once we were ready for round two, we began.

We pulled out the four bottles of Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon (1998 Founders' Estate, $10) that we had put into the fridge on Tuesday evening. We have: Keeping an Open Bottle of Red Wine
  • One cork-in-bottle 750ml, half empty.
  • One Vacu-vinned 750ml bottle, air "removed".
  • One gassed N2/Ar/CO2 750ml bottle, layer of gas on wine.
  • One decanted 375ml bottle, NO air.

Once again, the "research assistant" rearranged the bottles and made sure to bring us the samples blind. In this case, though, we let all of the wines (including the control bottle, which had been stored along with the rest) come up to a proper serving temperature for a few minutes.

Keeping an Open Bottle of Red Wine

Bob first brought us over a freshly opened bottle of the 1998 Cabernet which had been stored in the fridge right along with the rest, so the temperatures would match exactly. This was labelled #0. It was slightly tannic, fruity, with flavors of pepper. A drinkable cab.

Comparison #1

: This was slightly more tannic than the original - actually the fruit and flavors had diminished slightly, leaving it with a heavier tannic flavor. It still had a sharp and peppery aspect to it, though. Reasonably good.

Comparison #2

: This was very aciddy, little fruit, hardly any aroma to it. The flavor was much worse than the original, and was voted the worst of the bunch.

Comparison #3

: A bit dull, but not overly tannic. It retained its fruity flavors and general balance.

Comparison #4

: Fruity, lively, relatively close to what the control was, still a bit duller. A relative tie to #1 in how well it held up.

Overall the group placed the ranking from best to worst as:
0 - best
4/1 tie - still tasty
3 - dull
2 - worst

What were the methods used on these comparison samples?

0: The Original

: As stated, this was the basis we were comparing against.

1: Private Preserve gas

: A layer of heavy gas blankets the surface of the wine

2: Normal cork-in-bottle

: This regular 750ml bottle simply had a cork stuck in it.

3: Half bottle of wine

: No air at all in the bottle

4: Vacu-Vin

: This was pumped 15 times and had much of the air removed.

What did the results tell us? That air was very bad for a red wine - much worse than the effect the vacu-vin or gas had on the wine. The gas and vacu-vin kept the air away, helping it last the few days in a reasonably drinkeable state. If you are holding on to a bottle of red, it might be worth it to get one of these devices to store them, but note in no case was the end result as good as the initial wine. You might want to use the rest to cook with, and open a fresh bottle!

How about aging a wine for more or less time? The thought is that a wine aged for fewer days would show less degradation. We are considering doing a one-day test to see if there is a large drop-off after the first day, or if it is gradual. General consensus is that after 3 days there is a huge drop-off, so letting a wine sit for a week would turn it into something good to cook with, but not much else. Life is too short to drink bad (or old) wine!

Keeping an Open Bottle of Wine - the basics
Keeping an Open Bottle of White Wine

All content on the WineIntro website is personally written by author and wine enthusiast Lisa Shea. WineIntro explores the delicious variety and beautiful history which makes up our world of wine! Lisa loves supporting local wineries and encouraging people to drink whatever they like. We all have different taste buds, and that makes our world wonderful. Always drink responsibly.