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How Long is Wine Good for Once its Opened?

Say you’re hosting a dinner party and want to serve a certain wine with each course. Or perhaps you’ve got friends coming over and there’s a mixed bag of red, white and rosé drinkers. Or – the most common scenario – you want a glass of wine at the end of the day but don’t want to (and probably shouldn’t) polish off a whole bottle on your own. In any case, you’re going to end up with opened wines that you don’t want to go to waste. But how long will they keep? Are they destined for the drain? Or can you pop a cork in the bottle and save it for tomorrow? What about the next day? Or next week?

Here is a guideline on how long wines are likely to last once opened, as well as some tips on keeping them fresh:

  • Eventually, all wine goes off if exposed to air. Depending on the wine – the style of wine, how it was made and the conditions under which is is stored – it will last anywhere between a couple of days and a week, if stored properly. If left open, it will oxidise quickly (certainly overnight), so make sure to close it up as quickly as you can remember to!
  • The first thing you should do once you know you’re done drinking a wine is put the cork back in it or screw cap back on it. Even better, put in a secure stopper; this will keep oxygen and light out.
  • In addition to oxygen and light, heat will turn a wine sour. To prevent this, put your wine in the fridge after re-corking, particularly if it’s summertime.
  • Red wine can last as long as a week if stored straight away and in the fridge. The more tannins the wine has, the more likely it will last. A week is the extreme end, though – my red wines usually don’t last longer than 4 or 5 days.
  • White wines can also last a while, around the 5 day mark at the most, as they don’t have tannins to help them out. More often, white wines turn around the 3 day mark.
  • When testing whether a wine is off or not, your nose knows best – if it has lost all of its aroma it will be too flat; if it smells like vinegar, it’s certainly a no go.
  • In addition to smell, you can see if a wine has oxidised – it will have a rusty, brown colour to it.
  • It’s worth noting that natural wines are less stable than others, so these are more prone to turning quickly – something to keep in mind if you know it won’t be consumed in one go.
  • Sparkling will last one, maybe two days if sealed really well, but these wines of course are what they are because of their bubbles – if there is no fizz, give it a pass.

It’s a good idea to save up a few corks so you always have something on hand to close off an unfinished bottle of wine

So what if your wine is off?

  • They say you shouldn’t cook with anything you wouldn’t drink, and that’s true… for the most part
  • My rule of thumb is its not quite drinkable anymore – has lost its expression, aroma and body, I still cook with it.
  • If the wine smells a bit more acidic than normal, but not quite like vinegar, I still keep it and use it to deglaze the pan in cooking, but not for anything more (i.e. definitely not for coq au vin or boeuf bourguignon, which call for larger amounts of wine and thus must be of really good quality).
  • If the wine is really oxidised and hitting the nose as vinegar, it is unfortunately good for nothing but the drain!

If you know you are only going to have one glass of a wine, consider which bottle you want to open – for example, natural wines tend to be less stable, and less likely to keep fresh after one day.

If you want to know more about storing and serving vino, here’s our guide on what temperature is best for different wines. If you find yourself drinking wine one glass at a time, you might also want to check out what we have to say about goon bags.

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James Lee Tucker
6 years ago

I never knew that it is best to keep wines in the fridge after opening it. All along, I thought it’s fine to leave the wine on the bar counter or tabletop as long it’s tightly capped. My apartment gets pretty warm during summer, and it’s good you pointed out that heat can affect the wine’s taste. I recently received some wines as a gift and be sure to remember to keep them in the fridge after opening. Now, I’m planning to buy some fancy wine stopper.

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