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It’s easy to indulge with a great bottle of Lambrusco when you’re enjoying great friends and good food, but what to do with the Lambrusco that’s left? Do most people assume that storing Lambrusco in the kitchen fridge is the best way to keep it fresh for extended periods, but is that actually the case?
Lambrusco is the name of both a grape and the region in Italy where it comes from. Italian Lambrusco is typically produced from the clay soil vineyards in and around the Po River Valley near Modena. Though originally from the Apennines, Lambrusco can also be found elsewhere in Italy, namely in Sicily and the Alto Adige. The grape has been transported to the New World, and has taken root in places like Argentina and the Central Valley of California.
Lambrusco is a lighter red wine with a slight fizz and should be stored (opened as well as unopened) in the refrigerator or in a cool room or closet because of its somewhat delicate makeup. Lambrusco is not a wine that is made to age for decades or even years, so Lambrusco wine does not keep well when shuttled from the fridge to the shelf.
This article will cover all the proper ways that you can store your Lambrusco, including refrigeration, and what happens to Lambrusco when it is stored improperly.
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How to Store Lambrusco after Opening
After opening Lambrusco, put it in the refrigerator. Another option is using a professional wine preserver if you don’t mind paying. This will keep your wine fresh for even longer. There are many gadgets and devices available. Two wine preservation systems seem to be the most popular and effective. Read below for examples.
Vacuum pumps suck the air out of an opened bottle so it can be re-sealed hermetically without the oxygen affecting the wine. This is an affordable option commonly used in restaurants and bars.
The best-known brand is called Vacu-Vin: this company invented the vacuum pump wine preservation system (Amazon link). They promise up to two weeks extra life for an opened bottle of wine.
Inert wine gas preservation systems can keep your opened wine fresh for even longer, but this is usually more of an enthusiast option since they can be quite expensive.
This system is based on inserting an inert gas – usually argon – into the bottle. This gas, being heavier than oxygen, creates a protective layer on the surface of the wine.
From the moment you open the bottle of Lambrusco, the clock is ticking, and your wine is beginning to lose its aromas and flavor characteristics.
Wine has quite a few enemies – light and heat among the worst. But exposure to oxygen is the greatest threat it faces. Oxygen turns wine into vinegar.
So when considering how to preserve wine, it’s key to make sure that your wine is protected from exposure to the air as much as possible. A good start is remembering to close the bottle after each pour.
Lambrusco Storage Temperature
Lambrusco should be stored between 45 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature should not fluctuate and should be kept consistent at all times. Italian Lambrusco could be compared to white wine in terms of storage temperature so long-term storage at 40 degrees and lower will eventually stunt the maturity of the wine.
Essentially, wine does not sit well with temperature fluctuations, and moving it from room to room in addition to putting it into a very cold refrigerator will definitely throw it off. It is always better to keep it stored at one consistent temperature.
Keeping it in a storage room away from electrical appliances is a great idea. However, if the room is too hot it will “cook” the wine, leading to a raisin-like and musky flavor. A room that is too cold will make wine flat and without the body.
Many times you will hear the expression, “serve wine at room temperature”, but what does this mean?
While the Oxford English Dictionary states that room temperature is conventionally taken as about 20 °C (68 °F), it might actually surprise you to discover that what’s referred to as ‘room temperature for wines’ might be a bit cold, as it’s actually, a bit cooler: 15 to 18 °C (59–64 °F).
What we’ve come to expect as normal room temperature is actually quite a bit warmer than the optimal serving temperature for wines. With the widespread use of air conditioning and central heating, rooms can often be either too hot or even sometimes too cold.
Does Lambrusco Need to be refrigerated?
Lambrusco needs to be refrigerated, but only at certain temperatures, and only for a limited amount of time. Ideally, it should be stored between 45 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit, but because most fridges are not set to maintain temperatures above 40 degrees, this method of storage is not recommended for long-term use.
Because they’re usually best enjoyed chilled, putting opened white wines in the fridge feels instinctive, but when it comes to red wine because its characteristics are better expressed in warmer temperatures, any form of chilling might seem like a faux pas.
But you shouldn’t be afraid of storing your opened Lambrusco in the fridge. Cooler temperatures slow down chemical processes, including oxidation. A re-closed bottle of red (or white) wine in the fridge can stay relatively fresh for up to five days.
If you want to store Lambrusco for a long time to get the best development inside the bottle, the temperature must be controlled and regulated and this means not in the refrigerator. Your storage area must be kept at a lower than room temperature at 10-15 °C (50-59°F).
How long does Lambrusco Last after Opening?
An opened bottle of Lambrusco can last for up to five days in the refrigerator. If using a vacuum pump, the wine can last up to two weeks. Inert gas preservation systems that create a protective layer over the wine can preserve Lambrusco for up to 30 days.
Coravin is the best-known inert gas preservation system on the market today. This brand offers a device with a needle that punctures a hole in the cork to extract wine without pulling the cork out thus avoiding any contact with oxygen. The wine is then replaced with argon gas and the cork naturally re-seals as if the bottle had never been opened.
There is also an option for screw cap wines that, according to Coravin, can keep the wine fresh for up to three months.
Private Preserve is a more affordable solution is a gas canister system. This works in a similar way to Coravin. You insert a mixture of gas into the bottle to protect the wine from oxygen.
With this system, you have to uncork the bottle and use the gas when resealing it, so there will be some exposure to oxygen. Private Preserve promises that the wine will last “for months and even years”.
(A quick note about preservation systems: wine preservation systems, unfortunately, do not work for sparkling wines. Inert gas-based systems are only suitable for still wines, while the vacuum pumps will suck out the bubbles, leaving the wine flat).
TIP: Most wines go bad once you pop the cork 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 to see if it fits your lifestyle.
If you don’t want to invest in an expensive wine preservation system, you could consider decanting your left-over wines into smaller bottles and keeping them in the fridge under a screw cap. There’s less room for air in small bottles so less exposure to oxygen.
TIP: To learn how to store white wine after opening, check out this article I wrote. To discover if wine fridges are only for storing white wine, check out this complete guide I wrote. And for a complete breakdown of how to store wine long-term in 8 simple steps, you need to read this guide I wrote.
How to Store Unopened Lambrusco
Be sure to store unopened Lambrusco in a dark room, closet, pantry, or if you have access to one, a wine cellar. Direct light is dangerous for all wines and they should always be stored in the dark.
Strong light can damage a wine’s flavors/aromas and lead to discoloration, but Lambrusco is sold in darker bottles, so the sunlight’s negative effect cannot get in.
Does Lambrusco Go Bad if Unopened?
As previously mentioned, Lambrusco should be stored without exposure to bright light in order to not go bad when unopened.
This includes UV sunlight or fluorescent LED lighting. Lighting can often contribute to the wine heating up as well as temperature fluctuations, and your Lambrusco might go bad in this instance.
There is also substantial research that shows that light causes chemical restructuring in the bottle, hence why wine is rarely bottled in clear glass bottles! The basis of this is that sulfurous compounds are created at a faster rate which essentially speeds up aging and can develop unpleasant flavors.
How long can Lambrusco Last Unopened?
Lambrusco wine can last 1-3 years unopened as long as you imagine you are putting the bottle to bed! It needs to sleep in the dark and on its side. This is most important when the bottle is sealed with a cork, over time the cork will dry out. If stored vertically, the cork can crumble into the bottle and also let air in thus oxidizing the wine and spoiling its flavors.
If the bottle is laid flat, the cork is constantly in contact with moisture, preventing it from drying out. Some bottles of Lambrusco are sealed with a screw cap.
In this case, you don’t need to store it on its side. If your wine has a screw cap it can be stored standing vertically. It is a common myth that screw cap wines can’t be aged. Many wines are now sealed using this method (around 25-30%) and some of the best wines from Australia and New Zealand have screw caps.
If you want to age wine with a screw cap closure, it is best to pick a wine that already has the body, tannins, alcohol, and structure like Lambrusco.
TIP: If you want to know more about how to store your wines correctly check out this article. And for the complete breakdwon of storing wines with natural and synthetic corks check out this article.
Since so much of the storage conundrum has to do with air, let’s take a look at why it matters so much when storing opened or unopened Lambrusco.
So much of the process of creating wine is controlling how much air touches the drink. Grapes undergo two types of fermentation to become wine:
One is Aerobic fermentation which uses oxygen to feed yeasts that turn the natural sugars in the juice into carbon dioxide. This initial fermentation can take up to 5 to 10 days.
The second fermentation happens when the juice is resting in a barrel. This is called anaerobic fermentation, which is the process of yeast breaking down glucose without the presence of oxygen. This process takes up to three weeks.
After the second fermentation, exposure to oxygen is detrimental to the wine’s maturity. However, a little bit of air is a good thing for wine.
Ethanol – alcohol – is less dense than the juice in the bottle, and it sits right on top of the wine. If you look closely enough at your Lambrusco, you will see a translucent layer of liquid on top of wine: that is straight alcohol.
Once a bottle of wine is opened, the ethanol vapors are released, which has an overpowering aroma. That is why you hear people say, “this wine needs to breathe.” This means that the Lambrusco needs to oxidize for a moment and let the initial vapors settle.
With that said, always store Lambrusco with a cork or cap. Too much air will jump-start aerobic fermentation in the wine, causing spoilage. Reinsert the cork or use a bottle stopper to store the wine. This is why storing open or closed bottles of Lambrusco in the kitchen fridge can be problematic.
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