As soon as you uncork a bottle, and wine is exposed to air, a process known as oxidation begins, which causes the wine to eventually lose its flavors, colors and aromas. So, what can you do after your dinner party guests have left, and you find yourself with partially consumed bottles of wine?
First, to help preserve the quality of the wine for a longer period of time, you should keep the leftover wine in the refrigerator as lower temperatures slow the pace of the chemical changes caused by oxidation. In addition, you can use one of the following approaches…
Transfer the wine to a smaller container
The best way to store leftover wine without spending any extra money on gadgets is to put unused wine into a small bottle or jar. Once you’re sure your container is clean of any residue, pour in the wine so that it’s as close to full as possible (leaving no room for extra oxygen), then seal the container.
“Gas” the Wine
Canned pressurized gases can be squirted directly into a partially-full bottle of wine, coating the surface and protecting it from oxygen. These types of products are available for under $10.
“Vacuum” the Wine
Use a pump to draw excess air out of the bottle. These devices are available starting at under $20.
Use a Stopper
Different types of “champagne stoppers” are available for sparkling wine. They help keep pressure in and keep oxygen out. It is also good to have a basic rubber stopper on hand in case you open a bottle of wine and the cork breaks or swells, making it impossible to reuse.
Use the Wine for Cooking
Another way to enjoy your leftover wine is to use it for cooking. It is fine to use a wine that is a little past peak freshness for cooking—you can add it to a sauce or a marinade, use it for braising meats or use it to flavor desserts. For more tips on cooking with wine, click Cooking with Wine.