Don’t buy this wine gift … really!

‘Tis the season again, that jolly, snowy winter season when you’re bombarded with constant calls to buy, buy, buy gifts for the holidays.

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Here’s a surprise: I’m not going to do that today. In fact, I’m here to talk about a wine-related gift that I suggest you don’t buy.

In this season when you’re hearing about all the wine-geek holiday gifts that you can’t live without, I’m here to suggest that you don’t put any new, high-tech wine-preservation systems in your wine-loving friends’ stockings.

You know the kind of product I’m talking about: The rubber stoppers and hand-worked pumps that pull air out of the bottle; the aerosol cans that squirt inert gases in. The pricier systems that inject nitrogen or other inert gas into the bottle through a slender needle that goes through the cork. The fancy decanter with a heavy lid that drops down into the vessel, displacing air as the wine is consumed, or the high-end system that uses nitrogen – or even pricey argon – to both preserve and dispense your treasured wine.

Wine Bottle Woolies set from Sundance.

Wine Bottle Woolies set from Sundance.

Forget ’em all, I say. Save your hard-earned bucks for better things. A new wine book, maybe. Or better yet, a special bottle of wine for the holidays that you might not normally include in your budget. That’s the way to please yourself and your friends.

So, what’s going on here? It’s simple, really. After years and years of trying all these alternative ways to keep leftover wine fresh and good once the bottle has been opened, I’ve reached a simple conclusion: None of them really work any better than simply sticking the cork back in (or replacing the screw cap) and keeping the bottle in the refrigerator for a day or two. Give it a little time out of the fridge to lose its chill when you’re ready to drink the rest (especially for a red), and it will be fine for two or three days, drinkable for a week or more.

But how about that bottle of bubbly that you opened for toasting, you ask? That fancy mushroom-shaped cork expands when it pops out. There’s no way you can get it back in the bottle. But here’s a low-tech solution: Form a small square of cling wrap over the top – secure it with a rubber band if you’re nervous – and it will hold the carbonation inside nicely.

Got Tawny Port or a sweet Sherry? Don’t even bother with the refrigerator. These powerful wines, high in alcohol and naturally oxidized as part of their style, aren’t going to decay over a few weeks. I don’t recommend going back to the old days when Sherry was customarily stored in a decanter on the sideboard from Christmas to Easter, though! Moderation is the key here; ditto for lighter, drier Sherry like Fino, which needs the same refrigerator treatment as reds or whites.

Finally, if you’re really intent on keeping part of a bottle for a longer stretch, I’ve heard good results from simply pouring half of the bottle into a clean 375 ml half-bottle, filling it up to the top, and re-stoppering it with a clean, sound wine cork … or better yet, a screw cap.

The simplest solution for leftover wine, though (and yes, there really is such a thing, now and then), is simply to come back and finish the within a couple of days … use the leftovers for cooking … or invite friends over to share.

Bon appétit and happy holidays!

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Today’s Tasting Report

E. Guigal 2016 Côtes du Rhône Blanc ($14.99)

E. Guigal

This clear, light but bright gold wine comprises a typical Southern Rhône white blend of 60% Viognier, 15% Roussanne, 10% Marsanne, 8 % Clairette, 5% Bourboulenc, and 2% Grenache Blanc. Delicious yet subtle scents of tropical fruit – mangoes, green figs and pineapple – flirt with white flowers and a distinct note of honeycomb in the background. Fresh and bright on the palate, it’s medium-bodied or perhaps a bit more on the palate, reading as rich but stopping well short of unctuous. The mixed fruits of the nose merge into something not quite as complex but just as delicious that speaks of peaches and pears, wrapped up with a firm structure of fresh acidity and 13.5% alcohol. U.S. importer: Vintus LLC, Pleasantville, N.Y. (Dec. 6, 2018)

FOOD MATCH: The winery offers broad advice, suggesting appetizers, fish, and Asian food in general. It went well for us with a Southern Italian dish, pasta e lenticchie, lentils with tomatoes and short strands of linguine.

WHEN TO DRINK: The winery suggests aging potential of three years after the vintage. While I wouldn’t discard it immediately on its fourth birthday, I think drinking it up in the next year or so would be a good idea.

It’s a very good Southern French white, a fine value at’s $15 average retail.

Here’s E. Guigal’s fact sheet. Click each vintage for more specific information on other years.

Search for vendors and compare prices for E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc on


More affordable wines

Want tips to more good, inexpensive wines? Here are Wine-Searcher links to vendors and prices for a bunch more wines for $10 or less that I’ve told you about during the past few months. Please tell us about your favorites!

  • Laroque 2016 Cité de Carcassonne Cabernet Franc ($9.99)
  • Domaine de Pouy 2016 Côtes de Gascogne ($7.99)
  • Alamos 2015 Salta Torrontés ($9.99)
  • Alamos 2015 Mendoza Malbec ($9.99)
  • Caposaldo 2014 Chianti ($8.99)
  • d’Arenberg 2012 McLaren Vale “The Stump Jump” ($9.99)
  • Oveja Negra 2014 Maule Valley Cabernet Franc – Carmenere Reserva ($9.99)
  • Côté Mas 2016 “Rouge Intense” Sud de France Pays d’Oc ($12.99/1 liter)

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