I hate to break a few hearts out there, but wine does have a shelf life once opened. Oxygen is the enemy of wine and once that precious bottle is opened, air is going to seep into it at every opportunity and attack the living day lights out of that lovely wine. Even if you screw that lid or cork back on super tightly, it’s been exposed!
The wine will literally die, the aromas will fade, the flavours will go flat and it may go pretty sour and acidic, a lot like vinegar.
There have been a few occasions where I have been over at a friend’s house and then they pull out a bottle of wine they opened ‘a little while ago’ and when I ask how long a go that was, I’m usually told that it was ‘only 2 or 3 weeks/months a go’. As my face and jaw drop, I politely take the bottle from my host and pour it down the sink. Honestly it’s the best place for it, (or there are a few tricks at the bottom of this post if you really don’t have the heart to do that).
If you ever find yourself sipping on a 3 month old bottle of Chateau Vine-Gar, then this post is for you! Keep on reading…
How long is a wine good for once I open it?
Like all good things, there’s no straight answer.
But typically I go by the rule for whites, roses and reds that they will only keep for 2-3 days maximum once opened.
Red wine can be very temperamental. Pinot Noir is super sensitive to oxygen. Aged red wines will also have a low tolerance to oxygen and light coloured red wines & organic/sulphite-free red wine will also die off quicker than other red wines. I feel like I may be promoting drinking opened bottles of wine ASAP in this post (don’t hate me!).
For Champagne and bubbles these can die very quickly due to the carbonation being released from the bottle as soon as that cork is popped. Therefore it’s best to drink the whole darn bottle in one foul swoop. What a bugger hey :)
I have on quite a few occasions kept some over night and popped on a Champagne stopper, which is a pretty good solution. It’s not the same the next day but it is still drinkable.
That’ll teach me for getting overly excited on a Saturday night and opening one too many Champagne bottles. I honestly think I just have an addiction to using my champagne sabre!
For fortified wines like port and sherry, these last a lot longer once opened due to the higher alcohol and sugar content which work as preservatives. I would definitely store these in the fridge to help preserve them once opened.
A sherry is probably best to keep for a maximum of one week whilst a port can do a bit longer, about 2-4 weeks once opened. This category varies a lot due to the different types of fortified wines out there however I do find that quite a few ports will mention on the back label what their shelf life is roughly once opened. Plus you can always get in touch with the producer via twitter or online and get the answer straight from the winemaker’s fingertips.
Are there any tips to help preserve my wine longer?
Yes there are a few wine accessories out there on the market to help preserve the wine. There is a wide range of stoppers and also devices to remove the unwanted oxygen from the bottle once opened.
I haven’t used these oxygen sucking vacuum pumps for wine before, so I can’t really say how good they are. Wine Folly does mention about the Vacuum Pump Controversy here.
I like to use decent tight wine stoppers which latch onto the sides of the bottle, the ones shown below are very good for sparkling wines.
Some quick tips to help keep opened wine longer:
- Keep it refrigerated, the coolness will slow down the chemical process.
- Re-cork it with its original cork or a super tight bottle stopper after pouring every glass.
- Store it upright so the amount of surface area exposed to oxygen is kept to a minimum.
What should I do with leftover ‘off’ wine?
It’s very rare that there’s leftover wine in my house. However on the odd occasion when there is I simply pop the bottle in the fridge and use it for cooking. I love popping some red in my spaghetti Bolognese sauce or in a stew, and white wine can be great for fish and chicken dishes! All foods are made better with wine right?
Check out some of my recipes using wine here.