How Long Does An Open Bottle of Wine Last? Does It Go Bad?

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There is no worse feeling than pouring yourself a glass of wine that you have left over from weekends ago and being met with a drink that is more vinegar than wine. This happens to the best of us. You don’t have to be a wine connoisseur to know when your wine is past its peak.

Wine can be your beverage of choice at the end of a long day or your weekly indulgence or the one thing you splurge on special occasions.

Does Wine Go Bad?

Different types of wine, depending on how light or heavy they are, have different “expiry” dates. Wine doesn’t actually spoil unless there is some kind of bacteria or external contaminant in it. While unopened bottles of wine age well, opened bottles of wine will just begin to taste like vinegar. So, if you do end up drinking an opened bottle of wine much past its best-by date, it will not harm you, but it will have an unpleasant taste, definitely not the taste you should be experiencing from a bottle of wine.

How Long Does An Open Bottle Of Wine Last?

  • There is no one answer to this question. Obviously, a bottle of wine that has been opened has a much shorter shelf life than one that has not been opened. But there is no one size fits all, different types of wine have different shelf lives. But in general, an open bottle of wine will last anywhere between 3 and 7 days, with a few lasting 28 days.
  • A light red wine, like a Pinot Noir, will last for about 2-3 days when properly corked and stored. Light red wines have a lower alcohol content and fewer tannins, in turn reducing their shelf life.
  • A medium red wine like a Merlot will last for about 3-5 days when stored properly.
  • Full-bodied red wines have a much higher acidity level and more tannins. Wines like Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbecs are full-bodied red wines and will be good to drink for about 4 to 6 days when corked and stored with all care and precaution.
  • Rosé will be good to consume for about 5 days when stored properly.
  • Light white wines like Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling also have lower tannins and will taste good in the fridge for about 5 days to a week. They will start losing their sweet, light flavors after that.
  • Full-bodied white wines like Chardonnay will keep in the fridge for about 3-5 days.
  • Sparkling wines: Bubbly wines fall into two categories, traditional bubblies like Champagne and tank-method sparkling wines like Prosecco. High pressured sparkling wines like Cava and Champagne will have a slightly longer shelf life. But sparkling wine starts losing its fizz as soon as it’s been opened, and most sparkling wines don’t last for more than 3 days. The sparkling wine will not spoil after that, but it will have little to no fizz.
  • Fortified wines: These wines have the longest shelf life primarily because they have more sugar than regular wines. Fortified wines are often dessert wines and some of them have brandy added to them, like Sherry and Port, for example, resulting in a much longer shelf life. Fortified wines can be sweet or dry and sweet wines last longer when opened. Fortified wines usually last for about 28 days when opened. Fortified wines like Marsala though can last for years even when opened, owing to the way it has been heated and aged.
  • Boxed wines: While many people turn their noses up at boxed wines, there is still a huge market that favors them. Boxed wines are often cheaper and easier to store. Boxed wine that has been opened will be good for about 28 days in the fridge.
Types of WineCellar/Fridge
Light red wine2-3 days
Medium red wine3-5 days
Full-bodied red wine4-6 days
Rose5 days
Light white wine5-7 days
Full-bodied white wine3-5 days
Sparkling wine1-3 days
Fortified wine28 days
Boxed wine28 days

The above table is just an estimate, and the numbers can go either way depending on the care taken while storing as well as the quality and provenance of the grapes used as well as the wine-making method.

Irrespective of the estimated shelf life, it is best to go with your personal preference. Some people might drink wine even if it has turned sour and tastes acidic. Others might pour the bottle out. As the wine will not spoil after the best-by date, you can still consume it as long as you enjoy its taste.

How Best To Store An Open Bottle of Wine?

Wine was usually considered a posh drink that required complex care, specialized attention, and expensive storage conditions. Obviously, that is not the case as most people don’t have private cellars to store their favorite wines. But wine still requires some rigorous care to ensure quality and potency.

  • The most important thing is to keep your wine recorked or have the bottle closed tightly.
  • Wine stoppers are a good option if the original wine cork or bottle cap is unusable.
  • Make sure you close the wine tightly after pouring a glass, do not leave it open as this aerates the wine, changing its taste.
  • It is also critical that once a bottle of wine is opened it is either stored in the fridge or cellar.
  • White wines can be stored in the fridge without a problem, they will continue tasting great.
  • Red wines, on the other hand, are best stored at around 55 degrees F. Most people, store red wines in their fridge, you can let it sit out for a little bit before pouring if you want optimal temperature. Storing red wine in a wine cooler or wine fridge is also a good idea.
  • For bubbly wines, make sure you use a specialized sparkling wine stopper for it. These stoppers work best to retain the bubbles and taste.
  • It is also critical to store wines away from direct heat and sunlight as this will greatly affect the taste, color, and vibrancy of the wine.
  • You can also use a wine bottle vacuum pump to remove the excess air from the bottle before closing it again. Excess air oxidizes the wine making it taste sour, so removing the air will help in some way to retain the taste.
  • Another option is to transfer the remaining wine into a smaller bottle which will in turn have less air.

How To Tell If Your Wine Has Gone Bad?

You don’t need specialized knowledge to tell if your wine has turned.

  • The smell is the first indicator. Wine, depending on the type you are having, will have a distinct taste, from crisp and fresh to rich and strong. If your wine smells sour or off, then it has gone past its peak. You can still drink it, but it is not going to have a delicious taste.
  • The color is the next thing to look at. The wine starts to oxidize the moment it is exposed to air. White wines take on a darker yellow hue and red wine gets a brown hue.
  • If you are unsure of how good your wine is taking into consideration the smell and color, then a quick sip will do the trick. If your wine is extremely sour or tastes more like vinegar, then it is probably time to open a new bottle.

One of the most popular alcoholic beverages out there, the wine suits a variety of palates and budgets. Whether you like it dry and crisp with your lunch or sweet and strong after a big dinner, everyone can enjoy this delicious grape concoction. A proper stopper and ideal temperature settings are pretty much all you need to enjoy wine. And perhaps a blender. So, before tossing out your bottle first, swirl, sniff, and sip.

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