We’ve all had that after-party experience of realizing we have a few open bottles of wine lying around, and the corks are nowhere to be found. If you wind up losing the cork on your wine, don’t worry. There are plenty of different methods you can use to store wine efficiently.
Are there ways to keep wine without a cork? Yes, there are several different ways to keep wine without a cork, including:
- Re-corking it
- Using a wine stopper
- Buying screw caps only
- Making your cover
- Using a vacuum seal
- Investing in an inert gas wine preserver
- Reduce Surface Area Preserver
- Using a paper towel
Since there isn’t a lot of information available on the Internet today covering how to keep wine without a cork, we created this guide to help you out. Below we’ll discuss how wine ages, ways to keep wine without a cork, and steps you can use to help you preserve your wine with or without a cork.
Once you pop the cork, most wines go bad within a day or so. But a Coravin Wine Preservation system (available for a great price on Amazon) can extend the life of your opened wine for weeks or even months. It is awesome. You should check it out and see if it will fit into your lifestyle. For those on a budget, the Vacu Vin wine saver is great too.
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Keeping Your Wine Fresh
When you still have your wine’s cork, then it’s usually a pretty straightforward process to keep your wine. Luckily, many of the fundamentals we use when we have a wine’s cork still apply when we’re missing the cork.
However, keep in mind that after you break the seal on your wine, your wine will need some attention if you want to keep the leftovers in the bottle tasting fresh before the wine starts tasting like vinegar. Below we’ll cover all you’ll ever need to know about storing wine when you lose your cork.
You might be the type of person that needs a regular storage answer to your problem of storing wine so you can have just a glass now and then. Or, you may need a fast solution because you’ve lost your cork.
Regardless, there are several different methods you can use to keep your wine fresh for a few days. Before we discuss the tips you can use to keep the wine fresh without a cork, we’ll go over some basic wine storage practices.
Basic Wine Storage Practices
Before discussing the different methods you can use to help preserve your wine bottle, we’ll cover some basics about storing wine. Wine can be stored effectively in mason jars. You’re going to want to have a pleasant wine cellar environment to help save your wine. The better the environment is to the wine, the longer you can preserve it successfully.
#1 Consider Temperature
Before you serve your wine, you’ll need to think about the way the wine’s temperature works. While you can use your fridge to keep your wine for a couple of days, you’ll have to make sure it’s warmed up again and at the right serving temperature before you drink it still.
If you have a wine fridge, you use for wine, then keeping that fridge around 50 to 55 degrees will still help preserve the wine but keep it closer to its serving temperature.
While we typically serve wine when it’s at room temperature, room temperature isn’t cool enough to help preserve wine for an extended period, especially when the wine is opened. If the wine is unopened, it still isn’t a good idea to store it in a room-temperature environment.
The best temperature setting to use to store your wine is about 55 degrees F, which is what most wine lovers mean when they tell you to save your wine in a “cool place.”
Since most people keep their homes at temperatures closer to 70 to 75 degrees F, you should instead keep your wine in the fridge. That’s because the colder the temperature of the wine is, the slower the wine’s process of aging is. Using colder temperatures prevents bacteria from growing inside the wine bottle.
#2 Consider the Sun and UV Rays
You’ll also need to make sure your wine is safe from the sun’s UV rays when you store it.
Interestingly, that also includes keeping your wine away from light from fluorescent bulbs. Both UV rays and the light from these bulbs can make your wine age more quickly, ruining the flavor of your wine. When UV rays start hitting your bottle of wine, the flavor breakdown doesn’t occur evenly.
That means your wine bottle will wind up tasting imbalanced and off-putting. So, you’ll also want to make sure your wine is in a dark glass bottle and placed in a shaded storage area.
You especially want to store your wine carefully after you’ve opened it to preserve it better. However, since most refrigerators are relatively dark, this shouldn’t be a difficult step with which to abide.
#3 Avoid Humidity
Humidity isn’t an essential factor to consider when it comes to storing your already opened bottles of wine. Most likely, you’ll be saving your wine in the fridge at a cooler temperature after you’ve opened it.
As long as you use one of our solutions on our list below, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about humidity. On the other hand, you will need to worry about the humidity if your wine is unopened and corked. If you weren’t aware, unopened wine needs to get 50-70% relative humidity to keep it tasting well.
Why? The cork on the wine has to stay significant to maintain its seal on the bottle. If you store your wine in a fridge at 55 degrees, then your fridge will already be creating that 70% humidity, which is good to know.
However, if you are storing your wine at colder temperatures below 55 degrees F, then you are lowering the humidity. That’s because the colder the temperature is in your fridge, the less moisture that’s being created.
So, for instance, if you set your refrigerator at 40 degrees, that’s far too cold for your wine. Your cork will most likely shrink, and the seal of the wine will then break.
#4 Avoid Oxygen
Another thing you’ll need to be careful to avoid when trying to preserve wine properly is oxygen. Oxygen is everywhere in the air around you, and it’s very damaging to the wine you are trying to store.
Of course, some people like a little aging when they own a wine cellar of red wine, but that’s for unopened bottles. When your wine is already opened, you want to prevent that aging process from ever happening.
Many people keep unopened bottles on a wine rack so that the cork stays wet. However, this isn’t really how you should store your already opened wine.
Wine racks keep bottles on their sides, and the best way to store already opened wine is by keeping it upright. By continuing to keep your open bottle of wine upright, you are minimizing the surface area of the wine that’s hitting the air.
Plus, it seems like a practical concept to keep your opened wine bottles upright. After you’ve opened your bottle of wine, you can wind up making the bottle leak if you haven’t re-sealed it correctly.
If that happens, you’ll have a very messy area of red wine to clean up, and you will have wasted a lot of your wine.
9 Ways to Preserve Wine
Now that we’ve covered some of the essential tips for preserving your opened bottles of wine (remember, store your wine in a cool, dark place using an upright stance), we’ll move on to discuss storage ideas.
All of these storage ideas are focused on keeping air out of your wine bottle. We’ve got nine different ways you can preserve your wine bottles below.
#1: Use the Cork
After you open your bottle of wine, you should develop a routine of placing your cork in the freezer right after you’ve popped open your wine. By placing the cork in the fridge, you’ ll be contracting it so that it’s easier to get back into the bottle once you are done.
Using the original cork is honestly the easiest way to store your wine. However, sometimes, it’s a natural process, and sometimes it’s complicated.
On occasion, the cork can expand so much it never seems to fit back into the bottle. If that happens, you can try the below ideas to try to get your cork to work:
- Find some wax paper and wrap the underside of the cork with it. By using wax paper, you’ll help to lubricate your cork. The lubrication the wax paper provides makes it much easier to slide the cork back into place. Also, using the wax paper will allow you to grab pieces of cork that came off from going into your wine bottle.
- Make sure you apply even, constant pressure when trying to get the cork back in. You don’t want to have to push too hard to re-position the cork. It’s better to twist the cork slowly and press it done to get it back into place.
By getting into the habit of placing your cork in the freezer, you’ll also be less likely to lose it. However, if for some reason you do lose your cork, or you cannot get the original cork back into place, you can use some of the other suggestions below to help preserve your wine.
#2: Buy a Wine Stopper
Another thing you can do is purchase a wine stopper or two. Wine stoppers nowadays come in a bevy of styles and colors with all types of decorations on them.
You’ll be able to find packs of wine stoppers that reflect your style and personality. We recommend purchasing wine stoppers that use rubber or soft plastic on the top area.
These materials are flexible and help fold down when you put the stopper in the wine. Then, after you’ve placed the stopper in, they’ll press outward into the wine bottle to seal the wine.
Wine stoppers are very convenient and easy to find. You can purchase one at just about any grocery store, or take a look at Amazon for a few ideas.
#3 Start Using Screw Caps
Not all wine lovers will like this suggestion because screw cap wine tends to be less expensive wine. However, one way you can avoid the whole problem of having to re-seal a wine bottle with a cork is by purchasing screw cap wine instead.
Even though screw-top wine seems to be looked down upon by the wine community, using a screw cap wine is no worse than using a cork to seal a bottle.
Honestly, screw caps work very well on wine bottles, and they are also easier to use. If you can’t often finish your bottles in one go, then you might want to stop purchasing corked bottles.
While this option might work for some, it probably won’t work for all wine lovers. Not to worry, though. We have more suggestions below.
#4 Make Your Stopper
If you have lost your cork, you don’t have a wine stopper, and you don’t know what to do about sealing off that bottle of wine, don’t worry. You can easily make a wine stopper by looking around your kitchen.
Plastic wrap and aluminum foil are options for covering a wine bottle. However, while using items like plastic wrap and aluminum foil won’t make your seal air-tight, you can make things better by wrapping a rubber band around the top of the bottle.
That way, things will stay in place better, and you’ve created a better seal.
#5 Vacuum Seal Your Wine
If you’re trying to store your opened wine bottle for as long as possible, then consider purchasing a wine vacuum to help seal off your wine, especially if you buy wine often.
Wine vacuums are reasonably affordable and help to keep the air out of wine bottles so that you have a secure vacuum seal. These gadgets help take the oxygen out of the bottle with ease.
By taking as much air out of the bottle as you can, you’ll be preventing the oxidation of the wine. That way, your wine may last as long as two weeks.
#6 Buy an Inert Gas Wine Preserver
You can also consider purchasing an inert gas wine preserver. However, inert gas wine preservers are a little bit more expensive than some of the other wine solutions, like a wine stopper, provided above. Still, this gives you a high-tech option to help preserve your wine bottles.
For example, the Coravin Wine Preservation System is one such product that lets you enjoy some of your wine without ever opening the bottle. I love this product and I’m astonished at the price it’s listed for on Amazon.
By piercing the cork, you’ll be able to pour out what you like. Once you are done, you replace the wine you drank with argon gas, which helps keep air out of the bottle.
If you need something a bit more affordable, consider trying the Private Preserve. This product is a less fancy option that gives you the fundamentals you’ll need at a lower price.
Private Preserve, offers a cheaper option with a much less fancy spray bottle.
#7 Reduce Surface Area
If you think about it, another massive problem for wine that makes it age more rapidly is increased surface area. The more surface area, the more the wine hits the air, and then the faster it will degenerate.
If you are the type of person that never finishes a bottle of wine, you’ll have to figure out how to preserve that wine before you drink it again tomorrow.
One trick you can use to reduce the surface area of your wine is by moving your wine into a smaller bottle. We recommend using wines that come as half-bottles, or 375ml bottles, of wine. Most grocery stores carry half bottles.
They also typically sell full bottles of wine (750 ml), as well. However, these small wine bottles are an excellent thing to purchase if you tend to only drink about half a bottle of wine at a time.
However, half of the bottles do tend to cost you a bit more compared to full containers. The more wine you buy, the cheaper it is. So, consider saving these half-bottles of wine, and then go back to full bottles.
Keep your half bottles as storage containers. To use this method, all you need to do is drink your half bottle and then rinse it out thoroughly. Save that bottle.
The next time you need to save some wine, move your other wine from the standard sized bottle into your half bottle. You can then close off the bottle with saran wrap and a rubber band. Remember that you will need to use some kind of seal.
After that, you can put the bottle in the fridge. You’ll be able to keep the wine two days longer with this storage method. Once you’re done, rinse out that half bottle and keep it again for the next time around.
#8 The Fridge
We’ve already mentioned using a fridge a few times to store your wine in some of our other points above. However, the refrigerator is so essential when it comes to storing wine; we feel it deserves its spot.
To learn just how important a wine cooler fridge can be for proper wine storage, check out this article I wrote.
If you don’t have a half-bottle or another type of container for your wine, you can always use your fridge to extend the life of your wine.
Since the temperature inside your fridge is cooler, you won’t have to worry about as much oxygen damage to your wine when you place your wine in the refrigerator.
You’ll still need to seal the wine someway, using the cork, a wine stopper, or a rubber band and aluminum foil, and then place it in the fridge. By doing that, your wine should still taste great when you try to drink it the following day.
#9 Use Paper Towel if You’ve Lost the Cork
If you’ve lost the cork, or you break it when you open your bottle of wine, then know you can make another cork out of a paper towel. Paper towels make good temporary corks.
Along with paper towels, you’ll also need some plastic wrap and tape to do this. Remember, this is only temporary, and you should use something else for long-term storage, but it will get you through a bind.
The below method will get you through 24 hours, and after that, you’ll need to replace your temporary cork:
- Tear off some paper towel bits and fold them down, so they are around two inches wide all around.
- Begin at a shorter end and roll the paper towel that you’ve folded until you’ve made a cork. Look at the size of the cork you’ve made and check to see if it will fit. You may need to tear some off and make it smaller. Or, if you need it larger, add more bits of paper towel.
- Now, grab your tape and tape the end of your paper towel. Take plastic wrap and wrap it around the paper towel.
- You’ve made your cork. Now, you just push and twist it in and work it into the bottle until you see that the container is sealed successfully.
A Note About Sparkling Wines
Keep in mind that the above solutions won’t work well for sparkling wines. Since sparkling wine tends to get flat quickly, you need to make sure you perfectly re-seal the bottle.
Not even vacuums work well for sparkling wine because they tend to remove the carbonation out of the wine. So, if you are trying to preserve sparkling wines, you’ll want to purchase a champagne stopper.
Champagne stoppers are made to work well even with the carbonation and create a great seal with the stopper. By purchasing one of these, you’ll wind up with an extra two to three days on your sparkling wine.
How to Keep Wine After You Open It: Step by Step Process
Now that we’ve covered nine different methods you can use to preserve your wine, we’ll cover some steps to maintaining your wine after you open it.
Since you don’t want the air and oxygen to ruin your wine’s flavor, you can use the following steps to preserve your wine. You’ll notice that the steps below combine a few preservation procedures so that you can get the most out of your wine.
Step #1: Seal Off the Bottle
First, you’ll need to make sure you cork the bottle or create a cork if you’ve lost it using one of our suggestions above. If you can, use the original cork, a reusable wine stopper, saran wrap, and a rubber band, or the paper towel method we mentioned above.
Make sure that no matter what method you use to make your cork, you re-cork correctly by placing the cork in the bottle the same way as you pulled it out.
Don’t put the “cleaner” end of the cork against the wine, even if you think it’s better. Remember, that side might not be as clean as you think it is.
Step #2: Place the Bottle in the Fridge
Next, make sure you place your opened, corked bottle of wine into a wine fridge to make your wine last a few more days. Remember, storing wine at about 55 degrees F is the best setting.
You also want to avoid storing the bottle on its side after you’ve opened it. Whether you store your wine on a rack or in the fridge, you want to keep the wine upright.
Keeping the bottle upright in the fridge cuts back on the surface area of the wine and exposes the jar to more oxygen. If you have a smaller container of half-bottle of wine, you can always transfer your wine, then cork it, place it in the fridge to reduce the surface area.
Remember, putting your wine in the fridge doesn’t mean your wine won’t eventually go bad. However, the refrigerator helps slow down the wine’s aging process.
#3: Keep the Wine Away from Light and Heat
Last, make sure you keep the wine away from light and heat as you store it. A cold, dark fridge is the best place to keep it. If your wine gets exposed to fluorescent bulbs or sunlight, it will age faster, and go bad quicker.
Remember, don’t store wine in temperatures that are over 70 degrees F. You also don’t want to keep your wine near to any windows.
Remember, when you are ready to drink your wine again, you should take it out of the fridge and leave it out, so it warms up to room temperature. If you want to warm it up faster, you can run lukewarm water over the bottle.
Now that you know how to keep wine without a cork, you’ll be able to preserve your wine for more extended periods. That way, you’ll get the most out of the wine that you purchase.
We covered how wine ages, ways to keep wine without a cork, and steps you can use to help preserve your wine without a cork. So, now that you know how to store your wine without a cork properly, you should be able to enjoy your wine more often.
This article was reviewed for accuracy by Phoebe Fynn. Phoebe Flynn is a wine specialist and educator on a mission to make wine more fun and accessible. Phoebe passed her Court of Master Sommeliers Level One Exam last October and is currently preparing to sit her Level Two Exam this August. She believes wine is a lifelong study and vows to never stop learning. Follow her wine journey on Instagram @yourwinefriend.
Check out her author bio page for more information.