Keeping an Open Bottle of White Wine

How Long does an Open Container Last?

OK, here we are on Friday, October 27th. We pulled out the four bottles of Kendall Jackson Chardonnay (1998 Vintner's Reserve, $12) that we had put into the fridge on Tuesday evening. Our test cases were:

Keeping an Open Bottle of White 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.

Our "research assistant", i.e. my boyfriend Bob, worked on the wines where we could not see his actions. We had only water and wine crackers to cleanse the palate between comparisons, and we moved quickly so that they would all stay at roughly the same temperature. We did go back and forth between them after they were served, to make sure our judgements did not have to do with the order in which we tasted our samples.

Note that a question we had was regarding how much air a vacu-vin really did remove, and how much was still removed after 3 days. After considering a number of ways to test this, we decided on something simple. We took a ziplock bag and fluffed it out, and placed it over the neck of the bottle. We then pinched it closed around the neck and used the bag to squeeze open the seal while it stayed inside the bag. A large portion of the air inside the bag was sucked down into the bottle - the seal had held.

Keeping an Open Bottle of White Wine

Bob first brought us over a freshly opened bottle of the 1998 Chardonnay which had been stored in the fridge right along with the rest, so the temperatures would match exactly. This was labelled #0. It was lemony, smooth, fruity. A very nice Chardonnay, one that appealed even to the non-Chardonnay fans in the group.

Comparison #1

: This first struck us as being vinegarry. It was not as smooth as the original, the fruit was definitely gone.

Comparison #2

: This one was smooth and lemony, relatively close to the original. It perhaps had a little less fruit and a little less body, but it was still quite in balance and very drinkeable.

Comparison #3

: This was extremely dull. It has lost most of its flavor, and was the worst of the bunch.

Comparison #4

: This one was fresh and fruity, lively, very nice. We all agreed that this was by far the best of the group.

Overall the group placed the ranking from best to worst as:

0 - best
4 - nice
2 - drinkable
1 - lost fruit
3 - worst / dull

What were the methods used on these comparison samples?

0: The Original

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

1: Vacu-Vin

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

2: Normal cork-in-bottle

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

3: Private Preserve gas

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

4: Half bottle of wine

: With no air at all in the bottle, this was the clear winner!

We were all pretty amazed by the results. Compared to just sticking a cork in the bottle, the vacu-vin and the gas system made the wine worse instead of just not doing any good. It actually harmed the wine involved, compared to simply using a cork on a bottle. The best solution by far was to pour the wine into a smaller bottle so there was no air, and storing it in that manner.

It seems that for whites, you should keep a half bottle lying around to pour your extra into when you are done for a day. Pop this into the fridge, and you can have just-opened flavor for at least three days!

Keeping an Open Bottle of Wine - the basics
Keeping an Open Bottle of Red 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.