What to Do With Thanksgiving Leftovers — The Wine, That Is

Thanksgiving DinnerWe have an “early” Thanksgiving this year, as the fourth Thursday of the month falls on the 24th.

If you follow the advice we give each year — to set up a table with a bunch of glasses, open up several different types of wine, and let guests select the ones they like — you’re probably going to have several partially filled bottles remaining on the 25th.

Which brings up a few questions: Does wine keep well overnight? And if so, what’s the best way to store partially consumed bottles of wine?

Addressing question No. 1, the answer is yes! Rare is the wine that doesn’t taste almost as good on “day two” as it did on “day one.” In some cases, it may taste even better. An exception to this “rule” would be a very old wine that begins to fade quickly as soon as it’s uncorked.

As for more recent vintages, it depends on the type of wine and how long you plan to store it.

If it’s a white wine and you plan to drink it gradually over the course of a week, we recommend storing it upright, cork in or screwcap tightened, in your refrigerator. Some pundits disagree with this approach, but the fridge gives you the best shot at keeping the wine “fresh” over several days.

We also recommend this for lighter-style red wines (Beaujolais Nouveau, some bottlings of Pinot Noir, etc.), as well as Rose-style wines.

Now, if you’re planning to consume the wine in no more than two additional days, we again recommend sealing it, but leaving it out — in as cool an area of the house as you can find. Keep it away from electronics and lights, which may throw off heat, and opt for a dark closet or a corner of the basement.

Heat and light are the two main enemies of wine. That’s true when the wine is aging in the bottle, as well as after the bottle has been opened. So find a cool place, lay the wine back on its side…  and then don’t forget about it!

As a general rule, red wines will be fine in such a setting for two to four days after opening. White wines, on the other hand, should be consumed more quickly, in one to two days.

Regardless of their hue, know that wine has a finite lifespan after it has been opened, and it will lose a little bit of its aroma, a little bit of its flavor, and a little bit of its appeal with each passing day.

After a bottle has been opened, the third prime enemy of wine — oxygen — begins to wreak its havoc. So even if you keep the bottle in a cool, dark place, the exposure to air will continue to slowly do its age-quickening damage.

Let’s not forget one other option that celebrates the spirit of the season: You could simply re-seal the bottles and send them home with your guests.

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Posted in Wine in the Glass
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