story published in the Santa Barbara News-Press on 11/22/18
If you do Thanksgiving right, it’s not just edible leftovers you’ll be enjoying the days after. The cavalcade of flavors om your table means you’ll popping a lot of corks, too – a wide range of wines to match a wide range of foods. And while Tupperware and aluminum foil works well when it comes to saving turkey, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce for Friday’s overstuffed sandwiches, keeping your wines alive requires a bit more planning. Here are 10 easy ways to help preserve a few splashes for the foraging that’s just hours away...
1)Go Young: “Many older wines will lose their freshness, delicacy, and nuances overnight,” Riverbench GM Laura Booras once told me, “so it’s best to finish them the night you open them.” So if you’re choosing between which wine to finish tonight and which one to save for tomorrow, save the younger one for Friday’s lunch.
2)Go Big: Finish off lower-alcohol wines first; alcohol’s preservative qualities mean higher-alcohol wines have a better chance of surviving through tomorrow. Same goes for higher-tannins wines, like cabernets, malbecs and nebbiolos. Late harvest, fortified and port wines are good overnight bets, too.
3)Decant, Then Drink: Booras also told me that decanted wines have a shorter shelf life. “The surface area has been more exposed, so it’s going to oxidize and age much more quickly,” she said. So finish the wines you decant first and put the cork (or screw the cap) back on the ones you didn’t.
4)Don’t Go To Extremes: Temperature will have an even greater effect on wines that have been opened, so avoid sunlight through the window or the trunk of your car in the middle of the day. Avoiding temperature changes will do your wine good.
5)Take a Stand: Keep tomorrow’s wines standing up, rather than on their side. Remember that lesson from high school chemistry? A bottle on its side will result in maximum wine exposure to oxygen, wine’s great nemesis.
6)Screw it: If you’re not good at re-corking a bottle of wine, buy screwcapped wines. instead. A well-sealed screwcap is a very effective way of preserving wine for 24 hours.
7)No Off Sides: Saving your wine by sticking the cork back in? “Put in the same end that was touching the wine first,” says sommelier Jon McDaniel. And he knows what he’s talking about: McDaniel, who managed the Wine Merchant at the Los Olivos Café before he took the Chicago dining scene by storm, made Wine Enthusiast’s “40 Under 40 Tastemaker” list last year. “I have seen corks that didn't taint the wine with TCA (a bacteria that will 'cork' the wine) initially. But when you put in the other end of the cork first, you can come back the next day and have a corked or spoiled wine. So even though the cork will expand a bit, try and put the wet end of the cork back in first.”
8)Blend It: A bottle that’s full is least likely to spoil, since you’re minimizing the wine’s contact with oxygen. So don’t be coy about filling a bottle or two with your wine leftovers and create your own special Thanksgiving blend for the next day. You’re not a winemaker. You’re not trying to win an award. You’re just being prudent.
9)Chill Out: My friend Stephanie Varner, who manages the tasting room at Rusack Vineyards once gave me the most creative advice for giving your Thanksgiving leftover wine a new lease on life: “Make ice cubes!” The possibilities tomorrow and beyond are endless.
10)Be Done With It: This is the only advice we heed at our house. Don’t want to deal with preserving leftovers? Don’t have any to begin with! Drink up. Drink responsibly. But drink up!