How long does the opening of the wine last?

Internet memes may tell you “there’s no such thing as leftover wine.” – a drinking joke that ignores the fact that very often in daily life we ​​may not finish an open bottle. If we have any leftovers, conventional wisdom is that time passes, as wine is best on the day it is opened, or should be consumed by the next day at the latest. This is frustrating, however, if you don’t want to drink that open wine the next day or don’t get the chance, especially when the leftovers are of great quality. And pouring the “old” wine seems like a waste. Many of us will ask under these circumstances, But how bad can it be? Understanding how long an open bottle of wine lasts is the key to getting the most out of every last drop, before it turns into vinegar.

The process that begins when a bottle of wine is opened is called aeration, which leads to oxidation, which “increases the color change and the loss of fruity characteristics,” according to Professor Gavin Sacks, Professor of Oenology and Viticulture at the Department. of Food Sciences at Cornell University. It also “leads to the loss of sulfur dioxide, which preserves the wine,” he says, and dissipates the aromas. Even if you put the cork or a wine cork back on, the process continues, as no closure is airtight and oxygen has already been introduced.

What is oxidation?

The great news is that while it doesn’t do well in large doses, in small amounts, oxidation can be welcome, or even beneficial, to a bottle of wine. It occurs naturally inside the barrel and bottle as the wine ages. Sometimes if a good wine hasn’t aged enough (which means it still has an overly tannic and astringent flavor), experts will praise it or let it air for a few hours. This helps optimize the flavor by making it softer and can also allow unwanted aromas to be dissipated. Rotating the glass may seem flashy, but it’s also a practical way to aerate. These are positive examples of how to allow a wine to “open” or “breathe”. And even with a few medium-quality bottles, wine nerds will open and taste them over the course of a few days, to see how the flavor changes over time.

Therefore, if you can control the oxidation, you can sometimes drink a bottle of wine for up to a week after opening, depending on a number of factors such as the filling level of the bottle, exposure to light, the temperature. to which was the wine. stored, and what kind of wine it was in the first place.

The following can help you evaluate how long an open bottle may still be drinkable. For our purposes, we’re assuming you don’t have fancy wine storage gadgets, like a Coravin, and you want your wine to taste not just good enoughbut still very good.

How much air did it take?

The trick to making a wine last is to avoid exposure to air. A bottle that was left open overnight or decanted got much more air than one that was opened and capped immediately. A capped bottle that is nearly full contains much less air than a capped bottle that is nearly empty. An open bottle placed on its side in the refrigerator creates a much larger surface area for exposure to air. A bottle whose cap has been lost is better covered with foil or plastic wrap than left open. There is no hard and fast rule, but the more you can minimize exposure to air, the longer the wine will taste great.

Where has it been stored?

Heat accelerates oxidation in wine and colder temperatures slow it down. Both reds and whites should ideally be refrigerated, according to Professor Sacks. Light is also a factor. UV rays, which travel easily through both clear and green bottles, cause a process of releasing sulfur which affects the wine’s scent, an important factor in taste. (Consumer tip: You may not want to buy the wines displayed near the large front windows of your favorite wine shop, especially those in clear bottles.) Again, the refrigerator is the answer. It’s dark in there when you don’t have the door open. If you’re worried about drinking your too cold reds, you can do as Professor Sacks suggests: he pours a glass and puts it in the microwave for five seconds.

What is the aromatic profile of the wine?

More tannic or acidic wines tend to last longer, as acids and tannins can often use some softening before they taste better. Any wine can be sour – if it tastes a little bit fizzy, spicy, or spicy, that’s how you know it. The tannins come from the grape skins during the winemaking process, as does the color, so you’ll find them mostly in red and to a lesser extent in rosé and orange wines – they’re what gives you that chalky flavor in your mouth. If a wine tastes too acidic or tannic for you, there is a strong possibility that you will enjoy it much more the next day, as oxidation works to beneficially tame those characteristics.

In general, natural and organic wines tend to have more acidity and tannins and less perceived sweetness, so they can also be longer lasting than their mass-produced counterparts. From the opposite perspective, fruit flavors fade first, so wines that are perceived as sweet and fruity on the first day will often lose their magic on the second day. And wines aged on lees (ie dead yeast originally added live to start the fermentation process), have a creamy and delicious mouthfeel, but start out quite “flat” and age less well.

Has the wine aged in oak?

The wine that has been aged in oak barrels has a vanilla aroma and a pleasant softness on the palate. Oak can be good because it balances big, bold, jam, fruity flavors and higher alcohol levels. But unfortunately, since the fruit notes in a wine are the first to disappear, oak wine can quickly taste like oak water.

What grape is it?

Some grapes, especially Pinot Noir, are known for not being as robust. Pinot Noir, the main grape of the Burgundy reds, is called the “heartbreaker wine” because it is so fickle that sometimes even the bottles of legendary producers are missing upon arrival and there can be a wide difference in quality within the same. case of wine. Other wines made from lighter red grapes can also potentially degrade faster. Professor Sacks added that Sauvignon Blanc wines are some of the “most easily oxidized”.

Conversely, the more tannic grapes tend to produce the most robust wines, such as some Cabernet Sauvignons from California and Bordeaux, some Brunellos from Tuscany, which are made from Sangiovese, some Barolos from Piedmont, which are made from Nebbiolo, and some Syrahs. And if it all sounds delicious now, try them on the third day.

So how long does an open bottle of wine last?

Well, the short answer is that it really depends on the type of wine. The above tips can help you identify the elements of your wine to infer how long you might be drinking it before it spoils. Speaking in general, an opened bottle of wine can last from 3 to 5 daysalthough the timeline varies as you become more specific with the bottle in question.

Sparkling wines can keep their flavor and fizz for up to 4 days in the refrigerator when closed with a sparkling wine stopper (they’re easy to find and inexpensive, so get one if you’re a fan of bubbles!). In the refrigerator, white wine can stay flavorful for up to 5 days if stored with a cork or wine stopper. What about red? lighter ones can have an unpleasant taste after a few days, while hearty red wines can last for a few weeks in the refrigerator and fortified wines like port can last for months. Extra points if you pour the wine into a smaller bottle to limit exposure to oxygen – professional advice: a carefully rinsed glass Snapple bottle works great for this.

Wondering what to do with that wine you will never drink but don’t want to pour down the drain? Fill an ice cube tray with leftover wine, freeze and use the wine ice cubes to cook! A couple of cubes can be used to deglaze a skillet when browning a steak, add depth and richness to a soup or stew, or amplify potted tomato sauce.


What are your best wine tips? Let us know in the comments.


This article was updated in May 2022 by our editors because we always have a bottle or two of wine open in our refrigerator.

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