How To Preserve Champagne Bubbles Without A Wine Stopper

Whether you're popping bottles for a birthday bash or sharing a toast with your partner, a sparkling wine is probably in order. The downside of a delicious bottle of bubbly is that some of the wine is usually left languishing in the bottle, and before you know it, your Champagne or other sparkling drink has gone from fantastic to flat.

If you can't finish your bottle of Champagne in one go, you have several options for storing it to make the bubbles last. Some of the simplest solutions use nothing more than plastic wrap or aluminum foil. You also have fancier options, like a sparkling wine preservation system, which may or may not be worth the investment. Additionally, how long an open bottle of Champagne lasts is definitely influenced by temperature — keep it as cold as possible in the fridge, or even store it on ice.

You may be wondering, "Why can't I just put the cork back in the bottle?". That's because the cork used for sparkling wines starts out as cylindrical, but because of the carbon dioxide inside the bottle, it starts to expand. Once it grows into that recognizable mushroom shape, there's no way to force it back into the bottle. In fact, you shouldn't even try. The cork isn't as secure as it was before you opened the bottle, and it could hurt you or someone else if it shoots out and goes flying, due to the pressure inside the bottle.

Using foil or plastic wrap to store Champagne

Sealing an open bottle of sparkling wine with aluminum foil or plastic wrap is pretty self-explanatory. Rip off a small piece of foil or wrap and place it over the opening of the bottle, making as tight of a seal as you can. You can also use a piece of plastic wrap, then wrap a rubber band around the opening of the bottle, to really make sure the carbonation will not escape. 

If for some reason you do not have these items — for instance, you might be partying in a vacation rental or hotel — you could try using a piece of paper, a paper towel, or a cloth kitchen towel. Roll your material of choice into a cork shape, or simply bunch it up into a ball. Then, shove it into the opening, and try and fill as much of the space in the neck of the bottle as possible. This will not create as tight of a seal, so the bottle will still go flat relatively quickly. However, this is definitely a better option than just leaving it open and hoping for the best. 

For sparkling wine enthusiasts, these rougher methods might sound inadequate for protecting their precious bottles. Or maybe you always hesitate to splurge on Champagne, because you don't exactly have a crowd around at all times to help finish it, and it seems like a waste of money. In these cases, a sparkling wine preservation system may be worth the investment.

The facts about high-tech wine preservation systems

A sparkling wine preservation system sounds complex, but no worries — you won't be hooking up your wine bottle to test tubes and cables. These small tools work by closing around the opening of the bottle to seal it, then pumping carbon dioxide in to fill the empty space, which displaces oxygen. A lack of carbon dioxide is what makes wine go flat, while oxidization might cause it to taste "off."

According to the brand Coravin, which makes preservation systems, these tools can keep your Champagne nice and bubbly for up to a month. Fans and sommeliers have spoken to how well these systems work, but it certainly comes at a cost. A system from Coravin will run you about $400, not including the carbon dioxide canister refills that you will need to keep purchasing as you use your machine.

For those unwilling to splurge, a hermetic wine cork may be a good investment for flat Champagne woes.These reusable metal corks are specifically designed to preserve carbonation in sparkling wines. They create a tight seal over the opening of the bottle, and also have hinged arms that hook onto the lip of the bottle to keep the cork secure. A very sleek version from Le Creuset costs around $50. On the other hand, you can find simple ones from a restaurant supply store for less than $2 a pop.