What? leftover wine you say? What do we do with it?
Well, we spotted a Laithwaites survey that revealed that British folk waste around 624 million bottles of wine each year – with some households pouring two full glasses of wine down the sink each week!
OK, so that may not seem like a lot but that works out at nearly half of that precious bottle. To look at it another way, all of this combined waste being flushed down the drain per year adds up to an equivalent of enough to fill 333 Olympic-sized swimming pools – and this is just in the UK!
Why do we do this? Well, some of it is down to confusion. We literally don’t know just how long we can keep the wine once it’s open and some wine drinkers think that it can go off overnight.
We will explain how to preserve your wine once it’s open but first let’s see why wine actually goes bad. Make sure you read through to the end because we have saved something special for last to make sure you are getting the most out of this information.
What you can find in this article:
1. Why does opened wine go bad?
2. How to know unopened wine has gone bad
3. How long can you keep opened red, white, or sparkling wine?
4. What are the best ways to keep wine fresh without a cork?
5. Keeping the fizz in your sparkling wine
6. Take the wine saving test!
WHY DOES OPENED WINE GO BAD?
Short answer: no one drank it fast enough and the contact with oxygen will make its preserver of sulfur dioxide (which is added to nearly all wines) dissolve into the air.
Why does opened wine go bad? Short answer: no one drank it fast enough and the contact with oxygen will make the preservant, sulfur dioxide, dissolve. CLICK TO TWEET
For a longer answer and intriguing read on why opened wine goes bad we recommend reading this article by Popsci (Popular Science: Why does wine go bad once you’ve opened it).
Another way opened wine goes off is due to alcohol oxidization. This causes the taste to turn bad and robs the wine of its fresh, fruity flavors. Both the disappearance of the sulphur dioxide and oxidation have a common denominator – they are both chemical reactions.
However, we are not all scientists – most of us are merely good old-fashioned wine lovers. Therefore it is good to know that we do not need to understand chemistry in order to preserve our favorite wines as the easiest way to slow both these processes is by lowering the temperature at which the wine is kept.
HOW TO KNOW UNOPENED WINE HAS GONE BAD
Keeping the wine cool is all well and good but how can you actually tell if your unopened bottle of wine has become undrinkable and save yourself from the unpleasant experience of consuming it?
The best way is to simply trust your senses. First smell the wine. Our noses are a very useful and primary indicator when it comes to spotting bad wine.
A damp basement, moldy or wet dog odor is a sign of contamination in your wine – usually due to cork taint. When it comes to cork taint, trust your first sniff as the smell will become less obvious with each subsequent one. Cork taint is a potent-smelling compound that can affect all wines, regardless of price or quality. It is produced by a fungi transferred from or through the cork on contact with compounds in the wines. The fungi is not naturally occurring but can arise through the processing of the wood itself. Cork taint is harmless but it will make your wine unpalatable.
Also if a wine is fermented without enough oxygen, a smell of rotten eggs, onions or cabbage could be present. As with a cork taint, this smell often disappears shortly after opening your wine, so trust your first instinct as the wine will most probably taste very bad.
To sum it up, a few telltale signs that could let you know wine has turned bad:
The smell is off. If the aroma of your wine is moldy or reminds you of a musty basement, wet carton, or vinegar, it’s turned bad. Another bad sign could be a heavy raisin like smell.
Your red wine tastes sweet. Your red wine shouldn’t taste like Port or any other dessert wine. This could indicate it has been overexposed to heat, and has become undrinkable.
Unopened bottle: the cork is pushed out slightly. When wine is overheated it will expand within the bottle and push the cork out. When this happens it should no longer be consumed.
The color has changed. For red wine a brown hue color is a strong indication the liquid is past its prime. For white wines a darkened to deep yellow, brownish straw colour means the wine has most likely turned.
You taste astringent or chemically flavours. If your wine lacks fruit, is raspy, too astringent, or has a paint-thinner taste it’s usually bad.
It tastes fizzy, but it’s not a sparkling wine. Still wine should not taste fizzy. When it does, this means it has undergone a second fermentation after the bottling and should not be consumed. (Source)
HOW LONG CAN YOU KEEP OPENED RED, WHITE, OR SPARKLING WINE?
Some evenings you might uncork a bottle to relax after a particularly busy day at work or you might host a lunch with wine for your clients – but if you don’t manage to finish the bottle, how long can you keep it and for how long will it stay fresh?
Laithwaite’s say that most wines will stay fresh for three to five days, while others suggest that it will last longer. A wines flavor may develop while drinking the wine by swirling the glass and introducing more contact with oxygen. However, generally to preserve the wine and to prevent oxidation, you will want to limit the time that the wine is exposed without being sealed.
This helpful infographic by Lacrema is a handy way of working out how long you can keep a bottle once opened. Depending on the wine, it should last between 1 and 7 days and with fortified wines, such as sherry and port, as long as stored correctly, they can last on average up to 28 days!
We still get asked every so often if you can keep wine fresh with a spoon or fork. However, it’s time to put this old wives tale to bed once and for all: storing a silver spoon in a bottle of sparkling wine does not keep the fizz in the bottle!
The old adage was that the metal from the spoon helps to cool the air inside the bottle making the air more dense and prevents the bubbles form escaping. However, the bubbles just bypass the spoon and float on up!
Don’t believe us? Have a look at what our friends from Mythbusters have to say on the topic.
So what can you do with leftover wine if you don’t plan on drinking it? Yes, believe it or not, leaving an opened bottle untouched is an option for many. Trust us here, it is not as mythical as some may think.
One reason for the remainder may be that the wine is just past its best and is no longer enjoyable to drink. While it might be tempting to flush it down the drain all is not lost just yet.
A great way to reduce an unwanted waste of wine and your money is by using the leftovers in your cooking. How about a Saturday brunch or a lazy Sunday accompanied by poached eggs in a red wine sauce?
Does this sound like too much work in the kitchen for the weekend? Then have a scroll through these 27 Genius Ways to Use Leftover Wine by Greatist – we are sure that there will be something here that will tempt you to get off the sofa.
Or what about these 6 Frighteningly Good things to do with Wine this Halloween? While this might seem like a stretch if you’re reading this on any other day but our favorite spooky holiday, the Red Wine Hot Chocolate or Caramel Apple Mimosas are a great talking point for any winter’s day or for a trendy get-together.
SO WHAT ARE THE BEST WAYS TO KEEP WINE FRESH WITHOUT A CORK?
One of the best ways to secure the flavor in your wine is with a high quality bottle stopper, like those we designed and manufactured at Avina Wine Accessories. This easy-to-use, ergonomically designed locking cap preserves open bottles of chilled white and rosé, as well as leftover red wine. They are much more effective than just putting back the cork or the screw-top. Avina’s bottle stopper is also spill proof – so you can even use it when lying open bottles on their side in the fridge.
However, if you don’t have a cork or stopper available to seal your wine bottle, the best method to preserve your wine is to use a small piece of plastic wrap to cover the mouth of the bottle, then secure with a rubber band.
If you don’t have a cork or stopper available to seal your wine bottle, use a small piece of plastic wrap to cover the mouth of the bottle, then secure with a rubber band. CLICK TO TWEET
In short: top tips on caring for your wine:
Seal the deal – wine will last longer than you think if it is stored and sealed correctly. Keep sparkling, rosé and white wines in the fridge, sealed with an airtight stopper and they will last up to five days. Pop a stopper in red wine and it too will last from three to five days
Lower the temperature – put any leftover wine in the refrigerator. Lowering the temperature will slow down the chemical process responsible for making the wine go bad..
Consider sweeter dessert wines – consider a fortified wine as these wines are meant to last. Sherry, port and madeiras will keep for weeks with the cap on or sealed with a stopper
Straighten up – store your bottle upright if possible. Bottles stored horizontally will expose a greater surface of the liquid inside to oxygen.
One at a time – if you are hosting a party, try to finish one bottle off before you open the next and keep your eye on which wines guests are enjoying to avoid opening wines that might not be so popular, leaving you with several half bottles of wine to store.
The main thing to remember when storing wine is that heat and light are big factors in wine turning bad. In order to be able to still enjoy your fantastic grape juice later on make sure to avoid these two killers.
The main thing to remember when storing wine is that heat and light are big factors in making wine turn bad. Avoid these two menaces like the plague in order to be able to enjoy your fantastic wines later on.
If you’re consuming wine on a more regular basis it might be worth considering investing in a wine fridge or similar type of cooler. As mentioned previously, lowering the temperature of the wine you are trying to store will slow down the chemical process responsible for turning the wine. The most common way for wine to go bad is for the wines added preservative, sulfur dioxide, to dissolve into the air it came in contact with.
Storing your wine in a cool place will not keep it from going bad but it will slow down the process responsible for making you unable to enjoy your favorite bottle.
When it comes to exposure to light make sure you are storing your wines, opened or unopened, away from a window to avoid the light and heat and subsequent discoloration.
At Avina, we have been battling wine wastage for years. In due course, we designed and manufactured the ultimate solution to this problem. If you are looking for an easy-to-use, leak proof and airtight solution for your open wine surplus, you can now get it at a -20% Discount from Amazon by clicking the image above or by clicking here.
Another popular way to preserve opened wine is by using a vacuum pump – however, there are many objections to the effectiveness of this method.
Many claim that these pumps create only a partial vacuum, meaning that the wine is still exposed to oxygen and is therefore still vulnerable to oxidization.
Another side to the argument is that by creating a pressure difference in the bottle with the vacuum, you are extracting the delicious aromas from the wine which can affect the taste. When observing the vacuum process closely, you can see little bubbles escaping from the wine when under the vacuum providing evidence for this claim.
BUT WHAT ABOUT KEEPING THE FIZZ IN YOUR SPARKLING WINE?
Champagne is not the cheapest of wines and if we find ourselves having to throw half of the bottle away as it has gone flat – that is a less than ideal situation.
As discussed previously there are many popular wives tales about keeping sparkling wine fresh, including replacing the cork with a piece of bread or keeping a silver spoon inside the champagne bottle. We debunked these theories earlier with the help of Mythbusters.
Moreover, using a vacuum pump on a sparkling wine won’t work as you would simply be pulling out all the air responsible for creating those delicious bubbles in the first place.
So what can you do?
Here are three methods that most wine experts agree on: buy a good quality, recommended sparkling wine or Champagne, use a Premium Champagne Stopper whilst drinking and storing the bottle upright and arguably most important of all, keep the bottle cold (does this sound familiar by now?).
Three methods most can agree on for longer preservation of fizz in your sparkling wine are buying a high quality champagne, using a premium champagne stopper, and arguably most important of all keeping it cold. CLICK TO TWEET
Keeping sparkling wine in the fridge is proven to help preserve these wines as the cooler temperatures help to maintain the presence of carbon dioxide, the naturally occurring chemical compound responsible for creating the bubbles.
Another great way to make sure that not a drop of sparkling wine goes to waste is by using it as a mixing component for other drinks. Especially in summer, these refreshing beverages are very popular and knowing how to quickly mix up a batch could enhance your party and help you to keep some notes in your wallet.
How does the sounds of Peach Prosecco Party Punch grab you? There is something about bubbles and fizz that makes it the perfect match for any social gathering, and by learning these top 3 refreshing wine drink recipes you will never have to waste another drop.Well, there you have it. The most important tips in keeping your wine fresh and enjoyable by preserving it to the last sip.
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