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STORING UNFINISHED BOTTLES - Printable Version

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- Jerry D Mead - 01-08-1999 03:47 AM

The attached is picked up from another board where there was an ongoing discussion on how long wine in bag-in-box would keep, and then how long wine would keep in general. The author is Dr. Richard Peterson who writes a technical column for Wines & Vines, is a principle in Folie a Deux, was winemaster and The Monterey Vineyard, Beaulieu and worked in Gallo's lab after leaving UC Davis. I list his credentials, because the suggestion sounds a bit odd:<p><p><br>Jerry, re: the discussions on boxed wines and drinking a box over an extended time -- I've described in print over the past two years or so some rough experiments I've fooled around with on how long a good wine will last after opening if you keep it cool during storage, then quickly warm it back up to room temp just prior to drinking. It seems to fly in the face of what "everybody knows," but you and I know that what everybody knows sometimes ain't so.<p>I have done this many times and I invite any of the group to try it. First, my ground rules, which come from some simple science:<br> <br> 1. The wine can be stored in a part full bottle and it can have air in the bottle. But it makes sense not to shake it up or otherwise aerate the wine during storage.<br> 2. Never freeze a wine because this changes too many pieces of chemistry and physics irreversibly. The wine won't come back to "normal taste and mouthfeel" upon re-warming to room temp.<br> 3. Store any wine, red or white, in a part full bottle (the leftovers from a meal) at regular refrigerator temperature for as much as two weeks. Just replace the cork and put it on the milk shelf.<br> 4. When you want to drink the remainder, just remove the bottle, pour yourself a glass AND SET THE GLASS IN A MICROWAVE OVEN. Give it only 20 seconds for a 2/3 full glass. Trial and error will allow you to find out the proper settings to use for your microwave. Some will need only 15 seconds, some, maybe, 30.<br> 5. This is the critical part: DO NOT overheat the wine. That'll kill it for sure. Sneak up on room temperature from below. The first time, give it only 10 seconds, then (important) swirl the glass to mix the warmed wine (which will be at the surface of the liquid) with the cold wine (which will be at the bottom of the glass). Microwave warms stuff up from the surface, not the bottom. Please don't tell me about popcorn being heated from below by microwaves, that's another thing that I can explain another time. Belieeeeve me, wine in a glass is heated from the surface downwards. <br> 6. When you've achieved room temperature (and now know how many seconds to use next time for that amount of wine in that type of glass) swirl the glass immediately, then drink as if the wine came from a freshly opened bottle. You'll be amazed at how little damage was done to the wine by cool storage. Prove this to yourself by opening a bottle, pouring half into another bottle so that both are half full. Store one in the refrig and one on the kitchen shelf (both tightly corked) for a week. Then open both, pour a glass of each, re-warm the cool one in the microwave until both are the same temperature, then taste both. The cool stored one will taste like it came from a fresh bottle but the room temperature stored one will taste oxidized and already dead and lacking in fruitiness. <p>I know this must sound pretty dumb to many of you. But call my bluff and try it. I blundered into the discovery by being too cheap to throw away a really good bottle of wine that we just couldn't finish. I reasoned that there was nothing to lose, and tried it. Finding out that the surface warmed up (by microwaves) much quicker than the body of the liquid in a glass was trial and error although it is sound physics. I found that, if I swirled the glass immediately after the 20 seconds the wine was saved. Obviously, if you wait a minute or more to swirl the re-warmed glass, the surface of the wine (hot) will lose flavor, alcohol and other goodies before all the wine in the glass comes to an average temperature and the wine will have gone downhill. <p>Try it and let me know which wines you used and how they came out. Now, isn't this more fun than calling each other names? Dick Peterson


- tomstevenson - 01-09-1999 12:44 PM

Sure it works. For starters a microwave is by far the best and gentlest way to chambre a chilled or cellar-cold wine. I've recommended it in my Sotheby's Encyclopedia since 1988, and had been employing this methods for many years prior. But most importantly, chilling is the best way to keep any wine - red, white, rose or sparkling - because the most aromatic elements are the most volatile and temperature is one of the most important factors. The higher the temperature, the quicker the volatile elements are released. The same goes for CO2. Coincidentally this is also addressed in the two topics I posted under Paraphernalia minutes before reading this one. Funny old world, ain't it?


- Dick Peterson - 01-10-1999 12:08 PM

Hi Tom. Thanks for the support. Microwaves are such an obvious, gentle way to warm up a wine carefully that I'm always surprised that so few people are ready to accept it. I guess the wine industry has done such a good job of making wine an object of worship that most people just aren't willing to quickly accept something that sounds "too modern." At least 99% of the wine people I've suggested this to over the years poo-poo it. I'll bet you've had a similar experience. I used to judge wine each year at the International Wine & Spirits Competition at Ockley between about 1978 or 1979 and 1987. Did you judge there and did we meet? Sorry I can't remember in my old age. Dick Peterson


- Peter Hirdt - 01-10-1999 12:31 PM

&lt;&lt; Dick Peterson suggests: "When you want to drink the remainder, just remove the bottle, pour yourself a glass AND SET THE GLASS IN A MICROWAVE OVEN. Give it only 20 seconds for a 2/3 full glass. Trial and error will allow you to find out the proper settings to use for your microwave. Some will need only 15 seconds, some, maybe, 30." &gt;&gt;<p>While I can vouch for the refrigerator-to-microwave method, the timings here sounds way too long to me.<p>I usually nuke a single pour (about 3 oz.) of white wine for seven seconds, red for 10 to 12 seconds (give or take a bit, depending on the body of the wine, and the desired temperature).<p>Maybe we differ here on account of different pour sizes. Regardless, I can't imagine a wine would be good for anything but cooking after a half-minute on full power. (You are recommending full power, correct?)<p>Peter<p>[This message has been edited by Peter Hirdt (edited 01-10-99).]


- tomstevenson - 01-10-1999 01:22 PM

Hi Dick! The most adverse remarks I get to the suggestion of a microwave is - and this really wont come as much of a surprise - from the older member of the British wine trade. These are the people who (kindly) invite you to lunch at their offices on a chilly, snow-swept winter's day and proudly point to the bottles of claret and Port they have warming in the fire place. The heat is fierce, with one side of the bottle boiling hot, the other freezing cold. When you mention a microwave they tut-tut and say "Wouldn't even try it old boy. A microwave's much too aggressive!".<br>No Dick, I don't think we've met, but I'm due on the West Coast twice this year and the way these things go, we'll probably meet up accidentally. It's a bit like discovering a new word then finding it in everything you read.


- Bucko - 01-10-1999 02:49 PM

Peter, you have to realize that the microwave that Dick is using is squirrel powered - takes a little longer for the thing to get running. }:&gt;<p>Bucko