|The Wine Guy enjoying a nice|
Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon in Ecuador.
"Question for ya. If I want to enjoy a glass of red wine every evening and can't drink the entire bottle (duh) what is the best way to store it? A certain type of bottle topper? And how long can it sit out? I'm trying to find a red wine that is not expensive that is similar to a chianti or sangiovese flavor that I can enjoy. Any suggestions? Either my tastebuds change from the first night to the second or the wine taste sour. I don't get it. HELP MR. WINE GUY"
Never let it be said that The Wine Guy failed to respond to a cry for help, especially from a friend....so here goes:
One solution for our stressed friend is to start buying wine in splits (half-bottles) or minis (quarter bottles often sold in small 4-pack cartons). The minis are ideal since they contain roughly the equivalent of one glass of wine. You'll probably pay a slight premium for 4 minis over a a standard botle of the same wine but it's probably worth it to have a fresh glass every night. The challenge for my friend, however, may be in finding a suitable red wine. Commonly found in supermarkets, the offerings in these sizes tend to be softer, more fruit-forward and low cost younger wines. Those are the kind of wines preferred by the leading consumers of single serving wines, senior citizens. A little hunting, however, might lead to some viable discoveries. I recently saw splits of Brunello di Montalcino in two different retail establishments in Atlanta. In my friend's locale, World Market stores carry both splits and minis on a regular basis and should have at least a decent Cabernet Sauvignon. I've also seen regular stocks of South American Camenere in minis in a number of chain retailers with wine departments. It's worth a hunt and probably some taste sampling as well.
Solution number two: boxed wine! Boxed wine has a reputation for being cheap wine both in terms of price and quality but while that might have had some validity early on in its history, there are some quality wines being offered in the one liter sealed box that might be worth investigating. The one liter box will contain roughly 8 glasses of wine, about a week's worth for my friend's purposes. It will work because the wine is contained in the same type of collapsible airtight bags as those drink boxes we used to send with the kids in their lunch pails(maybe we still do...The Wine Guy is officially in the old, don't keep up with current kids trends anymore status). Most box wines are not exposed to aeration if they have a pop out tap type pour spout. Those with a simple open tab on top, however, won't work as well. Some wineries claim their boxed wine wine will stay fresh up to four weeks. In my humble opinion, under two is probably more realistic and certainly one is doable. However, as with the splits and minis, the problem is in finding the wine suitable to your palate. Simple whites, red blends and Spanish Sangria are the most common finds in boxed wines but a little hunting might produce some suprises. Some ex-patriot friends we had dinner with in a good Italian restaurant in Cuenca, Ecuador remarked at how good and afforable the house wine by the glass was (also available in a full and half carafe). I didn't have the heart to tell them it was a boxed wine, in fact, one that was available at their local supermarket!
O.K. Now let's get down to the real nitty-gritty. What my friend really wants is to buy a standard bottle of a desirable wine, have a glass or so and try to keep the bottle on hand for future sipping.
Realistically, this can happen but the practical limit without investment in a lot of fancy preservation systems is only three to four days. Let's cover the basics so my friend knows how to stretch a favorite bottle for all the time it's worth:
Wine, particularly aged red wine, has three enemies which will attack its ability to deliver all those wonderful flavors to your palate. Those three despicable villans are heat, air and sunlight. Shut them off after you've opened your bottle of wine and poured your first glass, and you've got a chance of preserving the aromas and flavors for later on. This involves resealing the wine and keeping it in a cool dark place. Simply recorking the bottle promptly and placing the bottle in your refrigerator should give you until the next evening. (Don't worry about chilling your red wine....simply cupping your hands around a glass of red wine for about 60 seconds will bring it right back to around 65 degrees, a good drinking temperature). If you need more than overnight, invest in a fairly affordable rubber valve stopper and manual vacumn pump to reseal your bottle and extract the air you allowed inside (remember, that air is one of your three critical enemies in terms of preserving the flavor of your wine). The use of a vacumn pump will probably give you an extra two, possibly three days of storage time. Your rate of success with a pump and cool storage of your wine will vary with the type and age of the particular wine. Also don't expect it to be 100% consistent in taste. No matter how meticulous you are in storage, there will some aeration of the wine involved and some evolution of the taste. Also remember that the more complex and older the wine, the more that some aeration will be essential for the most natural and best taste of the wine to develop.
Beyond what The Wine Guy has suggested here, it is possible to extend the life of an opened bottle of wine through a temperature and climate control system that also flushes the interior of the bottle with either nitrogen or one of the inert gases. These systems are utilized professionally in wine bars that offer ongoing tastings and a large number of wines by the glass. They are not cheap to purchase nor to maintain and even with those systems, the life expectancy on an open bottle of wine rarely extends beyond two weeks. Most good purveyors of wine by the glass will have a set policy for recording the opening of their bottles and a time to remove it from inventory suitable for serving customers.
In closing, my friend also asked for some affordable reccomendations for red wine. Since Chianti and Sangiovese were specifically mentioned, I'll stay mainly with some other great Italian selections. These would include a Montepulciano d' Albruzzo, a Bordolino, a "good" Valpolicella or a Sicilian Nero d' Avola. A reserve Chilean Carmenere, an Argentine Bonarda, a Spanish Borgia (sometimes labeled by its chief varietal Mencia and a Greek Naoussa would round out the list of wines I would suggest seeking out and sampling. Good representations of each one of these should be found at or under the $15 range.
I hope I was of assistance to my friend and hope my readers benefited from this response as well.
Take time soon to enjoy a glass of good wine. Sainte!