February 2, 2011
More tips on wine preservation


By Chris Macias, Bee Food and Wine Writer

My "Wine Buzz" column today tested out some new wine preservation systems that were on display at last week's Unified Wine & Grape Symposium. It's a hot topic both for restaurateurs who literally don't want to pour their profits down the drain when wine goes bad, and I regularly receive e-mails from readers who want advice about extending the shelf life of their wine once the bottle's been open.

The enemy here is oxygen, which in small amounts is necessary to "open up" a wine - which is why young wines are typically decanted for at least 30 minutes to soften. But with too much exposure to air, chemical reactions cause wine to oxidize and lead to deterioration in taste and color. That's why so many wine preservers are on the market, from the Wine Shield to high-end Enomatic systems designed for wine bars.

Wine preservers geared for the home tend to have mixed results. And I know of at least one high-end local restaurant that doesn't use a wine preserver for its by-the-glass program because the wine director still feels nuances in wine still get lost, no matter how much nitrogen and argon gas is pumped into a bottle for preservation.

For wine drinking at home, I got a good preservation tip this morning from Kurt Burris, a local wine salesperson. He says: "Here is an idea for those who want to save wine. Keep a couple of smaller bottles, one 375 ml and one 187 ml, clean and pour your leftovers in, using a clean funnel. Cork, refrigerate (this slows the oxidation) and enjoy later. Or just drink it all which is my preferred solution."

Keep in mind that some bottles simply show better on the second day. For me, this holds true for young Bordeaux and full-bodied domestic reds. And for those nights when I just want to have a single glass, I skip the preservers and opt for a 375 ml half bottle. I wish more local wine shops carried a larger selection of half bottles, but I've had good luck at Corti Brothers, Taylor's Market, Capitol Cellars and Total Wine & More in Roseville.

Anyone else have tips for keeping an opened bottle fresh? Leave a comment ... grazie!

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