“How long will my wine stay fresh after opening?” This is one of your most frequently asked questions. The answer is not so straightforward – how long your wine will last depends on how you store the bottle, what stopper you use, but also on the type of wine. Let’s break it down.
The Basics: Slowing Oxidation
Have you ever had a glass of wine that tasted flat, like its fruit flavours were muted or completely gone? Chances are, the bottle was opened a few days before and has gone off. Oxygen is a wine’s biggest enemy (closely followed by light and heat), and once the bottle is uncorked, slowing oxidation is key to enjoying your leftover wine a little longer.
(Tip: At a restaurant or bar, there’s no shame in asking when the bottle was opened!)
Store Opened Bottles in the Fridge
Plug the cork or stopper back in the bottle and store it upright in the refrigerator. Yes, that applies to red wines as well. The cold will slow down chemical processes, including oxidation. Take the bottle of red wine out of the fridge about 1 hour before you intend to drink it again.
Pour Leftover Wine Into Smaller Bottles
The more wine you pour out of the bottle, the higher the oxygen to wine ratio for the remaining liquid (meaning oxidation will occur faster). Pouring leftover wine into half bottles (375 ml) with a stopper is a good trick to reduce the amount of oxygen left in the bottle.
Use a Vacuum Pump
A great way to keep your wines fresh a little longer, is investing in a small vacuum pump, also known as a ‘wine saver’. It’s a simple tool that sucks the air out of the bottle, with a rubber stopper that creates an airtight seal. With such a tool, you will extend the lifespan of your wine by a few days. Newer technologies insert a layer of argon gas which reseals your wine to keep it fresher for even longer. The Coravin allows you to taste a single glass – and keep the rest for further ageing.
Does the Type of Wine Matter?
Whether a wine is light-bodied, medium-bodied or full-bodied will play a role in how long it’ll stay drinkable. Tannins matter, too. A white wine with a low alcohol content will not remain drinkable as long as a red wine with a higher alcohol content and tannins. Fortified wines (with a higher alcohol content) can stay open for around 28 days when kept in a cool, dark place. Wines with residual sweetness tend to also last longer than dry wines, as the sugar works as a natural preservative.
How to Store Sparkling Wine after Opening
Just stick a teaspoon in the bottle, handle down, and this’ll keep your wine bubbly for days, right? Uhm, no. For some reason, this myth persists rather stubbornly, but it does not work. The only way to keep sparkling wine bubbly for longer is to stick it in the fridge. Carbon dioxide is more soluble in wine at a lower temperature. A sparkling wine stopper seals heavy sparkling wine bottles and keeps pressure inside – but unfortunately it won’t really keep the wine fresh for long – at most until the day after opening.
Is it Safe to Drink Wines that Have Gone Bad?
Wine that is oxidized has an unpleasant taste, but is not dangerous to consume. But please, if you don’t like it, don’t drink it. Life’s too short to drink bad wine!
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