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The Secrets to Storing an Opened Bottle of Italian Wine

So you have a friend around and you decide to open a nice bottle of Italian wine.

You assume that you’re going to get through the entire bottle together. After all, you’ll usually polish it off between the two of you on a normal night.

But then it happens.

You just about finish your first glass of wine and your friend gets called away. They can’t stay to help you finish and you’re not going to drink it all yourself.

That means you’re left with an opened bottle of wine.

And if you’re not going to see your friend for a few weeks, that’s a death sentence for the bottle. By the time they come back around, the wine will have gone off.

It’s probably a familiar situation to a lot of people reading this. Or, you’ve had some situation where you’ve opened a bottle of Italian wine and not consumed it all in one sitting. Maybe you just fancied a glass on a quiet night in but didn’t want to drink the whole bottle.

Whatever the case may be, you’ve got an open bottle on your hands. The good news is that you don’t have to lose the wine.

With the right storage techniques, you could make that open bottle last a lot longer that you might expect. Here are the secrets to storing opened bottles of wine.

Secret #1 – Recork it Correctly

The first step to storing a bottle of Italian wine is to reseal it correctly.

There are a few ways to do this. If you have a screw cap, it’s a simple case of popping the cap back onto the bottle. There are also vacuum pumps that you can use to get rid of the air in the wine so that it maintains its integrity.

But let’s assume that those aren’t options for you.

All you have is the cork that you took out of the bottle in the first place. That means you’re going to have to recork the wine.

Now, here’s the secret.

Do notuse the clean side of the cork to reseal the bottle. Put the cork back in the exact way that it was when you pulled it out.

Here’s why. That “clean” part of the cork has been exposed to the outside world far more than the stained side that was inside the bottle. That means it’s oxygenated and possible carrying all sorts of bacteria that could destroy the quality of the wine in the bottle.

Secret #2 – Store it Standing Up

You can store wine on its side when it’s unopened with very few issues.

But you should avoid doing it with an open bottle of wine. The simple reason is that storing the wine on its side exposes more of its surface area to the air.

Think about it like this. A bottle of wine has a length and width. When the wine’s standing upright, only the surface of the wine running along the width gets exposed to the air.

When it’s on its side, you’re increasing the exposure to the entire length of the bottle.

Simply put, don’t slide your bottle of wine back into the rack when you’re done with it. Stand it upright in a cool, dark place if it’s a bottle of red. If it’s white wine, you can place it in the fridge, assuming it’s the appropriate temperature. You might be able to do this with a bottle of red as well. However, you’ll need to ensure the temperature is just right in these cases.

Another neat trick is to transfer the wine into a smaller bottle of vessel. This cuts down on the surface area issue even more. However, you have to do it quickly as the wine gets exposed to the air when you pour.

Secret #3 – Avoid Windows and Sources of Natural Light

The same rules that apply to storing unopened wine apply doubly for an open bottle.

If the bottle’s exposed to natural light, it’s going to lose some of its quality and become discoloured.

This is an easy issue to solve when you’re putting the bottle away at the end of the night. However, it’s when drinking that this problem can trip you up.

Let’s say you’ve opened a bottle of wine and poured out a couple of glasses. You pop the bottle onto the table next to the window and start chatting away.

And hour later, your friend has to leave.

That bottle’s just spent an entire hour next to a window that’s letting in natural light.

As a result, it’s going to have lost some of its integrity before you ever get around to storing it again.

So, that’s a good secondary tip for storing opened bottles of wine. Think about where you’re putting the wine while you’re drinking. It may be worth putting it in the fridge after the first pour so that you can avoid this issue.

Secret #4 – Consider Using Specialist Tools

This is a useful tip for anybody who regularly buys Italian wine at the higher end of the price scale.

We’ve already mentioned the vacuum pumps that can suck all of the air out of a bottle. But there’s another useful tool that you can use on corked bottles that means you don’t have to open them at all.

It’s called a Coravin.

The tool is essentially a needle that you push though the cork. As you do so, it creates an Argon gas seal that preserves the wine’s integrity.

When you want a glass, just remove the needle and pour. Replace it when you’re done and you create the seal again. Plus, you ensure that very little oxygen gets into the bottle.

The Final Word

You can preserved opened bottles of Italian wine, assuming you know what you’re doing. 

Follow these tips and the wine will last a little longer. But bear in mind that an opened bottle will still lose its integrity faster than an unopened bottle, no matter what you do.

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