Wine lovers sometimes get headaches because they do not know how to store wine without a cork – does this sound familiar to you? Storing wine is not difficult if you only have a few bottles and can use them all in the coming days. But if it is a year-end party or a gathering of friends, there is a high chance that the alcohol won’t be used up all in one go.
Can they be stored as normal or is there a special condition to ensure that the remaining wine in the bottle will not be affected? That’s a big concern because no one wants their quality wine to spoil quickly in a short amount of time. In this article, you will know how to store wine after opening without a cork and tips to maintain the quality of wine for as long as possible.
Why Do You Need To Store Wine?
As in our previous post, wine cooler vs mini fridge, wine coolers’ temperature falls between 41°F (5°C) to 65°F (18°C) and wine needs to be stored in that range. Humidity also plays a big role here because a dry environment will shrink the cork and allow air to get in.
From the moment you open a bottle, oxygen has come into contact with the wine, and as the clock tickles, excessive amounts of oxygen turn the wine into vinegar. This is called oxidation. That said, wine storage is the process of protecting the wine from external elements, ensuring that the original properties of the wine are preserved.
Basic Wine Storage Practices
If you don’t intend to age your wine for a few years to a decade, there’s no need to invest in a cellar or a dedicated garage. Here are a few simple guidelines that will help you succeed in preserving your wine.
Remember that wine is best stored between 45°F (7°C) to 65°F (18°C) so keep it relatively cool. But, not too cool – like your home refrigerator or a mini-fridge because its temperature often drops below 40° F (4°C) so it lacks the moisture and humidity needed for wine. Please note that the temperature needs to be stable and cannot fluctuate as the cork will expand and contract, allowing air to penetrate.
A humidity of 50 to 70 percent is great as a dry environment will shrink the cork while too much moisture will form mold. According to Masterclass, the ideal range is between 60 and 68 percent.
- Avoid vibrations and heat
Avoid shaking or anything that causes vibration at all costs as frequent disturbances will accelerate chemical reactions that change its taste. Also, keep the wine away from direct sunlight and heat sources such as radiators and fires if you don’t want the wine to be cooked. Incandescent bulbs can be a safer choice than fluorescent bulbs because they emit a small amount of ultraviolet light.
- Store your wine upright
Last but not least, store your bottles upright rather than on their sides (except for unopened bottles). A new bottle can be stored on the side as it keeps the cork moist and remains tightly sealed. However, an opened bottle needs to stand upright to reduce the surface area exposed to oxygen.
How To Store Wine Without A Cork for Red wine, White wine…
Don’t panic if you can’t find the cork as there are several ways to ensure that you are giving your wine the proper care it deserves.
- Find alternatives like a wine stopper online or at liquid stores. They are made of plastic or metal and create an airtight seal.
- Make your own cork using materials in your kitchen. Roll and fold paper towels or aluminum foil, then cover the top of the bottleneck with plastic wrap. You can use a rubber band around it for extra protection.
- Store in smaller bottles by carefully decanting your wine. If you have half a bottle of wine left in a standard bottle (750 mL), that equates to half a bottle of oxygen. So, pouring wine into a smaller bottle not only removes the build-up sediment but also has less space for air to remain.
- Invest in wine preservation systems such as:
- A vacuum pump sucks out all the air inside your bottle before you reseal it. This makes sure no air is left inside that could damage your wine. This is commonly used in bars and restaurants as it extends the life of the bottle up to 2 weeks after opening.
- Inert wine gas by using a Private Preserve or the Coravin Wine Preservation System for a more fancy experience. These products help replace any oxygen in the bottle as they contain argon and nitrogen gas. This way your bottle of wine will look new and as if it was never opened.
- Turn your wine into ice cubes using an ice tray with a tight-fitting lid and freezing it until it turns solid. It is convenient for cooking or serving as a tasteful “wine cooler” when mixed with soda, sugar, lemon juice, and a few pieces of fruit.
The list above is the answer to the question of how to store wine without a cork. You can try these methods, and also apply the wine storage practices to double the protective effect.
Please be cautious that these methods only work with red and white wines because sparkling water gets flat quickly. Using a vacuum to suck the oxygen out is a bad idea because it removes the carbonation out as well. Fortunately, you can purchase a champagne stopper as it maintains the bubbles in the carbonated drinks well.
List 7 Types of Corks used for wine and their characteristics
1. Natural Cork
Natural cork is the bark of the Cork Oak Tree (Quercus Suber) which grows in Portugal and Spain. It has been used to seal wine bottles since the late 1500s, but by no means is it perfect as a sealant, due to its varying quality and natural faults that lead to random seepage or leakage at some point after bottling.
The best corks are made from secondary growth i.e., if a branch was cut off, then another one grew back in place of it – this layer is called “burr” – but once you get away from this area, the quality greatly decreases. In fact there’s even a term for this decrease in quality – “corked wine” or a corked bottle of wine is one where the cork has started to spoil and is causing off flavours in the wine. A cork will become tainted with TCA (2,4,6-trichloroanisole) which is caused by fungus growing on certain corks.
2. Synthetic Cork
Synthetic corks are made from various polymers (plastics). They were first used in the 1960s when the demand for real natural cork began to outstrip supply. The biggest drawbacks are that they don’t allow wines to breathe as well after bottling and due to their strong chemical make-up some believe there is a slight off-putting smell/flavour which can affect the wine.
Synthetic corks are generally considered to be more consistent in their quality than natural cork, however they are also more expensive because they have an intricate structure of micro-pores added. This allows them to form tighter seals with the bottles and still allow some air transfer, hence allowing wines to age gradually over time without oxidising.
3. Champagne/ Sparkling Wine Cork
Corks used for champagne or sparkling wine have an extra band of string around them called the “punt”. This is done so that when you remove the crown cap from a bottle of sparkling wine, there’s actually something left for you to grasp onto if it’s too fizzy when you first open it.
This extra band also helps to reinforce the cork so that it won’t crumble if the bottle is kept in an ice bucket with wet towels draped over it or something similar.
4. Grainy (Agglomerate) Cork
This type of cork is made up of ground up natural corks which are then melted together and reformed into a large grain, which resembles wood-pulp paper, hence the name “grainy”.
This is where this particular cork gets its faults due to its manufacturing process. The grains might be uneven so they don’t fit properly into the neck of the bottle, allowing for seepage after bottling Other problems can include random pieces of cork breaking off into the wine. Because of this, they are generally looked down upon in some wine circles.
5. Capped Cork
Capped corks are used on some wines that don’t have the budget to use alternatives, or perhaps aren’t available at the time of bottling. They are sealed with a plastic cap which is melted onto the bottle using heat from an industrial butane-powered machine.
This ensures a tight seal, but once more there’s no air transfer through it so it’s up to you to make sure your wines are drunk within 3-4 years of being bottled for best quality.
6. Screw Cap
The most common screw caps have an aluminum lining which makes them impermeable by air and other gases. This makes them popular with lower-end wines as it’s a quick way to fill the bottles without needing to wait for the wine to ‘breathe’ first.
However, a lot of people don’t like screw caps because they feel that there isn’t any tradition or romance involved in opening a bottle – you just twist off the top and drink it. They also decrease the shelf life of wines due to not allowing any gas transfer from inside the bottle, thus increasing oxidation rates – this problem is easily solved though by decanting your wines before drinking them if their age warrants it.
7. Hermetic Cork
Hermetic corks are becoming more common now winemakers realise its benefits. These corks are coated in a food-grade resin similar to the one used on screw caps that prevent oxidation and spoilage.
However, it doesn’t allow any gas transfer as such so wines under this cork will take longer than usual to age. To solve this problem, winemakers use a special capsule with tiny holes all over it which allows the wine to breath but prevents any outside air from entering the bottle and spoiling your wine after you pop the cork!
FAQs about store wine without a cork
How Long Does Wine Last Without A Cork?
Now, you already know how to store wine without a cork, but how long it lasts is another story. Wine can only last for a few hours without sealing, even if you have stored them in the fridge. There is no answer to how to store red wine after opening without a cork because it will be exposed to oxygen and turn stale.
The high acidity in white wines will keep the liquid fresh longer than the lower acidity while the higher tannin in red wines will last longer than low-tannin reds. You can try some of the methods we listed above, plus place them in a fridge or a wine cooler for extra days of preservation.
In general, the storage time of some standard wines in the fridge is as follows:
Sparkling: 1-2 days
White wine: 3-5 days.
Red wine: 3-6 days and cover with dark foil
Dessert wine: 3-7 days
Port: 1-3 weeks
How Long Does Red Wine Last Without Open Cork?
Most wines usually have a primary aroma when they reach the consumer. Over time, it will develop a secondary and even a tertiary aroma. Most ready-to-drink wines are best to serve after 3-5 years of production.
The longevity of a bottle of wine depends on the manufacturing process and how you store it. White wine can be drunk 1 to 2 years after the expiration date while red wine can be used 2 to 3 years after the expiration date. But, to be on the safe side, you need to check if it is still drinkable with a few tricks below.
How To Tell If Wine Has Gone Bad?
A wine that goes bad is usually due to not being stored at the right temperature and humidity as well as being exposed to too much external oxygen. In the short term, oxygen can improve the flavor of red wine, but too much will mess up your wine. There are a few ways to tell if your wine has gone bad or not.
Colour: Red wine will turn from red to darker brown while white wine will turn golden.
Smell: If your wine smells sour, like vinegar, or like burnt marshmallows, sadly, you have to throw it away.
For unopened wine bottles, if unfortunately there is a smell of garlic or burnt rubber, it means that the wine has been spoiled. Another sign is to look at the cork of a wine bottle. If you see the cork turn red, or slightly pushed up, it means that the heat has created pressure, or in other words, the wine has been cooked.
Here is a tip we have for you. If it is undrinkable, mix it with raw vinegar and let it ferment for a month before using it for stews and sauces dishes. Red wine goes well with beef, lamb, salmon, and tomato-based pasta sauce while white wine goes well with vegetables or French onion soups.
Is It OK To Store Wine At Room Temperature?
Although we usually serve wine when it is at room temperature, room temperature is not cool enough to help preserve wine for a long time, especially if you are concerned about the quality of the wine.
But, assuming you live in a cool climate, roughly 70°F (21°C), then you are good to go. Both red and white wines are recommended to be stored between 55°F to 60°F (12.8°C to 15.5°C) in darkness, around 70% humidity without any light and vibration. Storing wine at room temperature is common, but it will not reach its full richness and can make your experience less enjoyable than usual.
Is Wine OK If Left Out Overnight?
In fact, most wines won’t retain their fresh fruit flavors for more than a day or two after opening the bottle. So overnight wine can lose aromas, speed up chemical reactions, and therefore have an unpleasant taste. If you leave it overnight for a day or two, technically your wine won’t spoil but won’t taste as good as it did last time.
Leaving it outside like that makes it vulnerable to temperature fluctuations as temperatures tend to drop at night and become warmer when the sun rises and until noon.
So, these are the basic steps that anyone can follow no matter what their needs. In this article, we have learned together the basic ways of preserving wine and how to store wine without a cork. They are ways to preserve opened wine, but only help you delay the oxidation and spoilage time, not prevent it from spoiling.
Therefore, it is important to choose the right bottle size to enjoy, and to consider a wine cooler over a conventional refrigerator due to its specialized features. We hope that from now on you will no longer have to pour wine down the sink, and feel more confident when storing those elegant bottles.