Thursday, March 10, 2011

Leftover wine: tragic drama or happy ending?

One of my wine guys at my local Spec's recently sold me a tall can--I'm talkin' like Aqua Net in the economy size--of what feels like...nothing.  This can is actually full of gas: argon, carbon dioxide and nitrogen, to be specific.  And it's used for preserving leftover wine.  That's right, I said, "leftover wine."

I know, you're probably having the same thought I did when my wine guy convinced me to buy a can of Private Preserve: "Leftover wine???  What's that?"  Because at my house, leftover wine is such a rare occurence that it might occur at the same rate of frequency as, say, sightings of Haley's Comet.  Well, let me revise that: Vindaloo doesn't want to give her devotees the idea that she is a flaming lush.  That fire went out a looooong time ago.

My previous attempts to save whatever precious drops of grape nectar were left in the bottle (in the absence of said can-o-gas and of course, a zoned wine cooler) can be summed up in a short and tragic little treatise:

1. Use Vacu Vin to extract harmful oxygen from bottle.  Transfer original cork directly to craft room for future occupational therapy.  Leave bottle in a variety of places, just for fun and in the name of science (see below for suggested locales).  Or...
2. Replace cork and leave on countertop next to stove.
3. Replace cork and leave on countertop next to dishwasher (in front of large window with western exposure).
4. Replace cork and put in refrigerator door compartment.
5. Replace cork and leave in garage (on chilly nights when refrigerator is full--which is most of the time).
6. Replace cork, leave on outside patio table all night long.  On a hot, humid August night.  In central Texas.
7. Forget to replace cork.  Leave open bottle next to large bowl of ripening mangoes.  Discover evidence of gnat debauchery and fruit fly bacchanalia when attempt is made to salvage (slightly evaporated) wine the next day.  Strain wine for other use.  Really.
8. Use duct tape to seal bottle (or in the absence of duct tape, baggie and rubber band/twistie tie) when cork rolls under stove or has become a cat toy due to your negligence and/or blood alcohol content.

As you might imagine, none of these techniques were very successful, except for #4, which my wine guy actually praised as being a solution that might be workable in the absence of the pricey can of Private Preserve.  The theory about the refrigerator door compartment, he stated, is that most refrigerators are too cold to properly store leftover wine.  The door compartment, however, is warmer--which is why the American Dairy Council has recommended that you not store your milk there, lest you risk spoilage.  Awww, tell me you didn't already know this???

But wine?  That's a different story.  Wine is a bit temperamental.  It doesn't like to be too warm or too cold.  Overchill any bottle of Reisling, Gewurtztraminer, or Alsatian white wine and you will negate all the florals, spices and minerals, which will bloom once the wine has warmed, of course.  However, Vindaloo has found that an uncorked bottle of Champagne left in the freezer makes a delightful concoction that she refers to as The Champagne Slushie.  Especially lovely with duck foie gras and cognac mustard on toasted cocktail pumpernickel.  WARNING: TO AVOID BRAIN FREEZE, SIP, DO NOT GULP SLUSHIE!!!

Reds don't like it too chilly either and need a little warmth for their bouquet to bloom.  Think cool room temperature to "cellar temperature," which is anywhere from 52 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit (see for more specific details).  And let this be your warning, readers: any wine that has a label that reads, "Chillable Red!" is probably a wine to steer clear of.  Chillable red (hint: starts with an "F" and comes in a box) means sweet red, and although taste in wine is a highly personal thing, the sweetners used in chillable reds (aka "other natural flavors") render this beverage, in Vindaloo's terribly humble opinion, something akin to an experiment in genetic engineering.

OK, off my soap box now. 

The other method that I felt sure would win me points with my wine guy, the Vacu Vin system, is apparently a less-than-stellar idea.  Using the Vacu Vin (a pump and rubber corking system designed to stop the oxidation process) can actually strip the wine of its lovely attributes, something that Vindaloo is now loathe to do, especially after being newly educated about wine preservation and particularly after spending her hard-earned cashola on a decent bottle of wine.

Of course, Vindaloo realizes that she is the poster child for the P. T. Barnum quotation "There's a sucker born every minute," and that she wears the evidence of this on her comely visage.  It could be that my wine guy wants to boost sales for his store (and why should he not?), or that my wine guy knows a elitist when he sees one, or that there is some darkly evil plot afoot by the makers of Private Preserve to slowly poison the choosey wine drinkers of America.  Why else would they have to print "Completely Safe!" and "Harmless!" on the can?  The alchemist doth protest too much, methinks!  And being the paranoid conspiracy theorist that she is, Vindaloo might be inclined to fall down this slippery slope of oenothological reasoning.  And break her wine-pouring arm.

Oh, pish and bother!  I just want to drink my leftover wine (on the rare occasion that it exists) in approximately the same condition that I last left it: delicious, luscious and spectacular.  So currently, I have several Private Preserve experiments in different stages stored around the house.  I'll keep you posted on that happy ending...

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