Last weekend we ran a pop up wine bar at a venue near us. We had a great weekend and really enjoyed meeting some of customers in real life! But now we have several bottles of open wine left and it got me to thinking – do we all know how long we can really keep wine for once it has been opened?
Most wines last open for only about 3–5 days before they start to go bad. Of course, this greatly depends on the type of wine!
Sparkling wines lose their carbonation quickly after opening. A traditional method sparkling wine, such as MCC or Champagne, will last a little longer than a tank method sparkling wine like Prosecco, as they have more atmospheres of pressure (more bubbles) in them when they’re bottled. We don’t think that Prosecco is very good after any more than one open at most.
Light White Wine, Sweet White Wine and Rosé Wine
Most light white and rosé wines will be drinkable for up to a week when stored in your fridge. As the wine starts to oxidise, you may notice the taste will change subtly. The overall fruit character of the wine will often diminish and become less vibrant.
Full-Bodied White Wine
A full-bodied white wine, like oaked Chardonnay or Viognier, tend to oxidise more quickly due to the pre-bottling aging process. Always keep them corked and in the fridge and drink within 3 -5 days. You could also look to use a vacuum cap on the bottle to slow oxidation.
The more tannin and acidity the red wine has, the longer it tends to last after opening. So, a light red with very little tannin, such as Pinot Noir, won’t last open as long as a rich red like Shiraz / Syrah. Did you know, that some wines will even improve after the first day open!
Store open red wines in a dark cool place after opening them. If you aren’t lucky enough to have a wine fridge, your normal fridge is better than letting the wine sit out in a 21°C room.
Did you think your open bottle of Port will last forever? We’re afraid it won’t but Fortified Wines like Port, Sherry, and Marsala do have very long shelf lives and this is because of the addition of brandy.
However, keep these wines away from light and heat as it will cause them to lose their vibrant flavours more quickly. The only wines which will keep forever when open are Madeira and Marsala–they’re already oxidized and cooked! The sweeter the dessert wine, the longer it will last open. These wines are also best stored in the fridge.
How to Store Wine
If you are lucky, you may have a perfect wine wine cellar where you can keep your wine at around 13 ºC and 75% humidity – all year round. But most of us keep our wine on a rack or in a cupboard in our kitchen. There’s no harm in that but here are some top tips to keep your wines nicely and without ruining:
- If you don’t have a wine fridge, store open bottles in your normal kitchen fridge.
- Plan to drink through your cellar within a year or so of purchase – unless you know it is a very special wine that can be kept for longer!
- Chill your reds for 15 minutes in the fridge before opening them.
- Chill whites and sparkling wines in the freezer for 30 minutes before opening.
- Store wines with corks, laying down. If the wine is upright, the liquid can’t stay in constant contact with the cork, which allows the seal on the bottle to loosen, and more oxygen to seep in and spoil the wine. Keeping the wine in constant contact with the cork maintains the seal and protects the wine.
- Screw cap wines, in contrast, do not let any air into the bottle. The upside is both white and red wines are kept far fresher, almost the same as when first bottled by the winemaker and they do not need to be stored laying down!
(Although some aficionado’s still recommend laying them down, if keeping them for more than a year.)
- Don’t place your wine (in a rack or otherwise) near a heat or light source – such as a radiator or near your hob / oven – it may look great but they will get too warm!