This article is a part of Wine Week—seven days celebrating all things wine—presented in partnership by our friends at Bread & Butter Wines.
Internet memes may tell you “there’s no such thing as leftover wine”—a joke about drinking that misses the point that, very often in daily life, we might not finish an open bottle. If we do have leftovers, the conventional wisdom is that the clock is ticking, since wine is best the same day it’s opened, or should be consumed by the next day at most. This is frustrating, though, if you don’t want to drink that opened wine the very next day or if you don’t have the chance, especially when the leftovers are of a great quality. And pouring “old” wine out feels like a waste. Many of us will ask under these circumstances, But how bad can it be? Understanding how long an open bottle of wine lasts is key to making the most of every last drop—before it turns into vinegar.
The process that starts when you open a bottle of wine is called aeration, which leads to oxidation, which “increases color change and the loss of fruity characteristics,” according to professor Gavin Sacks, Professor of Enology and Viticulture in the Department of Food Science at Cornell University. It also “leads to the loss of sulphur dioxide, which preserves the wine,” he says, and dissipates aromas. Even if you put the cork or a wine stopper back in, the process continues, since no closure is airtight and oxygen has already been introduced.
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What Is Oxidation?
The great news is that although it’s not good in large doses, in small amounts, oxidation can be welcome, or even beneficial, to a bottle of wine. It occurs naturally inside the barrel and bottle when the wine ages. Sometimes if a fine wine hasn’t aged enough (meaning it still tastes overly tannic and astringent), experts will decant it or allow it to aerate for a few hours. This helps optimize the flavor by making it mellower and can allow unwanted aromas to dissipate. Swirling one’s glass may look showy, but it is also a practical way to aerate. These are positive examples of allowing a wine to “open up” or “breathe.” And even with some medium-quality bottles, wine-nerdy people will open them and taste over the course of a few days, to watch how the flavor changes over time.
Thus, if you can control the oxidation, you can sometimes drink a bottle of wine up to a week after opening it, depending on a number of factors such as how full the bottle is, the light exposure, the temperature at which the wine was stored, and what kind of wine it was in the first place.
The following can help you judge how long an opened bottle might still be drinkable. For our purposes, we are assuming that you don’t have any fancy wine preservation gadgets, such as a Coravin, and that you want your wine to taste not just good enough, but still very good.
How much air has it gotten?
The trick with making a wine last is to avoid exposure to air. A bottle that has been left open overnight or has been decanted has gotten a lot more air than one that was opened and immediately re-corked. A re-corked bottle that’s almost full has much less air in it than a re-corked bottle that’s almost empty. An opened bottle resting on its side in the refrigerator is creating a much greater surface area for air exposure. A bottle whose cork has been lost is better off covered with foil or plastic wrap than just left open. There’s no hard and fast rule, but the more you can minimize air exposure, the longer the wine will taste great.
Where has it been stored?
Heat hastens oxidation in wine, and colder temperatures slow it down. Both reds and whites should ideally be stored in the refrigerator, according to professor Sacks. Light is also a factor. UV rays, which travel easily through both clear and green bottles, instigate a sulphur-releasing process which affects the wine’s scent, a major factor in taste. (Consumer tip—you might not want to buy the wines displayed near the big front windows of your favorite wine store, especially those in clear bottles.) Again, the refrigerator is the answer. It’s dark in there when you don’t have the door open. If you’re concerned about drinking your reds too cold, you can do as professor Sacks suggests: He pours a glass and pops it in the microwave for five seconds.
What is the wine’s flavor profile?
Wines that are more tannic or acidic tend to hold up longer, since acids and tannins can often use some softening before they taste best. Any wine can be acidic—if it tastes a little fizzy or zingy or sharp, that’s how you know. Tannins come from the grape skins during the winemaking process, as does color, so you’ll find them mostly in red and to a lesser extent in rose and orange wines—they’re what give you that chalky taste in your mouth. If a wine tastes too acidic or tannic to you, there’s a strong chance that you’ll like it much more the next day, as oxidation acts to beneficially tame those characteristics.
In general, natural and organic wines tend to have more acidity and tannins and less perceived sweetness, so they also can be longer-lasting than their mass-produced counterparts. From the opposite perspective, fruit flavors fade first, so wines that are perceived to be sweet and fruity on day one will often have lost their magic by day two. And wines aged on the lees, (aka, the dead yeast originally added live to start the fermentation process), have a creamy, delicious mouthfeel, but start out fairly “flat” and age less well.
Is the wine aged in oak?
Wine that has been aged in oak barrels has a vanilla aroma and palate-pleasing smoothness. Oak can be good because it balances big, bold, jammy, fruity flavors and higher alcohol contents. But unfortunately, since notes of fruit in a wine are the first to go, oaky wine can quickly taste like oak water.
What grape is it?
Some grapes, particularly pinot noirs, are known to not be so sturdy. Pinot noir, the main grape in red Burgundies, is called the “heartbreak wine” because it’s so fickle that even bottles from legendary makers are sometimes lacking on arrival, and there can be a wide quality differential within the same case of wine. Other wines made from lighter red grapes can also potentially degrade faster. Professor Sacks added that sauvignon blanc based-wines are some of “the most readily oxidizable.”
By contrast, the most tannic grapes tend to make the sturdiest wines, such as some cabernet sauvignons from California and Bordeaux, some brunellos from Tuscany, which are made from sangiovese, some Barolos from Piedmont, which are made from nebbiolo, and some syrahs. And if that all sounds delicious now, try them on day three.
So, how long does an open bottle of wine last?
Well, the short answer is that it really depends on the type of wine. The tips above can help you identify elements about your wine to deduce how long you might have to drink it before it goes bad. Generally speaking, an open bottle of wine can last between 3 and 5 days, though that timeline varies when you get more specific with the bottle in question.
Sparkling wines can keep their flavor and fizz for up to 4 days in the fridge when sealed with a sparkling wine stopper (they’re easy to find and inexpensive, so grab one if you’re a fan of bubbles!). In the fridge, white wine can stay flavorful for up to 5 days when stored with a cork or wine stopper. As for red? Lighter ones can taste off after a few days, while hearty red wines can last for a few weeks in the fridge, and fortified wines like port can last for months. Extra points if you decant your wine into a smaller bottle to limit oxygen exposure—pro tip: a thoroughly rinsed glass Snapple bottle works great for this.
Wondering what to do with that wine you’ll never drink but don’t want to pour down the drain? Fill an ice tray with your leftover wine, freeze, and use the wine ice cubes for cooking! A couple cubes can be used to deglaze a pan when searing steak, add depth and richness to a soup or stew, or amplify jarred tomato sauce.
How Long Does That Open Bottle of Wine Last, Really? ›
In general, table wines, which are your typical non-sparkling reds and whites, last three to five days after they've been opened. Fortified wines, like Port or Sherry, can last a few weeks or even months after they've been opened.Can you drink really old opened wine? ›
Yes. Drinking old opened wine is not harmful as no dangerous bacteria are present. Even if the wine appears to have mold, you won't get ill from drinking it (unlike with spoiled food, for example.) However, the flavor and aroma of spoiled wine or corked wine (cork taint) won't be pleasant and can taste weird.Can you drink opened wine after 2 weeks? ›
You can usually leave it for at least a few days before the wine starts to taste different. However, we wouldn't advise you push this too far. Pouring yourself a glass from a bottle that's been open for longer than a week may leave you with an unpleasant taste in your mouth.Can you drink red wine 7 days after opening? ›
Red wines. If you stopper red wines with a cork and keep 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 protect them again the damage from oxygen. The more tannins in a wine, the longer you get with them.How long does wine last after opening screw top? ›
Wine should always be kept away from sunlight or heat and preferably in a dark cool place - or even better, the refrigerator! The fridge is the perfect place to keep your opened wine. Make sure the top is tightly screwed on and your chilled bottle of Riesling or Sancerre should be fine for at least 2-5 days.How can you tell if wine has gone bad? ›
A brown hue in red wine demonstrates that the liquid is past its prime. White wines that have darkened to a deep yellow or brownish straw color are usually oxidized. You detect astringent or chemical flavors. Wine that lacks fruit, is raspy, is too astringent, or has a paint-thinner taste is usually bad.Can you drink 1000 year old wine? ›
So, could you drink what's left? On a microbiological level, yes: Researchers say it's likely safe and won't kill you, although the wine won't taste good.Can I drink opened white wine after 3 weeks? ›
If you're wondering how long wine can last after opening, a bottle of white or rosé wine should be able to keep going for at least two to three days in the fridge, if using a cork stopper. But it varies depending on the style involved. Some wine styles may last for up to five days after opening.Should you refrigerate red wine? ›
Just as you store open white wine in the refrigerator, you should refrigerate red wine after opening. Beware that more subtle red wines, like Pinot Noir, can start turning "flat" or taste less fruit-driven after a few days in the refrigerator.What happens if I don't refrigerate wine after opening? ›
Some wines will become more expressive with that initial exposure, but after a while, all wines will fade. Oxygen will eventually cause any fresh fruit flavors to disappear and aromatics to flatten out. Drinking a wine that's faded due to oxidation won't make you sick, it will just taste unpleasant.
How many glasses of wine are in a bottle? ›
Standard Bottle – A standard bottle of wine is 750ml, or 25 fluid ounces, and will net you about 5 glasses of wine. Magnum Bottle – A magnum bottle of wine is 1.5L, or 50 ounces (double the standard), so you will be able to get about 10 glass of wine from this bottle.How long does cabernet sauvignon last after opening? ›
Examples of red full-bodied wines include Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Merlot. After opening, these wines can be kept for 3-5 days as long as they are stored in a cool, dark place with a cork on.Are screw caps bad for wine? ›
In all probability, a screw cap bottle will keep its freshness just as well as a cork bottle. Perhaps better. Indeed, that's why many Australian and New Zealand producers, even high-quality producers like Cloudy Bay, use screw-caps.Is 10 year old wine safe to drink? ›
Quick answer: no wine doesn't go off, but it might not taste good. It will be safe to drink, as in: it will not make you ill. The alcohol combined with natural acidity of wines create an environment unsuitable for harmful organisms to grow.Do you have to refrigerate screw top wine after opening? ›
Once a wine is opened and exposed to air, oxidisation begins robbing the wine of its fresh fruit flavours. That's why it's best to finish an entire bottle over a night or an event. Refrigeration can help keep the wine fresh for longer by slowing the oxidisation process and postponing spoilage.Can wine go bad and make you sick? ›
Typically, wine spoilage occurs due to oxidation, meaning that the wine may turn to vinegar. Although it may taste unpleasant, it is unlikely to cause harm. However, spoilage due to microbes may result in food poisoning. This type of spoilage is rare but possible.What does spoiled wine taste like? ›
A wine that has gone bad from being left open will have a sharp sour flavor similar to vinegar that will often burn your nasal passages in a similar way to horseradish. It will also commonly have caramelized applesauce-like flavors (aka “Sherried” flavors) from the oxidation.What makes wine go bad? ›
Wine spoilage is caused by bacteria that turn ethanol into acetic acid. This process is called oxidation and it's what makes wine taste sour and vinegary. Oxidation occurs when wine is exposed to oxygen, so it's important to keep wine sealed in a bottle or container with as little air exposure as possible.What's the oldest drinkable bottle of wine? ›
The South-West German city is home to the world's oldest wine bottle and, if experts are to be believed, it's actually drinkable. The Historical Museum of Palatinate, Speyer, is home to the 'Speyer Wine Bottle', a 1,700-year-old bottle of wine that was discovered in 1867.Can you drink 10 year old unopened wine? ›
When stored properly and kept unopened, white wines can often outlive their recommended drinking window by 1-2 years, red wines by 2-3 years, and cooking wines by 3-5 years. Fine wine — as you may have guessed — can typically be consumed for decades.
What is the oldest bottle of wine today? ›
The Historical Museum of the Palatinate in Speyer, Germany is home to what is widely believed to be the oldest bottle of wine in the world. The bottle is said to have been discovered upon the excavation of the grave of a Roman nobleman and woman in 1867, in what is now Speyer.Can you drink white wine 10 days after opening? ›
5–7 days in fridge with a cork Most light white and rosé wines will be drinkable for up to a week when stored in your refrigerator. You'll notice the taste will change subtly after the first day, as the wine oxidizes. The overall fruit character of the wine will often diminish, becoming less vibrant.Is wine good 2 months after opening? ›
How Long Does Open Wine Last? In general, table wines, which are your typical non-sparkling reds and whites, last three to five days after they've been opened. Fortified wines, like Port or Sherry, can last a few weeks or even months after they've been opened.How long should you keep opened white wine in the fridge? ›
Opened full-bodied whites can last between three and five days in the fridge after opening, but can stay fresher for longer if you use a vacuum-sealed cork. Lighter whites can also last for around the same amount of time in a fridge upon opening.How do you extend the life of a bottle of wine? ›
Reducing the exposure to oxygen is critical. Minimizing the exposed surface area will extend the wine's life, store opened bottles upright. Cool storage temps will reduce the level of oxygen absorption into the wine. The volume of the remaining wine will also matter.Is it better to drink red wine cold or room temperature? ›
Red wine is best served at least a little chilled.
“55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature for most reds, especially low-ABV and light reds that can be chilled even longer and served cooler, much cooler than a typical red," Fleming explained.
- Lambrusco. When it comes to wines that are exceptionally light in body yet still capable of carrying huge amounts of flavor, Lambrusco takes the cake. ...
- Beaujolais. ...
- Pinot Noir. ...
- Cabernet Franc. ...
- Frappato. ...
- Barbera. ...
- Zinfandel. ...
Should you put wine in the fridge? According to Vayda, you should always avoid storing wine for any length of time in standard refrigerators—even white and sparkling wines. "They're OK for bringing wine down to service temperature (i.e., before serving), but not good for product quality for long-term storage," he says.What wines should be refrigerated? ›
Lighter, fruitier, and drier white wines such as Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc are ideal at colder temperatures, usually between 45-50 degrees. Bubbly bottles such as Champagne, Prosecco, sparkling brut, and sparkling rosés should always be chilled to 40-50 degrees.Do you refrigerate peanut butter? ›
An open jar of peanut butter stays fresh up to three months in the pantry. After that, it's recommended to store the peanut butter in the fridge (where it can maintain its quality for another 3-4 months). If you don't refrigerate, oil separation can occur. Here's a run-down.
Is it OK to keep unopened wine in the fridge? ›
No matter how logical storing wine in the refrigerator may seem, the short answer is an emphatic, "No." A typical household refrigerator does not provide optimum conditions for storing wine for more than one or two days.Is drinking a bottle of wine a lot? ›
While drinking an entire bottle of wine can be considered excessive, especially when looking at the measures for moderate drinking, it's still not a definitive answer. That said, it's important to consider the health implications of consuming that much wine daily.Is it too much to drink 3 bottles of wine a week? ›
Experts say a a good maximum amount of wine for women would be a 5 oz glass of wine, and for men two 5 oz glasses of wine, no more than several times a week. Experts strongly advise women against having more than 3 drinks of wine per day, and for men, 4 drinks of wine per day.Why are wine bottles only 750ml? ›
In 1975 European Legislation on packaging declared that the wine can be sold only if packed in specific volumes. Because it's a convenient amount, the 750 ml size became the standard for customers–and for wine producers.Do you refrigerate cabernet after opening? ›
When it comes to red wine, because its characteristics are better expressed in warmer temperatures, any form of chilling might seem like a faux pas. But you shouldn't be afraid of storing opened red wine in the fridge. Cooler temperatures slow down chemical processes, including oxidation.Should I refrigerate Cabernet Sauvignon? ›
The ideal temperature for storing cabernet sauvignon wine is 52°F (11°C), which is slightly chilled, although the wine will fare well in temperatures between 40-65°F (5-18°C) provided there are no fluctuations in temperature. A wine refrigerator provides a good storage option for aging wines at the right temperature.Are you supposed to refrigerate Cabernet? ›
Yes you should put Cabernet Sauvignon in a fridge, preferably a wine fridge which can be set at a temperature around 14 - 16°C (57°F - 61°F). While you can keep it at room temperature, you'd better serve it slightly colder so people can fully appreciate its superb acidity and mild alcohol content.Which is better cork or screw top wine? ›
Corks are traditionally accepted, but they are more expensive and can cause cork taint in wines. All this is to say that one is not necessarily better than the other. Give screw cap wines a chance, but don't totally steer away from cork wines—especially if you are looking for something aged.Is screw top wine better than cork? ›
Studies show screw caps keep wines fresher longer, from bottling to you putting the cap back on at home. Screw caps have been around since the 1950s, but they started popping up on high-quality wines in the mid-1970s after Australian winemakers got tired of battling wine quality issues caused by natural corks.Is a cork better than plastic for wine? ›
Synthetic corks don't expand/contract within the bottle.
Why does this matter? Because unlike inert synthetic corks, natural cork expands and contracts alongside its bottle, maintaining an ideal and consistent tight seal between cork and bottle. And in wine-aging, consistency is KING!
Is it OK to drink 100 year old wine? ›
The best wines can be stored for more than 100 years, but most great wines will reach their peak before they turn 50 years old.Can I drink 200 year old wine? ›
Most wines will improve with age but too much age will ultimately spell the end of what was once a great wine. 200 year old shipwreck wines are lucky if they taste like wine at all.Is it OK to drink wine from 2006? ›
Unopened wine can be consumed past its printed expiration date if it smells and tastes OK.Can you drink month old opened wine? ›
Yes. Drinking old opened wine is not harmful as no dangerous bacteria are present. Even if the wine appears to have mold, you won't get ill from drinking it (unlike with spoiled food, for example.) However, the flavor and aroma of spoiled wine or corked wine (cork taint) won't be pleasant and can taste weird.What is the shelf life of red wine? ›
Typically, unopened bottles of red wine will last 2-3 years past the recommended drinking window. Their high tannin content ensures this long natural preservation. To maximise shelf life, store in a cool dark area away from sunlight.Is oxidized wine safe to drink? ›
Yes, you can drink oxidized wine. It's not dangerous to consume, it just has an unpleasant taste. Drinking oxidized wine is no different from consuming flat soda or stale bread. The chemical makeup has altered slightly, but there are no compounds added that would prevent you from being able to drink a glass.Can opened wine go bad in the fridge? ›
If you're wondering how long wine can last after opening, a bottle of white or rosé wine should be able to keep going for at least two to three days in the fridge, if using a cork stopper. But it varies depending on the style involved. Some wine styles may last for up to five days after opening.Is 10 year old red wine safe to drink? ›
White wine: 1–2 years past the printed expiration date. Red wine: 2–3 years past the printed expiration date. Cooking wine: 3–5 years past the printed expiration date. Fine wine: 10–20 years, stored properly in a wine cellar.Can you drink 10 year old Chardonnay? ›
Most California Chardonnays are ready to be enjoyed upon release or within 1-3 years of the vintage date. White wines of balance like Jordan, with lower alcohol and brighter acidity, can be cellared and appreciated for 5-7 years after harvest.Can you get sick from wine that has gone bad? ›
Health risks of consuming spoiled wine
Typically, wine spoilage occurs due to oxidation, meaning that the wine may turn to vinegar. Although it may taste unpleasant, it is unlikely to cause harm. However, spoilage due to microbes may result in food poisoning. This type of spoilage is rare but possible.
Is it OK to drink brown wine? ›
In that case, the wine will have lost its fruit flavors and taken on nutty notes, and the color will have started to turn brown. It's not harmful, but it won't taste good. Even on the rare chance that a wine has turned to vinegar, it would be unpleasant to drink, but not dangerous.What does oxidation smell like in wine? ›
The wine will release a nutty or jam-like odor (in white wines), or a sharp vinegar and unpleasant caramelized odor (in reds). It will taste and look flat, having lost its flavor, aroma and color.
- Cork it. If you suspect you might not finish the bottle in one sitting, immediately put the cork back in after pouring a glass.
- Store it upright. Storing the bottle upright ensures that a limited surface area is exposed to oxygen. ...
- Keep it out of the sun. ...
- Store in a cold, dark place.
For most wines, an aging time of two to three years is most appropriate. For the truly special bottles, 10-15 years is on the further side of the scale. If you're looking to age wine, definitely search for some people who have aged similar wines to find the best length of time.What is the oldest bottle of wine safe to drink? ›
The South-West German city is home to the world's oldest wine bottle and, if experts are to be believed, it's actually drinkable. The Historical Museum of Palatinate, Speyer, is home to the 'Speyer Wine Bottle', a 1,700-year-old bottle of wine that was discovered in 1867.What wines don't age well? ›
Wines like Rosé, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc are the main wines that come to mind when talking about wine that don't age well. The structural make up of these wines doesn't lend itself well to the aging process and probably won't give you any benefit.Can you drink a 20 year old bottle of wine? ›
When stored properly and kept unopened, white wines can often outlive their recommended drinking window by 1-2 years, red wines by 2-3 years, and cooking wines by 3-5 years. Fine wine — as you may have guessed — can typically be consumed for decades.