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On the third evening it was even better

I’ve been noticing a lot of posts and reviews about various wines (mostly, but not exclusively, reds) which read something like this:

“It wasn’t that great / was just OK / tasted a bit [description] when we opened it, but when we had another glass the second evening it tasted more of [second description], and on the third evening it was even better!”

These are helpful reviews, and I like them, but I do have a couple of questions.

Firstly, how do you manage the self-restraint? (Or do you just switch to a bottle that’s more drinkable in the moment?)

Secondly and more importantly - how are the wines being stored in the meantime? If I get a bottle and I open it and it’s not top-notch straight away, how do I reach this mythical third evening of sublimity?

  • Is the bottle left open?
  • Is the bottle re-corked?
  • Do you use a vacu-vin or similar?
  • One of those Magic Expensive Gas Saver Things?
  • If decanted, do you recant, or leave out?

Tell me your secrets!

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My wife doesn’t drink much wine at all so I’ll often open a bottle, simply put the cork back in and leave it in the fridge.

I have a Coravin and was given an Eto decanter thing but for most everyday wines I feel a recork and the fridge work very well

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I just pop the cork back in and put it in the utility room, which is usually a bit cooler than the kitchen. If it’s summer, I’ll put it in the fridge, now I come to think of it.

Restraint-wise, I think it helps that I’m just a very slow drinker (the wine glass is my decanter) and that I’m often the only one, as the other half only drinks one day a week, if that.

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That is almost exactly the same in our house. Except, I must confess, perhaps the bit about being a slow drinker.

I have plenty of accessories (or as they are sometimes referred to “toys”) but normally end up just using the cork or the vacuvin.

And I do agree the majority of -normally red - wines I drink do benefit from some time open.

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Similar story here to be honest. Generally a glass a day, my wife rarely drinks. I would gladly drink more but try to refrain as for me personally I think that could be a slippery slope. I do drink most days though.

I vacuvin but don’t refrigerate unless it’s a white.

Totally agree with the concept of the glass being my decanter.

On occasion I have double decanted back into the bottle for something I know is perhaps a bit young or would benefit from some air, but generally not.

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Same as above, I’m often the only drinker. For better wines I may use Coravin over a few weeks, but generally back in the fridge with a cork.

What I would add though is the wines I have found improve most (as opposed to just holding off de-grading) are dessert wines such as Sauternes. I often prefer these after a few days, they don’t collapse and with a bit of air they get a greater depth.

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Although I certainly love reds, I normally tend towards whites / roses, and we tend often to open reds more really for when wife fancies some wine too. Maybe one red a week or so. We’ll normally have them over 2-3-4 nights [my whites / roses will not uncommonly last only the one night; cough], and as others more expert than I have said, just pop the cork back in and into the fridge she goes; then take them out again an hour or two before we eat the next day/s. Simples.

I’ve never used a vacu-vin as wines just don’t last long enough in our house. I think they’re aimed much more for longer-term dibbly-dabbly drinking.

It’s not only reds that can really shine after some days open; some of my favourite whites are similar, and I’ll often decant them for that reason. Often seems curious to me that a lot of folk don’t seem to decant whites. Not that all whites will benefit from it of course. But many will IMO.

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Like @Herbster I’m a very slow drinker and generally only drink one glass during the evening and the glass size is such that I now get 5 glasses to a bottle (I used to do the official 6 glasses but I’ve got a little more generous). I don’t consciously restrict myself to this amount; I just find it’s what suits me. I would comment that if I’m eating and drinking at a table (I don’t generally bother) then I do usually drink a little more. And some nights I just fancy more!

As I’m the only drinker and I always drink in this manner I know that any wine I open will have to go, usually, 5 nights. So on opening I generally put half into a half bottle filled right up and corked (vinolocks are my friends here) and popped into the fridge (annoyingly I usually forget to take it out again in time to warm up (red wines)). The remaining glass and a half usually now just stays in the original bottle. I do use an eto as well but I generally only go this route nowadays if I’m opening two bottles at the same time (for tasting comparison purposes sometimes) so they will have to last rather longer.

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Oh dear reading all these posts I feel slightly ashamed. I have drunk and had a passion for wine all my life. ( 70 years ). I drink a bottle every night with my meal and my wife loves her rose half a bottle with our meal which can last at least two hours. My old boss used to drink a bottle of Brandy daily smoked 30 a day and you will never guess what he died. ( 87 ) There are no rules just enjoy your life and do what makes you happy.

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My experience is:

2nd/3rd night tends to apply to more tannic reds that are not yet at peak maturity. Some whites or dessert wines too but rarer.

Never use a vacuvin these days. I used to, and didn’t ever feel that a wine tasted better after that. Generally I just recork or clingfilm the bottle. I have ETO decanters too but don’t tend to use them much as I’ve found the results a bit variable.

I have found pinot noirs which open out over a few hours, but never one that tasted better the next day. But I’ve never had any really top burgundy.

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I have a vacu-vin and one of those ETOs, but I rarely use either. Not convinced vacu-vins work and I don’t like the rubbery -plasticky taint with the ETO.

Once opened I just re-stopper them with a Pulltex (Pulltex AntiOx Wine Preserver/Stopper Black, Wine Preservation & Cellarware; UK Wine Cellar Equipment Suppliers - Wineware.co.uk) and put in the fridge if it’s going to be left til the next day; just get it / them out for a suitable period prior to subsequent consumption (30mins for a white, maybe 2 hours for a red). In the winter, though, my north facing walk-in pantry is cool enough for them to be left out of the fridge.

On the whole, whites definitely more often than not are not as enjoyable the second day - often loosing aromatics and mouthfeel. Reds on the whole are more nuanced and complex on day 2.

Pretty sure there was a similar thread on JR’s PP forum some years ago and JR herself commented that IHO the single most effective intervention to keep a wine drinkable the next day is to put it in the fridge overnight.

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+1 for fridging everything, red or white, especially if it’s going to be more than one night before you come back to a bottle.

My sense is that Vacuvins, which I’ve used for years, certainly don’t wholly prevent oxidation of wine, but probably do slow it down. You can keep a bottle under a vacuvin for 5 or 6 days which I wouldn’t try just with a cork.

Whether that’s good or bad is a different matter - for tannic wines which you’re going to drink within 24 hours of opening you might get more benefit from simply recorking.

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So, isn’t this just an indication that the wine isn’t being aerated enough before drinking?

I’ve taken to doing a ritual aeration before drinking any red wine:

  • open wine
  • pour through the Vinturi into a plastic jug
  • rinse bottle out with hot water
  • leave bottle full of very hot water for 5 minutes, then empty it
  • pour wine back into bottle through a funnel, leaving it foaming
  • drink, to quote Father Jack
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Almost the same ritual here - bar Vinturi and a plastic jug. Always decant reds to aerate and always pour back into the bottle. Unless there is a lot of sediment we don’t bother washing the bottle, though. We do the same with some whites (mainly Alsatian and Rhone whites).

We always share a bottle, so very rarely does anything remain for the following day. However, as we drink with dinner and then afterwards with TV or music on - we almost always detect an evolution in the wine (of both hues) over the course of an evening; only the simplest wines don’t change in some way.

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I believe there have been various scientific experiments that show that the lower temperatures in a fridge slow down oxidation more than things like vacuvin and sticking the original cork back in. So the science backs this up.

St Emillion.

Drops off a cliff after 24 hours or less, no matter the quality level or whatever I use to stopper / prevent evolution. No idea why - it just does. Maybe it’s just a Merlot thing ?

I find it difficult to generalise…I’ve had claret that’s been better and worse on night 2, likewise Burgundy.

I have noticed that Rhone with significant Grenache component is almost always better on day of opening.

I either Coravin if only wanting a glass or two, or open it if I know it’s all going in one or two nights. I tend to pour (or Coravin) a very small sample to see if it needs a decant, or if CV a pour an hour or so before.

All the above applies to reds. Most whites keep fine in fridge for 4-5 days I think. Perhaps some loss of aromatics.

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Basically, if it’s a quality wine and is not up to expectation, stick the cork back in and open something else.

Not convinced “quick” aerating makes that much difference. In my experience it often needs quite a few hours in a decanter to make much difference.

Unless it’s Musar, of course. In which case, taste half a glass after an hour or two. Put in fridge, and have a glass the next day. By the third day it should be pretty much ready.

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Most recent bottle of 2003 that I had was the exception to this (I agree in general that’s not a bad plan!).

Coravined a small glass to try it several hours before intended consumption time. It was really good. Maybe opened up a little more after an hour. Was no better the next day quite unusually.

Hmm… I don’t see how this Pulltex thing could possibly work? Just a bit of activated charcoal (approx less than 1gm from the looks of it) - removing oxygen?? … and “its efficiency is guaranteed for FIVE years” ???