You decided to open a bottle of wine after a long day of work, drank a glass or two, and then called it a day. Meanwhile, while you’re catching Zs, your favorite bottle of pinot noir is just sitting there, catching air. After realizing your wine mistreatment, you begin to wonder if it’s possible to salvage the remaining wine. So, is it possible? Well, it depends.
An opened bottle largely depends on two factors: the type of wine in the bottle and how it is stored. For instance, table wines can last three to five days after they’ve been opened. Fortified wines, or dessert wines, such as port and sherry, can last much longer; there are some who say they can last for months or even years. Here’s how to break it down.
7. Sparkling Wine
Sparkling wines, such as champagne and prosecco, can lose their carbonation quickly after opening. The carbonation protects the wine from oxidation, but time is limited. After a few days, the wine will become flat. Use a special sparkling wine stopper to help slow the oxidation process. When it becomes entirely flat and undrinkable, it works great for cooking. You can use it in a pasta sauce or risotto for a light, sweet flavor.
6. Light Whites, Including Sweet and Rosé
Although the flavor can change within the first day after opening, light wines can typically last five to seven days if closed with a cork and stored in the refrigerator. While the wine may lose some of its taste (especially in fruity flavors like pear or apple that can become less pronounced), it is still very much drinkable.
5. Full-Bodied Whites
Oaked wines, like chardonnay and viognier, are stronger against oxygen and can last three to five days after opening. These wines are commonly aged in oak barrels, which are airtight the way stainless steel casks are. The early exposure to oxygen can help prevent their rapid oxidation, so they can last a while longer than sparkling wine. Try using vacuum caps to get more out of your wine.
4. Red Wines
If you plug red wines with a cork and store them in a cool, dark place, you can still drink these three to five days after you open them. Red wines contain more tannins and natural acidity, which help protect them against the damage brought on by oxygen. The more tannins that are found in a wine, the longer you can drink them. Light reds, such as pinot noir or beaujolais, which are considered to be low on the tannin scale, won’t last as long as rich red like petite syrah or shiraz. If you are unable to find a cool, dark place to store your opened bottles of red wine, it is better to place them in a fridge.
3. Fortified Wines
Fortified wines (also known as dessert wines) get their name because they have been fortified with grape spirits or brandy. The brandy helps protect the wine against spoilage and allows it to last a long time. Plus, many are aged in oak casks, which introduce a lot of air. There are certain fortified wines, like madeira and marsala, that are oxidized and cooked before they are made, thus extending their shelf life. Once you have opened a fortified wine, cork it closed and store it in a cool, dark place.Related: Say Cheers to Good Health With Red Wine
2. How to Know If Your Wine Is Bad
When you are trying to figure out if your half-full bottle of wine can still be consumed, keep these tips in mind: Look, smell, and then taste. If your glass of red wine used to be a vibrant ruby red and is now a tawny brown color, the wine is officially oxidized. You might want to avoid drinking it. But be sure to give it a smell. Is it full of sharp notes of vinegar? If so, it might have already turned.
Finally, taste it. You will be able to immediately know if you can drink the wine or if it’s time to throw it out. Although there are some wines that are technically past their prime but are still delicious. It depends entirely on how it tastes to you. It is important to note that wine won’t be “bad” in the sense of it becoming toxic or dangerous to consume.
1. How to Store Wine Better
To begin, you must be fully prepared with the right tools to preserve your wine. Sparkling wines store better with specially-designed sparkling wine stoppers. Vacuum-seal stoppers are an excellent way to slow down oxidation.
It is also a great idea to get into the habit of immediately stoppering all open bottles with a cork or a specially-designed stopper as soon as you pour a glass. By doing so, this will protect the wine, and also prevent you from leaving your bottles open in the future.
Also, be sure to slip any open wines into the fridge (for sparkling or whites) or keep in a cool, dark place (reds and fortified wines), so the light and heat from a kitchen or an outside barbecue won’t cause significant damage.
In the worst case, where you are unable to find a cork and have no stopper at hand, close the bottle with plastic wrap and a rubber band. Try to wrap it as tightly as possible. It’s not ideal, but it can help slow oxidation.Related: Red Wine a Substitute for Exercise?