How To Recork Wine

Ever wondered why a perfectly good bottle of wine tastes completely different the next morning? Leaving an open bottle of wine in your kitchen overnight seems like a totally harmless act, right? 

Well, actually, from the second we pop the cork of our favorite wine, we expose it to the worst possible force: oxygen.

Corks protect wine from oxygen in the air, so you should always recork your wine, even if you plan on drinking the whole bottle in one sitting.

That may sound ridiculous considering we rely on it to live, but when wine interacts with the oxygen in the air, its taste and appearance begins to change and the longer it is exposed, the worse your wine will look and taste.

You may be thinking, “but the cork doesn’t fit back in the bottle” and unfortunately this is true but, there are other ways to recork your wine and keep it as fresh as possible for a few extra days.

This article will give you a few tips and tricks on all things recorking wine! Keep reading to find out more.

What happens if you don’t recork wine after opening?

If you don’t seal your wine after opening, even between glasses, you’re leaving the delicious wine vulnerable to the oxygen in the air. When wine interacts with oxygen, it will become oxidized.

The oxidation process will decrease the wine’s pigmentation as well as some of the aromas. This won’t make the wine unsafe to drink, but it will make it less tasty.

Oxidation tends to dull the flavor of wine and give it a more vinegary taste – not good, especially if you paid a lot of money for it.

So, even if you plan to pour yourself another glass in 10 minutes time, you still need to recork the bottle to minimize this process. That way, your wine will look and taste better for much longer.

How to recork wine

There are a few ways you can salvage a bottle of wine once the cork has been popped. The easiest way to do this is by simply using the other end of the cork. Of course, this method requires you to still have the original cork and it being in a good enough condition that it doesn’t let any air in.

So, make sure when you initially remove the cork, that you don’t twist the corkscrew all the way through the cork and put it somewhere safe to be used again.

You might think reinserting the cork is not possible because it looks too big, but, actually, the side that was inside the bottle when you bought it will have expanded when you popped it, but, the other end will still be the same size.

Alternatively, if the other end of the cork is still too big to push in, try cutting away some of the edge of the cork to make it fit.

If you don’t have the original cork, here are some ingenious hacks to keep your wine bottles sealed after opening:

  • Use a different cork – if you have any old corks from other empty bottles, you can use them instead. After some time, corks will lose any moisture in them that caused them to expand and will return to their original size, making them perfect for recorking unfinished bottles of wine
  • Use a stopper – this is probably the most widely-used way to recork wine. Investing in a wine stopper will come in super handy for all future unfinished bottles of wine. There are tons of options out there, and they can range from very affordable to pretty expensive. In fact, it is common for a nice wine stopper to be given as a gift. You might already have one in your kitchen! They work basically in the same way as corks, in that they seal the rim of the wine bottle to prevent the wine from mixing with the oxygen in the air. Plus, compared to corks, they’re reusable and durable
  • Use wax paper – this isn’t the easiest method as you will have to go to the store to buy wax paper but, if you’re finding it difficult to get the cork back in the bottle, wrapping the cork in wax paper is a great way to encourage it to slide back in. here’s how you can do it:
    • Use a cutting of wax paper, about the same size as the cork, and wrap it around the cork so that the outside is completely covered
    • Holding the bottle firmly with one hand, use the other hand to wiggle the cork back into the bottle. Don’t be too vigorous with the wiggling because you want the wax paper to remain intact and not crinkly because this will make the surface area of the cork bigger, making it even harder to get back into the bottle
    • Keep wiggling until the cork is about ¾ of the way into the bottle. Don’t push it too far as it might fall in and ruin the wine
  • Use a different resealable container – once you’ve opened the bottle and poured a glass, you could pour the remaining wine into a smaller sealable container to minimize the amount of space for oxygen. There are certain materials that will work best for this. Your best option would be a stainless steel container

How long does an open bottle of wine last?

No matter how well your recork your wine, it won’t last forever and the sooner you drink a bottle once it has been opened, the better the flavors will be.

Most wines will taste okay for between three and five days after opening. It varies depending on the type of wine and how it is sealed and stored, though. 

For example, sparkling wine will only last up to three days after opening before it starts to go bad, whereas rose wine can be drinkable for up to one week after opening if kept in the fridge and sealed.

Christina Day
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