Mailbag Monday: Wasted Wine?

Hi Alleigh:
I do enjoy a glass of wine after a crazy, stressful day as a criminal defense attorney. I specialize in murders; so you can imagine. However, the problem I have is that if I drink just a glass, is the rest of the bottle wasted?  One glass leaves anywhere from one half to three quarters of the bottle left. Is that wine wasted?  Thus, defeating the purpose of having one glass after work.

This is a great question, and I think face the difficulty of not finishing a bottle in one sitting.

First, the wine is definitely not wasted!  While not the most elegant of solutions, the easiest thing to do is put the cork back in the bottle.  You’ll probably have to flip the cork over in order to get it to fit, but this should keep the bottle for another day or two.  In fact, some wines will actually taste better on the second day.

I also recommend putting the wine in the refrigerator once it’s open, regardless of the wine’s color.  This is simply my preference, but I’ve found that I can usually get an extra day out of the wine by doing this.  If it’s a red wine, I take the wine out before I’m ready to drink it, this way it has a chance to warm up a little.

Pictures of The Corker

Pictures of The Corker

David Honig used to write a blog called 2 Days Per Bottle that focused on the differences between how a wine tasted on the night the bottle was opened and how the wine tasted on the second night of drinking that same wine.  David has gone on to do other wine writing over at Palate Press, so he no longer updates 2 Days Per Bottle, but you may still be interested in looking at the blog for ideas on wines that can stand the test of an extra day or two.

While you didn’t mention it in your question, I will also add that most of the wine savers I’ve tried just don’t make that much of a difference.  That said, I do use The Corker, and it works surprisingly well, particularly with sparkling wine.  It was given to me as a present and I was VERY skeptical, but I find that my reds and sparkling wines will last about four or five days and my whites will last about a week.  There is definitely some change in the way the wine tastes, but that is to be expected since the wine is exposed to more air, even in the bottle. However, it is nice to have four days to finish a bottle instead of the two or three days that I get otherwise.

Finally, over the next couple of weeks, I will also be testing a new, non-vacuum wine saver that was sent to me as a sample—Wine Shield.  I’ll have to get back to you on how the Wine Shield works, though.

I hope this helps! Thanks for emailing.


Do you have a question?  Don’t be shy! Send me an email or leave your question as a blog comment!


  1. says

    This is a good topic and I think lots of people wonder about it. For me it’s not as much of an issue now that I live with my boyfriend. When we open a bottle of wine we share it. If for some reason there’s leftover wine, I put the white in the fridge and I don’t mind if it’s in there for a few days. The red I cork and keep on the counter. Depending on the brand and the type of wine it’s usually okay on the counter. There’s a few reds that I won’t leave on the counter and would prefer to just finish.

    • says

      Lisa–That is the one hard thing about Hubby not drinking…there’s no one to share a bottle with. As long as you have the counter space, you’re right about most reds being fine for a few days. We just have such a small kitchen that it’s usually better space-wise to stick everything that’s open in the fridge.

  2. L Green says

    There is a product available at most good wine shops and even some wine focused grocery stores under the name “Wine Preserver”. It’s main ingredient is an inert (odorless, colorless, harmless) gas called argon. Argon is heavier than oxygen, so when you spray it into the bottle, it sits on top of the wine. It stops the effects of oxygen, which is what causes the wine to go bad. You get about 120 uses for about $8. It can be used with olive oils, vinegar, sherries, etc too.

    Wine can be compared to milk, it last a lot longer in the refrigerator than it does on the counter…but it will still go bad. If you are going to drink it within a few days, the fridge works ok….but I prefer to have my wine as close to the quality of the first couple of opened hours as possible. I have heard of people getting a month’s extension on an opened bottle of wine with argon.

    By the way, I am in no way associated with the company that makes this product, and there may be other sources for it on the market. I have used the product as a wine rep, as a sommelier, and in my home.

    Incidentally….If you can help it, don’t turn the cork over to fit it in…you can introduce bacteria back into the bottle. In fact, once you pull the cork out originally, you should wipe the lip of the bottle with a clean cloth before pouring to prevent contamination. It’s hard to tell the difference between a hang over and a sour stomach from bacteria (but the less of either, the better!)

    • says

      Thanks for recommending one of the argon gas cartridge systems. I haven’t tried any of them, but I will definitely be on the lookout for one. I think one problem with a lot of these systems is that they can be expensive…maybe not initially, but the cost does add up. I couldn’t find the one you referenced, but most of the ones I’ve seen (like the Pek Preservino Hand Held Wine Preserver) run about $30 for the initial system and then about $10 for each additional four-pack of cartridges. That can add up quickly, particularly for the more casual wine drinker who is not used to investing in wine gadgets.

      That said, I definitely agree that it is better to use a wine stopper instead of reusing the cork. My suggestion to reuse the cork was really my trying to provide the most readily available solution. I should have been more careful in how I phrased it. While my own experiences have never lead to my being sick from turning the cork over that doesn’t mean it isn’t a possibility. Like you said, the fewer ill-effects, either from a hangover or from something bacteria related, the better!

  3. says

    We’ve never actually tried it, but did have a experienced pourer at a vineyard in Sonoma tell us to displace the air in an open bottle with clean glass marbles and then re-cork. Seems at least somewhat logical to me, and he said just to wash and reuse the marbles. But them maybe he was just pulling our leg…??

    • says

      Carol–I’ve never heard that about putting clean glass marbles into the bottle and then re-corking, but I’m definitely going to look into that idea. Did he happen to mention how long many days it would preserve the wine for, since I’m sure there will be some air getting in through the re-cork?

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