Dear Lifehacker, I am trying to think of ways to extend the shelf-life of opened bottles of wine. When I do drink wine, I enjoy a quality bottle. Often, I will have one glass of wine, and then not drink wine again for several days or even a week. Usually by the time I come back to the wine it is oxidised and undrinkable, and I just end up pouring expensive wine down the drain.
I have tried vacuum stoppers, refrigeration, vacuum stoppers and refrigeration; no matter what I try, after three or four days the wine has spoiled.
Recently, I resigned myself to just buying the better quality cask wines and avoiding the issue altogether. But now, I've had the idea of putting a couple of bottles of my nice wine directly into a cask bladder, and then drinking it over a month or two. So, after I finished a 1.5L cask, I rinsed out the bladder with water, let it drain as much as possible, and then filled it with two bottles of more expensive wine, being careful to ensure that as little air as possible was trapped in the bladder. So far it's been a week, and it seems to be working. Any thoughts on this or other strategies?
Thanks Cask At Hand
Picture by Steven Depolo
Intuitively, what you're doing seems like a bad idea, or at least no better than the other alternatives. You're likely to end up with some water in the wine, you're exposing the entire bottle to air in the process of transferring it, and you won't have the same equipment in place as a professional wine producer for filling the cask bladder. The higher volume of wine you're dealing with might slow the process of oxidisation a little, but ultimately that's going to happen no matter how you store it, and I don't know that you'll get a month out of the experience.
Unlike you, I've had success with vacuum stoppers in keeping red wine for a few days. With white wine, which more often than not has a screw cap these days, refrigeration seems fine for me too. One problem in trying to compare different methods is that you can only get an accurate idea of how well it works if you do the same thing repeatedly with different bottles. It's all too easy to give up and say "that didn't work" based on just a single experience.
But you know what the bottom line is? If you're happy with the wine you're drinking this way, that's what really matters. I suspect you won't really know how well this rebagging process works until you've tried it with a few more bottles -- you might find that it's not as impressive with another grape type or brand.
Experience ultimately suggests to me that wine, once opened, should be consumed within a few days. If you only want to drink wine occasionally, one possible solution is only to do so when you're dining with friends or family -- that way, the whole bottle will get consumed even though you'll only have a glass or two. I'm sure readers will have other strategies to share in the comments.
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