How to ‘stop’ your wine bottle, obviously.. not how to stop drinking!
As much as we love wine, sometimes you just can’t finish a whole bottle. Whether you want a quiet glass by yourself to unwind or you’re sharing a single glass with someone – you are going to be left with the lion share of your bottle. In some cases, you simply won’t open a bottle of wine if you only intend on having one glass. That’s not really the right frame of mind to be in! Wine is made to be enjoyed and you don’t always have to build up to a moment you know you’re going to smash a whole bottle. I know plenty people that would shy away from keeping wine for a day or two, but there are certainly good reasons to do it !
It makes some wine taste better !
If you have ever opened a bottle of wine, poured your glass and even after airing it out you notice its just too ‘big’, that is, too acidic, too tannic or just all-round unpleasant, stop the bottle and pop it in the fridge (or a cool place if its is around 10°C (50°F) and try again on day 2 and 3. As the wine slowly oxidises, often tannins are smoothed and acids become more mellow (at least perception wise) and the wine suddenly tastes miles apart from the first time you tried it. If you are a wine geek like us, you’ll find plenty joy in trying the wine at different intervals to learn exactly when the ‘peak’ is and when it’s finally gone. I know some wines that have peaked after being open a shocking 2 weeks ! It sounds odd, but its true.
Not all wine stoppers out there are made equal however. Below we have an overview of the most common and our reccomendations.
These types of wine bottle stoppers are all over the place. I think I have a few at home that I didn’t actually buy. They just turn up some how, in Christmas crackers, bad touristy gifts (my personal favourite, including the heads of the big 5 animals) and so on. Often they are made of metal or glass with a rubber seal. Good to use if you have anything else at hand, but I am not much of a fan.
Depending on the type of cork your wine has and how quickly it ‘inflates’ back to normal size, you can stop your wine bottle with it’s original cork to store it. Normally you can fit it back in about half way fairly easily and that’s where you want it. When not using the method below, this is my chosen method for stopping an open wine bottle. Many wine makers do this as well, and often have at least 3/4 bottles open in this manner, laying around – as it allows a slow oxidation of the wine. Also, there is certainly something charming about seeing a wine bottle with a cork sticking out ain’t there ?
I can highly recommend the Vacu vin – as I think for the price, you cannot really get a better product that will keep your wine for longer. Unlike the cork and stopper, the wine is stopped with a rubber stopper which has tiny one way air valves and through the use of the separate pump, you can remove most of the air inside the bottle. This means you have a much slower oxidation of the wine and it will therefore stay for longer. This is very useful for wines you want to store for a day or two that are already tasting great, wines that you don’t want to change in profile too much, such as a vibrant white or light red. It will still allow a gentle oxidation, but much less than the two options above.
The Coravin has to be the best device available (for now) when it comes to preserving ‘opened’ wine. It is also probably the most expensive! The coravin allows you to pour any amount of a wine you wish, from a bottle without ever pulling the cork. That means you can pour a single glass of that extra special bottle you have in your cellar and pop it right back to taste another day, possibly even over a course of a few years. I personally have plenty wines in my collection that I would absolutely love to taste but, because I know I would have to drink the whole bottle in a relatively short period, feel as though I need to wait for the right moment. Let’s say you have a vintage bottle that you are dying to know if it is still improving, at maturity or even going passed its best. With this device you could try a small amount of that browning 20+ year old wine and know for sure if it is worth keeping or if it is time to be enjoyed ! It’s certainly a game changer for wine bars who can now offer ultra premium wines by the glass at more affordable prices.
How does it work ? The device uses a surgical style needle to pierce through the cork, then an inert gas (argon) is added to the bottle to pressurize it and allow pouring through the needle. The wine inside the bottle never comes into contact with any oxygen (air). Once the needle is pulled out, the cork naturally reseals the wine and allows the wine to continue aging as if nothing ever happened.
The reality of it though is that the wine left in the bottle will not mature the same way any longer. The fact that an inert gas is added to the bottle will in some very slight way affect how the wine would have naturally matured over time through very gentle oxidation. I’d be surprised through if casual and even experienced drinkers would note the difference though.
Happy Tasting !