How long does wine last once the bottle is opened?

We’ve all been there.

You opened a nice wine last week, but didn’t finish the bottle. Now some good friends have dropped in, and you suddenly panic over whether the wine is still suitable to serve after being open for so many days? Well, keep reading and we will tell you everything you need to know.

The most important thing to know straight away is there is no straight answer (but then you were expecting that, weren’t you!). Lot of factors come into play when talking about how long wine will last.

  • is it red, white or fortified wine?
  • is it a bubbly variety?
  • is it a young or very old vintage?
  • has the bottle been left open or sealed?
  • what temperature has the wine been kept in since being opened?

Each of these factors influence how well the wine will keep and how long you can keep it before tipping it down the sink. And while that might sound like bad news there are of course some simple guidelines you can follow as a guide. But keep in mind that a guide is all it is. The final decision on the outcome of that wine will rest upon that all important taste test. If after a few days you find it to still be enjoyable and feel that it has not suffered any serious deterioration, then you might serve it to your friends with confidence.

As a guide, we generally find that the following stands true for us:

  • Sparkling/bubbly wine is meant to be kept and served cold, and enjoyed while those bubbles are obvious when pouring and tasting. However, once that cork has been popped, time is against you – once exposed to the air it WILL start to go downhill fast! You may find that after a day in the fridge you can begin to taste and see a difference, even with it being kept tightly capped. Others may last a few days and still be drinkable. On one occasion we found a bottle was still nice after five days, but this would be rare.
  • Lighter white wine (including sweet and Rose varieties) will last a little longer, providing it has been kept tightly sealed and refrigerated, and might still be suitable for up to a week. Again there are exceptions and we have enjoyed the odd Moscato that was not over-bubbly beyond that time frame. Because of the deterioration process, it really does need to be tasted before serving, but a chilled glass with a meal might still be fine many days later.
  • Full-bodied white wine is often the subject of debate as many think that being a ‘better-quality’ wine it will last longer than its lighter cousins. We have generally found that to be inaccurate and prefer to drink our good Chardonnay within the first three days. After that time we find they start to deteriorate too quickly. Depending who you speak to you may find people from both camps, so be prepared to listen to the different arguments for and against, but then make up your own mind when you taste it.
  • Red wine is considered by us to be in the same category as full-bodied whites: three days is our golden rule that we like to stick with as much as possible. It can last five to seven days on occasions but why would you open a nice bottle of red, only to leave it sitting on the shelf or in the fridge anyway? Fine wine is to be enjoyed and if you (or you and a partner) cannot consume that single bottle within three days you might be better off sticking with beer or some other beverage! Seriously though, if you are opening a good bottle of red wine which has been aging in the cellar for a few years, you do not want it to start that deterioration process before it can be enjoyed at its best. Just consider what a waste it would have been to bring that wine to a point of perfection, only for you to let it decay for a week before deciding it tastes funny. Some like to keep their opened red wines in the fridge (obviously recapped), taking it out 30 minutes before serving, while others in cooler climates find a dark cupboard works just fine for them.
  • Fortified wine is a tricky subject (but then so is all wine really!). Generally speaking a good fortified wine can be kept for several week, up to several years if kept under IDEAL conditions. However, once that bottle is opened and exposed to light, heat, and oxygen, the timer is on and it may not taste as nice in a fortnight as it does today. Kept in a dark, cool place, it might taste as nice in six months as it does upon opening. Of all the wines, we find that the length of time you can keep a fortified wine varies the greatest. Some are content to fill their wine barrel and drink from it for years, while others will treat that aged bottle like one of their children and look after it like there is nothing more important in life. 

We hope that gives you some assurance about how long to keep your open wines. Once again we stress that there are no exact rules as your house and climate will be different to ours. Your method of keeping unopened and opened bottle of wine will differ as well. So in the end it will always come down to personal preference and taste. However, we wish you well on your great journey of discovery. 

Living each adventure, 
Christine and Trevor
Online Fashion Store

Empowering people to live a healthy, active, authentic and fulfilling life.
Adelaide, South Australia.
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Wine Review: Mt Benson 2015 Anarchist Shiraz

DISCLAIMER: This article is written for informational purposes only and is based on Christine and Trevor’s own life experiences. No food or wine featured on this site should ever be consumed or handled if known or suspected allergies exist. Nothing featured here should be taken as medical, professional or legal advice. It is always recommended that you consult the appropriate professional before changing any routine or adopting any new procedure.

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How long does wine last once the bottle is opened?

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