First thing’s first; wine goes bad after a certain amount of time, because oxygen gets all up in wine’s grill and turns it to vinegar. It’s pretty easy to tell when this happens, so feel free to cook with it, and if you’re super desperate, like that scene in Sex in the City where Miranda fishes cake out of the garbage, go ahead and slug it back — I won’t judge out loud, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
To keep yourself from hitting this vinous low-point, strive to keep your wine as fresh as possible by doing these few things.
The fridge is your friend
Once you are done with your bottle for the night, or the morning, put the cork back in it and place it upright in the fridge. Even for reds. Not only will this prevent any unfortunate leakage, keeping a bottle standing reduces the surface exposure to oxygen — because as discussed, oxygen can turn a wine fairly quickly. By keeping wine in the fridge, and not re-corked on the counter, you’ve probably bought yourself another three to five days, and maybe, maybe, even a week.
Wine gadget wizardry
If you are someone who enjoys having a lot of tools at your disposal, you can invest in a vacuum pump for your bottle. Commonly used in restaurants, and not badly priced (they generally start around $20), you can purchase a pump, like a Vacu Vin, which comes with some rubber stoppers that you use to cork the bottle and the pump to suck the air out, sort of like a reverse tire pump.
You can also find canned nitrogen, which comes in a spray can-like device, that you spritz into the bottle. The science behind it suggests the inert gas will float over the wine, but under the oxygen, and block close interaction between the two — like a watchful chaperone at a high school dance. This gas doesn’t affect the wine, and is available for about $10 at most wine shops.
If you haven’t finished a bottle of sparkling wine, first, what’s wrong with you, and second, you may be able to keep the fizz flowing for another day. Maybe. Of course, the beauty of bubbly is the bubbles, so pumping the bottle like you would a still wine, it is a sure fire way to increase popping them.
Try a champagne stopper; it’s a metal gadget that plugs the bottle opening with a supposedly airtight seal, and clamps down on either side. Almost like a chastity belt for champers. My experience with them (champagne stoppers, not chastity belts), is more miss than hit, but every once in a while you can score a home run and stretch your sparkles into the next day. Just be careful taking the stopper off, as it can blow with almost as much force as the cork on a fresh bottle.
Know your wine’s limits
Some wines are more susceptible to turning than others. Lighter coloured reds like pinot noir and gamay seem to oxidize quicker than darker reds, likely due to their lower tannins. Older wines will generally fade faster than younger wines, and of course wines more delicate in structure will suffer an ill fate before a robust wine will.