When people ask me how long opened wine lasts, I ask them how quickly they can drink. In all seriousness, it’s helpful to know how best to preserve an opened bottle of wine and how long it will last. So that’s what we’ll explore today. Thank you to La Crema and Wine Folly for their help with this article.
Why Opened Wine Can Go Bad
Wines stored after opening can go bad in two ways. First, acetic acid bacteria can consume the alcohol in wine and metabolize it into acetic acid and acetaldehyde. The end result: Your wine tastes like vinegar. Second, the alcohol can oxidize, causing the fruity aromas to disappear, the wine to taste dull, and the color to change. White wines turn brownish, while reds get lighter and browner.
How Best to Preserve an Opened Bottle
Re-cork the wine after every glass poured, ideally using the cork that came with the bottle. When you’re done drinking, store the opened wine (both white and red) upright in your refrigerator. The colder temperature slows down the oxidation, and the upright position minimizes the surface area exposed to oxygen.
For even better results, decant your wine into small containers (ideally a 375 ml bottle, but any small containers will do). This greatly reduces the exposure to oxygen and can just about double the shelf life of your wine. Remember to put the smaller containers in the refrigerator.
If you’ve stored an opened red wine in the fridge, pull it out 30 minutes before drinking it to warm it up.
Does the Type of Wine Make a Difference
The short answer is yes. The lighter the wine, the faster it goes bad. Pinot Noir is one of the hardest wines to preserve. Tannins, alcohol and sugar are your friends when it comes to storing opened wine. This means that robust reds and fortified wines will last longest. Richly sweet dessert wines will also stay fresh longer than dry wines. Fortified wines will be good for up to a month after opening, but most table wines will last only about three to five days before spoiling. Don’t worry, old wine won’t hurt you, it’s just not as yummy! La Crema’s infographic is very helpful here.
Can Gadgets Help?
There are a lot of gadgets claiming to preserve wine, ranging from plastic vacuum pumps to spray cans of nonreactive gas. With one exception, it’s questionable how well any of these gadgets work. The one exception is the Coravin, a device that lets you extract wine with a needle, without needing to actually open the bottle. You can extract glasses of wine over a period of months from, with no notable difference in freshness.
If you have any best practices for storing opened wine that I didn’t cover, please share those with us here. Thanks.
As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!
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