Monday, February 18, 2013

Drink the rest later, babe!*

*(not sure if I can pull off "babe")

Live alone? Want to open a new bottle for each course? Just trying to cut back on your drinking? Don't chug the rest of that bottle! I will show you how to save it! Here is a Venn Diagram.

(This is original artwork copyright Ali Schouten 2013)

First thing you to know is: all wines do not save equally. There are a few factors that help wine save. The first shouldn't surprise anyone. These two ingredients have saved me on more than one occasion. They are alcohol and sugar. Fortified wines crush it when it comes to saving. Keep that good Madeira or Porto til whenever. You know that scene in "Pirates of the Caribbean: One of These Movies" when Johnny Depp and Kiera Knightly are on a deserted island and they find that super old rum to drink and it's still good but then Kiera I think doesn't actually drink it but not because it's bad, I think there's a larger plot at work here? Right, exactly. Rum has high alcohol and high sugar, so it lasts forever. The closer your wine is to rum, the closer it is to forever.

"But wait," you say. "I don't like too much booze or sweetness. I've cut back on these things and talk about it constantly." To you I say, "Weird, I didn't know I was friends with dicks, but ok. Don't sweat it. Keep reading this current blog post you are currently reading." A full-bodied, tannic red will also keep pretty well if stored properly (see below). Next, you have your non-aromatic, acidic whites, and finally, keeping the shortest amount of time, your aromatic whites. But even these will keep a day or so if handled with care.

So how does this look? Pretty good? NO, TERRIBLE. Well, not entirely. The first rule of saving wine is to keep it cold. Heat releases aromatics and like most classy things, once aromatics are gone, they're never coming back (I am not an aromatic. There's a couple ex-boyfriends I would like to stress this to). So keep that wine cold, in the fridge or by a window in winter when you're too cheap to pay for heat. Like I did with that meh Viognier from last week, except that I ruined it by not following the rest of the rules in this blog post.

As I'm sure all you loyal readers remember, this was a delicate wine without a much acidity but with some subtle aromatics. This wine was going to be tough to keep even before I SCREWED EVERYTHING ELSE UP ENTIRELY.

How could I have potentially avoided this? A few ways. In order to keep out excess oxygen, you want to transfer wine to the smallest vessel available and then seal it off. If you have one of those cool things that you pump and then the air comes out (I have one, I just can't remember what it's called), use that. It's very hip to oxygenate or decant all wines these days. Not really necessary in most cases, plus this'll make wine harder to save. So if you're thrifty, oxygenate your wine the old fashioned way, with air, and make it easier to drink tomorrow. You also want to make sure you keep the cork, or better yet, a reusable, sealing cork, moist. Just like you'd store wine you hadn't opened on its side, so too should an open wine be horizontal. You know, I feel like there's so low-hanging fruit in the form of a sex joke here, and I'm not going to make it because of my dignity. Please notice that maturity if you are one of the ex-boyfriends to whom I am not gone forever.

Finally, there are Wine Preservers that Shelby Ledgerwood says work very well. And if worst comes to worst, there's always drinking it! There's always, always drinking it.

(Ah, much better! Sealed and sideways, save away!)


  1. Dear wise Ali,

    How would you store 2.5 buck Chuck? And what is that bastard's life span?

    The Curious Wine with the Yellow Hat.

    1. Hi Curious!

      Charles Shaw, generally speaking, isn't a subtly aromatic wine, so you're not at risk for losing out in that regard. Otherwise it depends on the varietal, but I would generally say for this wine you could make it last at least a week, sealed off, in the fridge. I'm guessing their Cabernet is reasonably tannic and I know their Sauvignon Blanc is quite acidic, so those might last even longer. I keep a bottle of this brand of Pinot Grigio on-hand for cooking, and leave that in there up to six weeks and it's fine.

      Hope that helps!