Have you ever wondered for how long – if at all – you can store open wine? Or if wines can go bad just within a few days? Let’s answer those questions once and for all – and consider some simple rules that will help you keep your wine fresh for longer after opening.
First of all - why does wine go bad?
Wines stored after opening go bad relatively quickly. As you open the bottle, oxygen and potentially bacteria can react with the wine. Therefore, after some time, most of the wines opened go bad in two ways:
Because of acetic acid bacteria – bacteria that are commonly known as vinegar bacteria, which consume alcohol (ethanol) and metabolize it into acetaldehyde and acetic acid. This process results in vinegary spoilage of wines, giving a vinegar-like smell;
Because of oxidization - wine's exposure to air causes chemical reactions that convert ethanol into acetaldehyde, changing wine taste and structure.
Processes mentioned above are chemical reactions – therefore retarding them, we can keep our open wine for longer. The fact is that the lower the temperature you keep a wine, the slower those reactions will happen. The most recommended and the easiest way to store an open wine is in a temperature-controlled wine fridge, which would help you maintain constant, perfect conditions. But if you do not have one, you can boldly use your kitchen fridge. To reduce oxygen exchange, always remember to close your wine with a special stopper or – if you don’t have one – original cork.
For how long can I store open wine?
The answer to this question differs depending on many factors, among others wine type and storing conditions. Here we introduce average time and conditions for given wine groups, which ensure a safe environment for storage.
3-5 days, closed with cork/wine stopper, in a cool and dark place (or eventually fridge).
Remember, the lighter the wine, the faster it goes bad. What helps preserve wines is tannin and alcohol – so when it comes to red wines, the more tannins and acidity it has, the longer it tends to last when opened. Interestingly, some wines can be even better the second day after opening. It is because of the exposure to oxygen, which can make a wine more harmonious and smooth.
3-7 days, closed with cork/wine stopper, in the fridge.
The time range here is wider because of the different methods of white winemaking. In general, light and sweet white wines tend to stay fresh longer (5-7 days) compared with full-bodied wines like Chardonnay, which had longer contact with oxygen during ageing and therefore usually oxidize quicker (in 3-5 days).
5-7 days, closed with cork/wine stopper, in the fridge.
You can notice some changes in wine fruity notes becoming less vibrant, but it is the normal process because of oxidization.
Sparkling wines: 1-3 days, closed with a special sparkling wine stopper, in the fridge.
The issue with sparkling wines is that they quickly lose the bubbles, but you can expect traditional method sparkling wines like Champagne to last longer than wines made with the tank method, like Prosecco.