Preserve Opened Wine Without Fancy Gizmos

Sometimes you would like a glass of wine at home… but if you are the only person imbibing, or you and your partner aren’t up for finishing an entire bottle, what do you do with the unfinished portion?

Wine stores and websites will sell you all manner of devices claiming to preserve your leftover wine via various methods of removing air from the partial bottle to prevent oxidation. These usually involve a cork replacement through which either a reverse pump sucks out the air to create a partial vacuum or an inert gas is pumped in to replace the normal air.

But the point of these gadgets is to keep the wine from being in contact with air – so all you need is an appropriately-sized bottle with an airtight closure. This is what I use:

I have several glass bottles of various sizes with swing tops (also called “wire bail stoppers”):

The larger bottle is sized to hold what remains from a standard wine bottle after serving out two moderate or one large glass(es) of wine. Since the transferred wine fills the new bottle completely to the stopper, no air remains to cause oxidation. After serving another large glass another night, the remaining wine is again transferred to the smaller bottle. I also suggest refrigerating until next served.

While you could theoretically do this with any container that closes, IMO this type of bottle is superior for several reasons:

  • glass is less reactive than plastic, and cleans up better for reuse.
  • the stoppers with the bail are really airtight (which is why you can find certain beer bottles using them).
  • the narrow neck/opening reduces the exposed surface area of the wine, also slowing oxidation.

Do be aware that once you have opened the original bottle and transferred the leftover wine this method will not allow you to continue to store it indefinitely – the pouring will have aerated the wine to some extent. But if you plan to consume it within a week or less this will preserve the original taste better than just trying to jam the cork back in (or closing the screw top).

I obtained my swing-top bottles from China Fair on Mass. Ave. in Cambridge MA. Follow this link to find similar bottles on Amazon.

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