How long can you keep a bottle of wine after opening?

Have you ever been staring down a bottle of wine, unsure if you should open it or not? You may be the only one enjoying it tonight and could not possibly drink an entire bottle yourself? However, if you open it, you will feel forced to drink it within a certain amount of time; otherwise, it will go to waste! You decide to take the risk and open that bottle because you deserve a glass (or three)!

Now you are left with a half full bottle. You re-insert the original cork and wonder, "how long do I have until this wine completely spoils? One day, a week, a month, longer? Well, the truth is, the answer to that depends on the type of wine you open and where and how you plan to store it.

How long can you keep Champagne after opening?

An open bottle of sparkling wine will last only for a few hours as it will simply go flat. This is because the carbonation in sparkling wines, such as Champagne and Prosecco, begins to diminish fairly quickly once they are opened. Therefore, it is vital to make sure you use a sparkling wine stopper if you wish to save a bottle of wine — even then, the wine will only last a few days in the fridge before it becomes flat.

Another option for sparkling wine is to invest in a wine preservation tool. This sparkling wine preservation system from Coravin can keep your sparkling wines and Champagne fresh, crisp, and effervescent for up to two weeks. This system consists of a Coravin CO2 charger and stopper that will keep your sparkling wines and Champagne fresh for up to two weeks.

If you don't have a Coravin, just don't open a bottle of Sparkling wine if you're not planning on finishing it that day, unless you like flat, quite dull white wine!

How long can you keep dessert wine after opening?

Some sweet wines, such as dessert wines, have a shelf life of two to three weeks after opening. It is generally believed that dessert wines have a shelf life of at least two to three weeks after opening because of their large sugar content. With their more significant sugar level, dessert wines will often last several weeks after they are opened, depending on the grapes used in their production and the methods used during their creation. Sherry and Port, classed below as fortified wines even if sweet, can last for months after opening. 

These wines will keep longer if kept cool in a regular fridge or a wine fridge set at a low temperature.

How long can you keep white wine after opening?

The average life expectancy of opened white wine is approximately two days under proper storage conditions when it is opened. However, due to their extreme sensitivity to temperature, light, oxygen, and a wide variety of other factors, white wines will degrade fairly rapidly after opening. Therefore, when you open a white wine, you should drink it as soon as possible because it is highly sensitive to changes after it has been opened unless you are decanting the wine because its a bit reductive and could do with an hour to blow off those aromas.

How long can you keep red wine after opening?

As long as you store red wines in a cool place and keep them out of direct sunlight, you can enjoy them up for up to two day after they are opened and they may even evolve or improve. However, as time goes on, the acids and tannins that make up the structure and body of red wines will break down. The lighter-bodied reds, however, such as Beaujolais and some Pinot Noir wines, will lose their structure much more quickly than the big and bold Cabernet Sauvignons. Due to their rapid flattening, these are best consumed within two days of opening and I'm sure we've all experience some reds that are undrinkable the next day Vs others that seem to have improved, in reality it will depend on the grape and production but we're yet to see one improve over 72 hours.

How long can you keep fortified wine after opening?

A wine fortified with grape spirits has a longer shelf life once it has been opened than other types of wine and can last as long as 28 days if the right conditions are met. Like dessert wines, this wine should be stored in a cool, dark place and corked to prevent oxidation.

How long can you keep boxed wine after opening?

You can generally store an open box of wine for two to three weeks, which is much longer than some bottled wines. After that, you should choose to store opened wine boxes in your refrigerator. You will be able to extend their life in addition to slowing down the fading process of wine and giving nutty and oxidized notes by placing the box in the fridge. However, unlike wine in regular bottles, we're yet to witness a boxed wine get better over time, or get better in the decanter, these wines are meant to be drunk young and fresh (if you must!).

How to Extend an Open Bottles Life

If you are someone with a habit of opening a bottle of wine that you KNOW you aren't going to finish the same night, learning the following steps can help you expand the life of your open wine. If you do this frequently with expensive wines, forget all these tips and buy a Coravin, this will allow you to enjoy your favourite bottles for years under cork!

Step #1: Put a cork in it! Your open bottle of wine will last longer if you put a cork in it right after pouring the first round. The less oxygen that makes its way into the bottle, the better!

Step #2: Once you have decided that you have had enough for the night. Vacuum the air out with a wine bottle pump. This can help drastically reduce the amount of oxygen left in your wine bottle when you are ready to store it.

Step #3: Keep it chilled! It is best to store any wine you are trying to preserve in a cold cellar, fridge or, even better, a wine fridge. This is because cold temperatures slow down wine's aging and spoiling process. Check out our selection of high-quality wine fridges so you can uphold the quality of your open bottles for as long as possible.

Bonus Tip: Sometimes, pouring your leftover wine into an airtight glass jar, such as a mason jar, is even better. A cork pushed back into a wine bottle will never have as tight of a seal as it once did. However, an airtight jar (especially one full of wine) is a great way to keep oxidation at a minimum.

How to Tell if Your Wine is Spoiled

A significant way wine can go sour after opening is from acetic acid bacteria. The bacteria will consume the alcohol in wine and metabolise it into acetic acid and acetaldehyde. Once the reaction occurs, it causes the wine to smell sharp. Moreover, oxidation causes a nutty, bruised fruit taste that robs the wine of its fresh, fruity flavors. This is also a chemical reaction, so the lower the temperature, the slower it will happen.

Often the appearance of your wine can be an indication of microbial activity within it. For example, some wines tend to be cloudy, to begin with, but if they start clear and then go cloudy, this could be a sign that the wine has gone sour.

TL;DR

Sometimes you want a glass of wine but have no one to share the bottle with. The decision to drink it is tough because you know that once it is opened, you will have a limited amount of time to drink it before it spoils. We say, go for it and if this is a frequent first world problem for you then it really is time for a Coravin! There are a variety of methods and precautions that you can take to estimate the amount of time your wine will last as well as how to expand its open shelf-life if you don't want to spend the money on a Coravin.

Sarah newton

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Author - Sarah Newton

Sarah Newton has worked in the wine industry for two decades holding senior positions at some of the UK wine industry's leading brands. The MD of Coolersomm, Sarah is WSET certified and our lead wine buyer too.