Most of us store our unopened wine in a wine rack at room temperature. Hopefully your room temperature isn't as warm as my second floor apartment, but we do the best we can, right? So wherever the coolest darkest spot is in your personal domain is where you should store wine. But after we've opened our bottle of choice, how long is that opened wine good for? That depends a little on the type of wine and the fermentation process used to make it, though you can salvage many wines from boxed wine to fine wine without much trouble.
If you haven't finished the bottle, or you passed out before you had the chance, what is the best way to get a few more days out of your leftover merlot or pinot grigio?
Just remember: air is the enemy. Well, actually let me rephrase that. It's more like a "Frenemy." Air is needed to open up the flavors and aromas that have been trapped in the bottle, but too much air exposure is when the acidity, tannins, and fruit starts breaking down. Kind like how we break down on a Wednesday night when we realize we still have to get up for work the next day. This love/hate exposure to air is called oxidation. Exposure to air creates more acetic acid, leading to that signature vinegar-like taste in old wine, which is something we all want to avoid.
How Long Does an Open Bottle of Wine Last?
Unlike milk, there's no expiration date on wine. Whether opened bottle or
unopened wine, there really is no exact science to know when last night's good wine will turn into bad wine.
Coravin Model Two - Wine Preservation System
Restaurants and wine salespeople use a few different systems for keeping their by-the-glass bottles tasting good. There's the Coravin which is actually a needle that extracts wine through the cork leaving it technically unopened, but more commonly, they use a vacuum pump bottle stopper. It sucks the air out the bottle before sealing it. Remember, air is the enemy as far as wine storage goes.
The Shelf Life of Different Types of Wine
Wine is subjective. Whether a wine tastes good after it's been opened for a while is totally up to you, but here are a few suggestions on how to get a longer shelf life from your leftover wine.
Dry reds will last 3 to 5 days before they start to taste and smell vinegary. First step is to store the leftovers in a cool place away from sunlight. Go ahead and keep that bottle in the fridge if your home's ambient temp is on the warm side. Remember, the term "room temperature" is actually referring to "castle temperature." When humanity lived in stone castles with no insulation, 55 to 60 degrees F was a good temp for people and red wines.
Very full-bodied wines like Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz or Syrah will open up after a day but then the molecular structure of these wines starts to break down. Think about it like molecules all huddled together tightly inside the bottle. After the bottle is opened, the flavor molecules start breathing the air and become who the winemaker intended them to be, but too much air is when the flavor goes south. Lighter reds, like Pinot Noir and semi-dry red blends, will last about two days.
Rosé and Light Whites
Store your favorite New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or French Rosé wine in the refrigerator after guzzling for about 5 to 7 days. They will start to taste a little flat after day three, but the flavor will still be there. You could work your way through the bottle by relegating them to the cooking wine category and adding a splash to chicken or shrimp. But let's keep drinking, shall we? Make a glass of white sangria or a spritzer instead.
Full-Body White Wine
You want to finish that bottle of buttery Chardonnay within 2 to 3 days. Rich white blends like Conundrum or French Rhone blends have some air exposure during their aging process in the oak barrel or the steel tank, so they don't really handle much more too well. A big white is a good candidate for vacuum sealers. They're effective and fun to use.
Sparkling & Champagne
I actually like flat soda. My mother used to give it to me for bellyaches when I was little, but flat sparkling wine is just sadness in a glass.
Sparkling wine will go flat within a day and a half-tops. Sparklers are intended to be enjoyed while sparkling. Whether Prosecco or sweet Asti Spumante or Veuve Clicquot Champagne, invest a few bucks in a sparkling wine stopper to get an extra day from your bubbly's lifespan.
Fortified wines, like Ruby or Tawny Port and Sherry, make great dessert wines. And since they have a high sugar and alcohol content, they will hold up flavor wise for about a month, give or take a few days. Store them in the refrigerator to avoid premature spoilage, or create a makeshift wine cellar in the coolest most dark place in your home. Basically anywhere except a hot kitchen or on top of the warm refrigerator.
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