Opening a new bottle of wine always involves a little bit of mental math: Will you be left with a fraction of a bottle? And, if so, how long will you have, before its flavor turns to vinegar? Fortunately, there's a solution, and it's hidden in the periodic table.

After reading about the strange phenomenon of "flavor scalping" that inflicts itself upon the (otherwise blessed) drinkers of boxed wine, a Kinja discussion kicked off about the short shelf life of an opened bottle. Including this chemistry tip utilized by winemakers:


Most modern wine maker use an inert gas such as nitrogen during bottling to displace the oxygen in the bottle. Pure nitrogen is heavy in enough to sink in the atmosphere so they just flood the the bottles with the gas right, displacing the lighter oxygen, before they cork. You are left with an ideal non-reactive container but not oxygen.

Indeed they do! But it's not just winemakers who use the trick. There are also a number of at home sprays or bottle openers that you can use to replicate the stunt at home, using both nitrogen and argon. It turns out, however, that the different kinds of wine respond best to different kinds of inert gases. Iowa State University's Extension Enologist Murli Dharmadhikari notes that while red wine is best kept fresh with nitrogen, the more delicate flavors of white wines might be a bit stripped. A mix of nitrogen with a heavier percentage of carbon dioxide, however, should keep the wine both crisp and fresh.

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