Not whining.
April 8, 2008 5:02 PM   Subscribe

What's the best format for an extremely lightweight drinker to buy & store wine, to enable very gradual consumption without the wine going sour?

I want to keep red wine in the house, but I never drink it fast enough to finish the bottle before it starts tasting weird. I might drink 1/2 a glass every other night or so, at which rate it takes over 2 weeks to finish a regular-sized bottle, and by then it's all vinagery. Bottles stored in the fridge last a little longer but then the wine's cold, which I don't like. Single serving bottles seem like a good solution (even so, those are 2-3 sevings for me, it's ridiculous) but there's only one brand available in my area, and it's kind of vile. Do those spray cans of gas work? Or freezing it? Or buying it in a box so it's airtight? Suggestions, especially cheap, easy solutions, greatly appreciated. Thanks!
posted by pseudostrabismus to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
The vacuum pump things work pretty well, but not 2 weeks worth of well. If you do try them, I'd avoid the standard VacuVin round ones because sometimes you don't actually have a tight seal and you end up with spoiled wine. There are other corks that make it more obvious that you've got a good vacuum going, I think Metrokane is one such brand?
posted by aspo at 5:13 PM on April 8, 2008

Best answer: Box. Here's a review of some higher-quality wines available in a box. I can vouch personally for the fact that the Target varieties aren't very good, but the Banrock Station Shiraz is perfectly drinkable.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:14 PM on April 8, 2008

I have one of these simple vacuum pumps and i think it works pretty well - even over a couple weeks. Flavor degrades a bit, but it still tastes good.
posted by gnutron at 5:17 PM on April 8, 2008

Vacuum pumps are pretty good. A box will last a long time (couple of months) but they tend to be 3 liters. At the rate you drink, they still might go bad before you finish one.
posted by chairface at 5:20 PM on April 8, 2008

Best answer: You could use a vacuum pump with a demi (375 mL bottle), which would keep it more fresh than larger bottle. has lots in this size, and they ship to your state (since you said your local selection sucks).

Boxed wine would be perfect for this situation. You don't have to get the huge five-liter box; I've seen one-liter boxes on the shelves. At your rate of consumption I don't know if you'd be able to get through the whole box, but I think you could get pretty far. There have been a few good wines to be packaged in boxes lately.

I've seen a system that injects nitrogen (an inert gas) into the bottle, which 1) forces the air out and lays down a protective blanket of gas and 2)pushes the wine out of the bottle through a system similar to a beer keg. The only time air gets to the wine is when you initially open it. These systems work pretty well (it's a high-tech version of those spray cans of gas), but I think it's prohibitively expensive in your situation.

We drink 2-3 bottles (750 mL) of wine a week, and we now use a vacuum. We used to use the spray, and I think they both work pretty well (almost always for red wine, and never more than 24 hours). If we preserve the wine on Monday night but don't get around to drinking it again until Wednesday, it's noticeably....."vinegar-y".
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 5:25 PM on April 8, 2008

Buy good box wine. Black Box, Hardy's, and Le Faux Frog have worked for me.

Additionally, do you live in a place where you can order wine online? Three Thieves has four packs available at their online store. Their stuff is pretty good.
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel at 5:26 PM on April 8, 2008

Best answer: mr_roboto is on to something. Boxed wine. Here is another article that does some explaining:
posted by snowjoe at 5:26 PM on April 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you buy wine in a tetra pack you can squeeze the air out. It's basically a 750 ml or 1 liter serving of wine in a big juice box. Similar to boxed wine in the sense you can get the air out easily. There are some nice tetra packed wines these days, at least in Ontario.
posted by GuyZero at 5:27 PM on April 8, 2008

Nthing the boxed wine. You can find some really decent stuff now.
posted by meerkatty at 5:32 PM on April 8, 2008

I read somewhere on the internet but have not tried it yet that you could get yourself some of those single serving wine bottles and reuse them to store your opened bottles of wine. The key is to pour the wine in all the way up to the top so when you insert the cork there is no air for the vinegar making bacteria to play.

I've used the vacuum pump corks for up to two weeks with some degradation but not enough yet to make it undrinkable. If you want to be anal about it you can repump it every morning.
posted by any major dude at 5:35 PM on April 8, 2008

Best answer: We drink wine in a box, and it works really well. Like another poster, we've had very good luck with Black Box Wines (as I recall, we like the Cabernet, Shiraz and Merlot), and Hardy's was pretty good the last time we bought some (and considerably cheaper than the Black Box); I think we got Hardy's cabernet.

We can definitely get about a month from the box, but eventually, it goes yucky. On the other hand, it's way better than drinking half a bottle and having to toss the rest.
posted by leahwrenn at 5:39 PM on April 8, 2008

Can you freeze wine? (after putting it in a plastic bottle, obviously)
posted by amtho at 5:45 PM on April 8, 2008

No, do not freeze the wine. That's bad.
posted by jeffamaphone at 6:19 PM on April 8, 2008

Well, you can freeze wine but usually it's done to save the last bits for future cooking uses, not drinking.
posted by cabingirl at 6:22 PM on April 8, 2008

Still looking for sources as to why freezing wine is bad, but here's a start.
posted by jeffamaphone at 6:23 PM on April 8, 2008

I use a combination of Private Preserve and Vacu Vin.

There are several similar products in both categories. The nitrogen air is supposed to displace the oxygen in the opened bottle and provide an inert atmosphere. I found that I was never quite able to get satisfactory results beyond 2 days when I used the nitrogen alone.

However, the nitrogen PLUS the Vacu Vin has been great. Keeps well for at least a week.
posted by hellhammer at 6:27 PM on April 8, 2008

3rding Black Box. Not very complex but very drinkable. I've only seen it in 3 liter sizes though.

As Mr Roboto says, the Target box wine is very drinkable too - and comes in smaller sizes.
posted by delladlux at 6:55 PM on April 8, 2008

I freeze wine for cooking all the time (when I know I won't finish a bottle before it goes off), and it works fine for that. But it separates into ice crystals and a thicker liquid that I assume is mostly alcohol. I certainly wouldn't recommend drinking it after freezing.
posted by yarrow at 7:28 PM on April 8, 2008

I have used wine in the bag and box with very serviceable results. Instead of dumping the wine when it becomes "off" you can make your own wine vinegar. I am bad, by mixing red and white wines into the same vinegar making container.

If you are only planning to cook with wine and want something to last a great while I would suggest a refrigerated bottle of vermouth is very handy.
posted by jadepearl at 8:11 PM on April 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

I was coming in here to suggest Black Box or some other quality boxed (really bagged) wine.

The other thing I've seen -- but haven't used personally -- are argon purging systems. Basically they're a little can of argon (which is both heavier than air and inert) that you squirt into the wine bottle before resealing it. The argon displaces the air and keeps the wine from oxidizing. That seems like it ought to work really well, although you'd have to judge how much argon to put in each time based on how much empty space was left in the bottle.

Here's one argon thingy, and here's someone asking the question I immediately wondered, which was can you just go to a welding-supply store and buy a tank of argon, instead of paying for the overpriced stuff? The answer is yes.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:47 PM on April 8, 2008

Response by poster: OP here- I found a brand of boxed wine I could stomach- it's not my favourite wine ever, but it came in an airtight box, it's cheap, and it tastes okay. It's been almost a week since I tapped my little cardboard keg, and so far, so good on the sour front. Thanks for the suggestions, all!
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:19 PM on April 26, 2008

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