Tag Archives: Wine Storage

Leftovers: Keep Wine Tasting Its Best

Waste not, want not. It’s a good motto, even when it comes to wine. Many of my customers like to partake in just one glass of wine a night, and I often get asked about the best ways to keep wine tasting its best for the longest amount of time. Moreover, once the wine has lost some of its flavor, what are the best ways to repurpose it? Here are some tips and tricks I have learned over the years:

Some handy tools include a Vacu Vin, flip-top stopper, and an argon gas wine preserver. If you don’t have any of these, start by recorking the wine and sticking it in the fridge. This works for both red and white, but you want to let the red come back to room temperature before drinking it. Just like with food, the cold slows the oxidation of the wine. Oxidation from air is what makes wine lose its flavor, so vacuuming it out with the Vacu Vin or replacing it with an inert gas, like argon, is key. Argon is tasteless, odorless and harmless to wine, and since it is chemically heavier than air, once sprayed in, it creates a barrier between the wine and the air.

Leftovers: Keep Wine Tasting Its Best

Fancy decorative stoppers are nice gifts, but a sturdy flip-top stopper is much more practical. With one of these, you can often lay down your bottle for easier storage since it creates a tight seal in the bottle. This, in combination with the argon gas, is the most effective way to keep wine tasting its freshest.

However, what if it’s been a while, and despite your best efforts, the wine has lost much of its flavor? Then what? Before you toss it down the drain, consider cooking with it! Now, I leave the recipes to Chef Pete, but buttered onions simmered in red wine are an excellent accompaniment to a steak. Chicken, wrapped in tinfoil with lemon, white wine, onions and garlic, is also easy and delicious! My best tip is to make wine ice cubes. Simply fill a clean ice cube tray with leftover wine and freeze. You can use the wine cubes in sauces, stews, and soups, but my favorite is to use them in wine-based cocktails, so your drinks don’t get watered down. Sauvignon Blanc ice cubes in your next Greyhound, perhaps?

I hope you use my tips in the New Year! What are some of your favorite ways to use wine? Tweet me at @NinosWineExpert and let me know!


– Jennifer Laurie

Wine Storage 101

If I had a nickel for every time I heard, “I have a bottle of Champagne we got for our wedding 20 years ago; is it still good?,” I’d have a very fat piggy bank! In general, my answer to this is “Maybe, but you will never know until you try it!” Although most wines are made to be consumed within three to five years of their release date, many will age gracefully if stored properly. In general, wines that are light and fruity, such as Beaujolais and Zinfandel, should be consumed young while wines that have heavy tannins (Cabernet Sauvignon) and high acidity (French Chardonnay) can be aged. But I digress. Which wines to store will be a later blog; this is about how to store them.

When it comes to wine, storage is very important. Heat and light are the primary enemies of wine. In a recent post, I talked about laying bottles down, stating that if a wine has a screw cap closure, the chances of it going bad decrease. Though this is true, there are other things that can ruin a bottle of wine. In fact, just the other day a friend of mine texted me with a picture of a South African white blend and asked if it was supposed to taste like Salami. Having tried it before, I replied, “No, it should taste like peaches!” I told her it must be bad, and she responded “How? It has a screw cap!” When a wine has been exposed to too much heat or light, it can turn, producing a vinegary or overly raisiny flavor.


Key steps to protect your wine

If you are looking to store your wine long term, there are a few key steps to take to protect your wine:

  1. Keep your wine cool; 55 degrees is ideal. However, anywhere from 45 to 65 is okay. Anything above 75 degrees for an extended period of time will hinder the quality of the wine. This is why the basement is a good storage area. Make sure the wine is in a dark corner and far away from appliances, such as the washing machine and dryer. These appliances give off heat and vibrations that will not let the wine rest properly. When wine becomes too warm, it expands and tries to push out the cork. When the temperature goes back down, it contracts and compromises the cork, so keeping a consistent temperature is ideal. Sometimes you will see that some wine has seeped out of the bottle. This is not a sure sign that the wine has gone bad. However, you may want to reevaluate where you are storing it.
  2. The darker, the better. Though many consumers like being able to see the color of the wine in the bottle, a darker bottle is best. When UV rays come into contact with the wine over an extended period of time, the wine will mature at a faster rate. Winemakers use darker bottles, and sometimes even wrap the bottles in paper, to ensure the least amount of light is getting in. Fluorescent and sunlight are the worst while light from a halogen bulb is kindest.
  3. Protect the cork. Like I stated in my Ask the Sommelier article, laying bottles down ensures that no air will get into the wine. When you lay the bottle down, the wine is pressed up against the cork, securing it. However, I must note that storing your wine in a relatively humid area helps keep the cork plump, preventing it from drying out and crumbling.

If you follow these basic wine storage rules, your wines will taste better longer. But always remember that wine is no good unless it is enjoyed! So next Tuesday night when you and your hubby are home watching TV, open up that old bottle and drink to each other.

Ask a Sommelier

Lay Lady Lay

I was recently at a wedding shower where the theme was wine. Beautiful wine bottle center pieces, wine glass candles for gifts, and lighted grapes all around the room. Wine was certainly the topic of conversation and with my proud mother beside me; my secret identity was soon revealed! Well, maybe not so secret, but as soon as the ladies at our table found out I was a Sommelier, the questions began. The one that I always seem to get is “Do you really need to lay the bottles down?” I feel its time to tackle this question head on with a hearty and stead fast “Well, it depends.”

Sorry, but it does. There are other questions to attend to first. For instance, does the bottle have a cork? This is the primary reason for laying bottles on their sides. One of the main reasons winemakers use cork in the first place is its breathe-ability. It’s a natural thing that’s spongy quality seals a bottle cheaply and effectively. The sideways storage comes into play when you are looking to keep a bottle for some time, say up to a year; laying a bottle down keeps the wine up against the cork, thus keeping it moist and plump. If a wine, with a cork, is left standing upright the cork can dry out and allow air to get in, maturing the wine at a quicker rate.

If a wine has a synthetic cork, I would still recommend laying the wine down, mainly because I don’t wholly trust synthetic/plastic corks.

If the wine is topped with a screwcap or the elusive glass stopper, standing the bottle up right is just fine.

Does wine price matter?

Another question they asked was “Does price really matter?” And again, I say, “It depends.” There are a lot of boring expensive wines and a ton of delightful inexpensive wines! The best rule of thumb when buying wines is to trust in your local wine retailer. Tell them what you normally drink and as you build a relationship, they should be able to guide you to new exciting wines that you might never have picked up.

I taste at on average about 20 different wines a week, and when tasting I think of the individual customers that might like it. I have found that you can get some terrific values from Chile and Argentina today, and when I say value, I mean under $10. Generally, for everyday consumption, there are plenty of solid, good wines out there that won’t leave you reaching for the Alkaselter the next morning. Here are my picks for good values under $10, with screwcaps!

Double Decker Pinot Grigio, California, 2010 $9.99 –
Fresh and floral on the nose with pear and green apple, the Double Decker is crisp and refreshing.

Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay, South Eastern Australia, 2011 $6.99 –
Round and creamy with notes of apple and citrus.

Cono Sur Carmenere, Colchagua Valley, Chile, 2009 $8.99 –
Rustic and spicy with blackberry and plum.

Tilia Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza Argentina, 2010 $8.99 –
Rich red and black fruits with backing spice on the finish.

So next time you are at our stores, don’t be afraid to ask questions! Our Nino’s Wine team is educated and here to help!


– Jennifer Laurie

New Arrivals

Ridge Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains 2005
Nino’s Price: $51.99
From Wine Spectator:
Score: 95
Country: California
Region: Bay Area/Central Coast
Issue: Jul 31, 2007
Top 100: 2007, Rank: 2
Designation: Highly Recommended

Great balance, depth, elegance and finesse. Shows lots of spicy, toasty, smoky oak, but also plenty of rich, vibrant, smooth and concentrated pear, fig and melon flavors before returning to the toasty oak. Drink now through 2011. 2,000 cases made. –JL

5  Bottles left!!!

Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe
Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Crau 2007

Nino’s Price: $79.99
From Wine Spectator:
Score: 95
Country: France
Region: Southern Rhône
Issue: Dec 15, 2009
Top 100: 2009, Rank: 3
Designation: Highly Recommended

Packed, in a brawny, muscular style atypical for this lush vintage, with a gravelly undertow to the currant paste, braised fig and dark licorice notes. Picks up even more steam on the finish, with grilled mesquite, mineral and garrigue notes and a long, hot stone¿filled finish. Best from 2010 through 2030. 17,000 cases made. –JM

Only 9 bottles left!

Ladera  Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain 2006
Nino’s Price: $72.99
From Wine Spectator:
Country: California
Region: Napa
Issue: Mar 31, 2010
Designation: Highly Recommended

A tour de force Cabernet. Dense, plush, rich and concentrated, wall-to-wall flavors, with layers of black cherry, black currant, black licorice, mineral and graphite. Full-bodied and tightly wound with firm tannins, yet finishes with a mix of juicy berry and mineral flavors. Drink now through 2020. 3,000 cases made. –JL

Only 6 bottles left! Jump on this cellar worthy gem while you still can!

– Jennifer Laurie

Old Wine, New Experiences

It’s always been my good fortune to have friends, family, and colleagues who are wine enthusiasts.  On certain occasions, we’re lucky enough to combine rare, vintage, wines with funky cheeses and bubbly conversation. One of these instances occurred last week with the help of a lucky customer, who was given cases of old – thought to be bad – wines. This customer was generous enough to let my friends and I try some of the bottles he’d chosen. After almost a year of hibernation in the back of my fridge, we finally opened the last two of these wines.

Chateau Coutet a Barsac and Carl Jos. Hoch Beerenauslese

The wines in question

The wines were a Barsac and a Beerenauslese. Barsac is a sub-region of Bordeaux, France, much like Sauternes, known for sweet white wines with long lived acidity. Beerenauslese from Germany is another sweet white dessert wine. Both Barsac and Beerenauslese are Botrytis affected.  Botrytis Cinera – or Noble Rot – is a fungus that dehydrates the grape, leaving a higher concentration of sugar and acidity.  Both of these styles of wines are good candidates for aging because of this.

The Barsac was a 1975 Chateau Coutet a Barsac, which I worried, would be oxidized due to the dry climate of my refrigerator and the bubbles that floated to the shoulder when I moved the bottle.  I punctured the cork and started to carefully pull straight up, trying my hardest to not break the delicate cork.  Since this was an older vintage and there were no cork particles floating in the wine, we agreed not to decant.  I poured three small glasses.  One went to my husband, one to our guest (Adam Carlson – the Nino’s Clinton Township Wine Manager,) and one for me.  The wine was glistening, and deeply golden.  As sweet white wines age they become more honeyed in color and concentrated in flavor. Aromas of dried apricot, white flowers and honey abound. On the palate, cooked peaches, apricot and papaya candy were followed by a long sweet finish. Most intriguing was the great amount of acidity left in this little bottle. A true knock out. We paired the wine with a delicious blue Brie, Gorgonzola, Jules Destrooper Almond Thins and Anna’s Almond Cinnamon Cookies.  I highly recommend these cookies for white dessert wines.

Opening the second bottle, a 1978 Carl Jos. Hoch Beerenauslese was a different story.  This cork crumbled as soon as I twisted the auger into it.  A Twist Up wine opener is generally better for older corks since it slides two metal prongs down the sides of the wood, hugging it as you “twist up.”  Cork pieces did fall in to this wine, so we strained it into a glass (see picture.)  The rich mahogany color in the glass resulted in my husband passing on this wine.  Adam and I, on the other hand, ventured forth with curiosity and a sense of duty.   Sherry was the first thing that came to mind when I raised the glass to my nose.  Dried fig, and dates were present, but this wines life had definitely come to an end.

The Beerenauslese

The Beerenauslese

What went wrong? Two wines of similar ages, same sized bottles, and similarly produced but with such different endings.  I know how these wines were stored when they came into my possession, but have very little knowledge of their previous storage.  This is the adventure of wine collecting.  Sometimes investing time and care into a wines development will pay off as with the Barsac, and other times the wine will turn brown and be offensive to husbands.

Please comment on any similar wine adventures you’ve had!