Kitchen Tips

How to prolong the life of leftover wine

What do you do if you can’t drink the entire bottle in one evening? Wine writer Bob Campbell has top tips for prolonging the shelf-life of wine once opened.

Tips for keeping leftovers, from wine writer Bob Campbell

What do you do if you can’t drink the entire bottle in one evening? When red wine is first exposed to air it can improve for a few hours as it “opens up” allowing previously locked-in aromas to be appreciated. The same is true for some white wines, particularly wines that have been in the bottle for a few years or for wines sealed with an airtight screwcap.
Inevitably wine in an opened bottle will deteriorate. The downward slide may begin in a few hours or take as long as 24 hours before wine begins to appreciably lose quality. Warmer wines deteriorate quicker than cooler wine. Big, robust reds tend to last longer than delicate white wines. Wine that has been sloshed into a decanter is likely to “open up” more quickly and ultimately deteriorate more rapidly than the same wine left in bottle.

1. Put it in the fridge

Milk, lettuce and wine all last longer when chilled. Leftover wine after a party typically gets put in the fridge in the case of white wine, or sealed and put on the sideboard in the case of red. Always put both white and red in the fridge – you can double the life of leftovers if you chill it to fridge temperature. When you are ready for another glass of red you can simply warm it in the microwave.

2. Use an aeration device

You will shorten the life of wine leftovers if you decant the wine and expose it to more air than it would contact if it was simply poured from the bottle. Decanting is a good idea of you plan to drink the whole bottle but if you only want a glass or two use an aeration device that fits in the neck of the bottle and only aerates the wine you pour.

3. Use re-sealable half bottles

If you only plan to drink half a bottle buy and save a few half bottles (375ml) with screwcaps. When you open a 750ml bottle carefully decant half its contents into a half bottle and attach a sticky label showing the name of the wine. Seal the screwcap tightly and the wine in the half bottle should stay fresh for up to a year, sometimes more.