How long does wine last open?

Wine Guru Answers:

How long does wine last open? What makes wine go bad after it is opened? If I drink wine that has been opened too long, will it make me sick?

Well, this is one of those “it depends” answers!

It depends on:

  • Who opened the wine?

 (if it was me, it doesn’t last for long…)

  • Is the wine white, pink, red, or sparkling?

Assuming it was not me who opened the wine, we can skip right to the next set of questions.

Wine starts changing as soon as it meets air. Have you heard the term “letting a wine breathe?” Do you wonder why you are supposed to swirl wine in your glass before smelling and sipping? Air coming in contact with wine is initially a good thing. The more intensely we can smell, the more intensely we can taste. Getting air to the wine through decanting it or swirling it in your glass increases the surface area of wine to oxygen. Most wines will benefit from this form of aeration and will improve over 30 minutes.

So, you open a bottle, you have a couple of glasses and you want to know how long you can keep the other half of that bottle and still enjoy the wine.

If you do nothing but recork and sit on the counter, no more than 3 days.

A rule of thumb for styles and weights of wine:

  • Sparkling Wine: 1-3 days in the fridge with a sparkling wine stopper
  • Light White and Rose’ Wine: 5-7 days in the fridge with a cork
  • Full-Bodied White Wine: 3-5 days in fridge with a cork
  • Red Wine: 3-5 days in a cool dark place with a cork (longer in fridge)
  • Fortified Wine: 28 days in a cool dark place with a cork
  • Bag-in-a-Box Wine-28 days in the fridge

There are lots of tools for addressing this problem. We can discuss wine gadgets in another blog posts, but for today I will give you some Wine Guru hacks that are inexpensive and easy!

Keep your wine chilled.

Refrigerator temperatures are not meant for long term aging, however, if you plan on opening a bottle that you don’t plan to finish that night, put it in the fridge after opening. Yes, even red wine! If the wine is chilled, the molecules will not oxidize as quickly.

Store the wine upright to minimize the surface area exposed to oxygen or transfer the wine from the bottle into smaller glass containers. You can buy wines in 187 and 375 formats with screwcap closures. After enjoying the wine, wash the bottles and keep them around to transfer your leftover wine from larger formats.

I use ball jars personally. You can buy them in 4oz, 8, oz, and 12 oz sizes. They seal tightly and are perfect for storing the fridge.

If all fails and you find yourself drinking a wine that has likely been exposed to air too long, you may not enjoy it, but it won’t hurt you. Wine that oxidizes is basically, vinegar.

There are those who would tell you to cook with it, but I am in the “only cook with wine you would drink” camp. Other mantras of this camp? Life is too short to drink bad wine. Sometimes you need to dump it and open another bottle.

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