How To Save Leftover Wine Without Any Fancy Tools

A wine pairing with dinner in the evening is a treat. But if you're not planning to finish the bottle, you might hesitate when popping that cork. Wine aficionados know that wine quality rapidly depreciates once a sealed bottle is opened. The red, white, or rosé you're sipping can quickly turn sour even when stored in the fridge. Some hobbyists invest in wine stoppers specifically engineered to help wine last as long as possible, but those can cost a pretty penny depending on how airtight you want your wine to be.

Luckily, there's a way to DIY your wine-saving efforts and ensure that bottle lasts more than just a single meal. If you've got a Mason jar in your cabinet, you're already on your way. Simply pour your wine into the Mason jar as high as it will go — overfill it to the very top to ensure no air can get in. Then pop the lid on and screw tightly to cover (if a little wine spills out, you did it right). As long as you don't re-open the lid, this wine will last in the fridge for up to seven more days.

The science of wine-saving

What makes wine lose flavor so quickly in the first place? A process called oxidation is what starts leaching flavor from wine as soon as it's opened. When wine is exposed to too much oxygen, a reaction occurs that transforms the ethanol (or alcohol) in the drink to acetaldehyde. This process is good in small doses and can even increase the flavor complexity of the wine. But over-oxidize, and you'll start to lose color and flavor quickly. Eventually the acetaldehyde will further transform into acetic acid, and you'll be left with a bottle of vinegar instead of your favorite vintage.

The answer? Keep as much air out of your wine as possible. This is why many wine aficionados use vacuum pumps to seal their wine, and why an airtight seal is so important for the Mason jar hack. Even just a small amount of air in the storage container can trigger this chemical process and leave you with an undrinkable product in just a few days.

Other tips to make wine last

Don't have a Mason jar on hand? There are a few extra steps you can take with your wine bottle to give it a touch more longevity than usual. One trick is to store that bottle sideways; make sure the cork is sealed and then lay the bottle horizontally in the fridge so that the wine is touching the cork. This helps to keep the seal tight between the cork and the wine, and prevents excess air from entering the bottle.

One more tip: be sure to store the wine in a dark place. Light, much like oxygen, can also impact wine flavor and numb its intensity. Though wine is typically stored in tinted bottles, it never hurts to protect the goods with an extra layer of darkness for good measure.

The best way to ensure wine quality, though? Savor it as close to the time you opened it as possible. Just remember to drink responsibly.