Have you ever opened a bottle of your favourite wine, yet failed to finish it in one sitting? With that, have you wondered how long you can get away with it being open for? Of course, in some cases, a bottle won’t last very long (we think we’re on the same wavelength here wine lovers). But in some situations, a bottle simply cannot be finished, with the hope that it will remain for future consumption.
As we know, wine, if stored correctly, will age well. Its lifespan can surpass timeframes far beyond our imagination. Yet, once that cork is out, it’s a whole different story.
Down to the fact that many wine drinkers will save their leftovers for another time, we feel like it’s important to share the true lifespan of an open bottle, along with optimal storage solutions. We’d hate to think about wasted wine.
Here’s some insider tips on storing your wine once it’s open, along with realistic timeframes for how long you can expect to keep it for (if at all).
What dictates the open lifespan of wine?
There are a number of factors which can dictate the open lifespan of wine. From its quality and form, to the environment it’s been opened in, some will remain perishable for a day or two, while others can withstand months.
Unfortunately, many bottles will be opened, put in the fridge, left for a long period of time, and still expect to carry a consumable status. Yet in the majority of cases, this is unrealistic, down to oxidization. If this is how you treat your wine, it’s time to understand how your wine storage can improve its open lifespan, along with optimal time frames to consume it without waste.
Wine and their open lifespans
Read more about different wines and the open lifespans.
The key deciding factor of a still wines’ open lifespan is its quality. A good quality wine which has been stored correctly will last longer whilst opened, in comparison to a cheap, manhandled number. In most cases, this is common sense, yet many wine drinkers will expect any bottle to preserve once it’s in the fridge – again a big no no.
Similarly, to the quality of wine, its form and colour can also impact its open lifespan. So, if your favourite bottle is a white or red, it’s important that you know how long it will be in its prime for.
Red wines are known for high tanning levels. Those tanning levels are classed as protection, as a barrier against oxygen. Down to this asset, red wines can be opened and consumed up to 6 or 7 days later. Yet, again, this figure can fluctuate depending on the quality and makeup of the bottle.
White and rosé wines
Well-made lighter wines can again preserve, especially if they are stored correctly in the fridge. A pricey bottle can be open for at least a week in some cases. Yet again, if a wine is mass-produced, if it’s an everyday kind of wine such as a Sauvignon Blanc, there is risk that its body and flavour will begin to subsidise a few days in.
It’s important to remember that some of the features of wine may begin to vanish the longer it’s open for; including its smell, taste and body.
Sparkling wines luckily have an extra level of protection, in comparison to still. Yet, once a bottle is opened, its sparkle can soon dwindle, down to a lack of pressure. For your best bet, using a wine stopper will be recommended, placing enough pressure to maintain internal carbon dioxide levels.
Every time you open a bottle of sparkling wine, by removing its cork or stopper, its quality will reduce. Down to the fact that oxygen will make its way into the bottle, those sought-after bubbles will begin to decline. The wine will still be consumable without the bubbles, yet its traditional form will disappear.
A half full bottle of sparkling wine will last around 2 days, whereas a fuller bottle will reach the 4-day mark.
Fortified wines are again different to your everyday bottle, down to their original storage. Similarly, the quality and type of fortified wine can influence the amount of time it can remain open and perishable for. Yet, the biggest tell-tale sign is down to its storage environment, for example, some fortified wines are kept in oak barrels, strengthening its organic protection.
As many fortified wines are already exposed to oxidization, they can withstand further oxygen, with the potential to continue their maturity process, ideal for future consumption.
The general consensus of a wine’s open lifespan falls down to its quality and form. For example, vintage ports can stay open for around a week after initial consumption. Yet, storage must be on top form to ensure that excess UV light or air doesn’t damage the bottle and its internal ingredients. If stored correctly, oxidization can begin to develop after 1 week. So, if you’re hoping to consume a vintage number, plan to enjoy it for the short-term.
Fortified port which has been stored impeccably from its production, commonly in the form of sealed oak barrels will usually withstand greater conditions once opened. You may get away with this 2 to 3 weeks later, but you must store it in the fridge, without much movement.
Sherry again will last depending on its style and form. For example, a Fino style sherry, if stored in the fridge will last around a week. Yet, Oloroso styles can last much longer, commonly up to 8 weeks.
If you’re looking for a fortified wine that will preserve once it’s been opened, it’s definitely worth investing into a pricier bottle.
Madeira wines are produced for longevity, down to their existing exposure to oxygen and heat. Down to this factor, a fortified wine can stay open for much longer than a still or sparkling, as long as it is stored away from UV light, from excessive heat, from lingering smells and within a low footfall area.
It’s important to remember that many wines are produced in certain forms, already marking their lifespan potential. Still wines are usually bought for short-term consumption, while fortified wines are purchased for the long-term. Through these intentions, they are organically made to withstand those lifespans.
How to correctly store your wine
How you store your wine from purchase can impact your consumption experience. Your storage solution can also influence how long your bottle can survive once exposed to oxygen.
Down to the fact that you can control your original wine storage, it’s important that you understand and exercise the below tips, helping to elevate both a sealed and opened bottle.
- You should always store your wine, no matter its form, style or colour at 12°C. Anything colder will motivate oxidization, while anything higher will influence early ageing. Both of these scenarios are undesirable, so it’s important that you keep it at this temperature, up until you’re ready to serve.
- Avoid lingering smells as much as you possibly can. Common smells which enter a bottle and class it as non-perishable come from the kitchen. By storing your wine away, you’ll decrease the risk of unpleasant smells and tastes.
- You should store your wine in a quiet area of your home, where reduced footfall is common. Unfortunately, movement can cause vibrations, which can split your wine, even before you’ve consumed it.
- Keeping your wine within 55-80% humidity will decrease the risk of both oxidization and unwanted disruptions to the ageing process.
- Avoid excessive UV exposure when storing every bottle of wine. UV light can damage its colour and taste, by progressing the ageing process at an uncontrollable rate.
By storing your wine optimally from the offset, you’ll have a greater chance at opening a quality, well-kept bottle, known to preserve greater once opened.
The difference between storage and serving environments
Another area we must cover is the difference between storage and serving environments. That’s right, you should store and serve your wine differently. Although there are general rules of thumb which cross over both, such as the reduction of excessive UV light, areas such as temperature should differ.
If you mix storing and serving temperatures up, you can either damage an unopened bottle, or cut the lifespan of an opened bottle short. This is something we definitely want to avoid and hope you will too, moving forward.
For example, red wines should be stored from purchase by following the above tips. Yet, once you’re ready to consume your favourite bottle of Merlot or Rioja, you should bring your bottle to room temperature. Some red wines are served chilled, after an hour or so in the fridge, yet in general, red wine will be consumable at 16-19°C.
If you’re left with a half-finished bottle, with the intention to consume a few days later, it is recommended that you keep your bottle upright, in the fridge, with the aim to slow down oxidization. Using a wine stopper will be best, to reduce the risk of diluted, watered down textures. Yet, for the best results, helping your bottle stay open for longer, using a wine fridge, designed for preservation will be encouraged.
If you’re a wine lover, hoping to elevate your consumption experience and preserve your wine, keep your eyes peeled for more tips here at Elite Wine Refrigeration. If you’re looking for a wine refrigeration solution to meet your needs, get in touch today.