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Wine Storage 101: How Long Can You Keep an Opened Bottle of Wine

A bottle of wine can last for years beyond its “Best By” date.  Once it’s opened, you’ll need to consume it within days. 

A red wine, white wine, or rose wine’s shelf life depends on a lot of factors, and that goes for both local and international wines. These include a label, preparation method, vintage, and storage.

There are wines that can be cellared for a long time, while others (especially those budget wines) are intended for consumption right after you purchase it while the beverage is still fresh and young in the bottle.

How long can you keep a bottle of wine? 

All food and drinks can only last for a specific period of time. Their shelf life can be shorter if they are not stored properly – So how long does an open bottle of wine last?

The answer depends on two main factors: type of wine and storage conditions. Generally, and for obvious reasons, unopened bottles of wine can last longer even when they are past their “best by” date. After all, wine is made to last for a long time, thanks to the fermentation process. This allows the alcohol to develop by adding yeast to break down sugar. This preserves the juice of the grapes, making it harder for bacteria to survive. As a result, spoilage is kept at bay. 

Here’s a table showing you how long you can keep different kinds of wine:

Unopened

Pantry (Past Printed Date)

White wine

1 to 2 years

Red wine

2 to 3 years

Rose wine

At least 2 years

Fine wine

Decades (in a wine cellar)

Opened

Refrigerator

White wine

3 to 5 days

Red wine

1 to 2 weeks

Rose wine

5 to 7 days

Sparkling wine

1 to 3 days

Fortified wine

28 days

Wine gift

28 days

Why do wines go bad? 

Of all the red wines, Pinot noir is believed to be one of the most sensitive, especially when exposed to air. Cabernet Sauvignons from Australia and California, Rhones, French Bordeaux, and other sturdy red wines are the ones that can be kept in a cellar for a really long time.

As for wine-in-a-box, they surprisingly last longer even after you’ve opened them because of their aseptic packaging.

There are two major reasons why wines that have been opened can go bad or become spoiled. 

First is when the alcohol is consumed by the acetic acid bacteria, metabolizing it into acetic acid and acetaldehyde. As a result, the wine will have a sharp, vinegary odor.

Second, the alcohol in the wine can oxidize over time, making it taste nutty, not fresh and fruity.

These are chemical reactions to heat. This means that to keep your bottles of wine from spoiling, you need to keep them in a cool, dry place.

Usually, you can tell if your wine has gone bad even before opening the bottle. For instance, a leaky cork is a telltale sign that the alcohol inside the bottle has been spoiled. Other signs include a change in the color of the liquid and the presence of a white settlement at the bottom. Wines that have gone bad will also have a rancid taste. 

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How do you store opened bottles of wine?

If you open a bottle of wine that good, or you are drinking with a bunch of friends, it would be impossible not to polish it off in a matter of minutes. But there may be times when you’re not in the mood to finish a whole bottle, whether with friends or by yourself. 

So what do you do with an opened bottle of wine? 

  1. Re-cork the wine after pouring some on a glass.
  2. Keep it out of light and under room temperature.
  3. Store in a refrigerator to keep it fresh further. This will slow down the chemical process of oxidation, making the wine go bad.
  4. Keep it in an upright position to prevent exposure to oxygen.
  5. Avoid drastic temperature changes to prevent the wine from spoiling.
  6. Don’t store by an open window. Sun exposure can damage wine.
  7. Don’t keep at temperatures above 70° F.
  8. Buy a wine preserving tool, such as a vacuum pump, inert gas preservation device, champagne stopper, and the like.
  9. Rebottle your wine if you don’t have a preserving tool. Wine bottles are designed to have a dark color to block out the sun. So if you’re going to re-bottle your wine, be sure to store them in a dark place.
  10. Place in a humid place to prevent the cork from drying out and shrinking, allowing air and bacteria to spoil the beverage.

A few final tips:

  • If you’ve found an opened bottle of wine, don’t throw it away just yet.
  • Check the expiry date or “drink before” or “best by” date first. If there’s none, check for the vintage year, which should be emblazoned on the label.
  • Give it a taste. It doesn’t have a rancid taste? Well and good. cheers. 
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