Wine Storage: If You Must Re-Cork

Re-cork or not to re-cork? That is the question. Well, no, the question is probably usually “Should I really finish this bottle of wine?” We aren’t here to tell you no or to judge you should you opt to polish off the bottle instead of saving it for another day. But, if you resolved to reduce your wine intake in the new year or are just a one-glass kind of person, we want to equip you to save the flavor of your wine. There’s nothing worse than saving a treat for yourself and then having that treat miss the mark.

So, here are a few tips and tricks for stretching that wine bottle without sacrificing it’s flavor.

Wine turns vinegary if you disrupt the balance of oxygen exposure. This is part of the reason why some winemakers prefer stainless steel wine barrels for fermentation and storage. Stainless steel wine drums are airtight whereas the classic oak barrel is more porous and has gaps between the staves which leads to an inconsistent exposure to oxygen. So the key to stretching and storing your opened bottle is all about oxygen control.

In response to the question we posed in the headline: yes, re-cork. Always re-cork. A recent article from Real Simple advises you to re-cork after each pour, even if you think you’re going to finish the bottle that night. While it’s often said that a wine (especially a red) needs to ‘breathe,’ sommeliers advise against leaving the cork off if there is even a glimmer of a chance you’ll be putting the bottle away unfinished. Instead, consider decanting what you’re going to imbibe or let the wine breathe in your glass.

Also regarding oxygen exposure: if you’re a save-the-bottle kind of person, avoid storing your wine sideways. This is a simple math equation. If you store your bottle on it’s side, you are increasing the surface area exposed to the air inside the bottle. Store it upright and you are decreasing this. This helps slow the oxidation process.

We’re pretty sure you’ve heard our next hot tip before, but as a reminder: store your wine in a cool and dark space. Below room temperature is ideal. While a refrigerator is not recommended for long-term wine storage, it is a great tool for open bottles (yes, even reds). The cool temperature keeps the wines molecules moving slower and therefore oxidizing slower.

Our last tip is to set yourself up for success. If you often find yourself drinking just one glass and/or storing open bottles for later, consider investing in a wine preserver. Or, as a smaller investment solution, pick up some half-sized bottles when you re-stock. That way, if you’re just in the mood for a glass or two, you’re all set. And, if you need to store that half-sized bottle after opening, it is a smaller bottle which means less oxygen stored with your wine.

So go forth and re-cork if you’re saving the rest of that bottle for later. Cheers and happy new year!