Curious Small Sip #45: How Long Does Wine Last after Opening a Bottle?

How long does wine stay drinkable after the bottle has been opened?

Like many wine drinkers, you’ve probably asked yourself how long a bottle of wine will last once it’s been opened. Well, if you’re sharing with friends and really apply yourselves, it’ll be empty in no time.

But maybe you’re asking about those occasions when the bottle isn’t done by the time you are? How long will the wine keep then?

The short answer is, “It depends.” The more useful longer answer is below.

Step 1: put the cork back in or use a stopper. Fancy vacuum device, if you must. Your mission is to keep as much oxygen out as possible.

Red wine has the shortest lifespan once it’s been opened. Three to five days, most sources say. The higher the tannin content, the longer it’ll preserve. So light tannin Gamay- or Pinot Noir-based wines aren’t going to stay drinkable for as long as wines with more tannins, like a Shiraz or Nebbiolo. Best stored in a cool place, rather than the fridge.

White wines and rosés fare better. Stick them in the fridge and they could be good for up to a week. Again, though, grape variety and style are important. Heavier, oak-aged whites, like a muscle-toned Ozzie Chardonnay or a full-bodied white Rioja, won’t last as long as greener, zestier numbers aged in stainless steel. That’s because wines that have been stored in oak have already been exposed to oxygen through the porous wood, so they have less fight left in them.

Fortified wines last longest once opened, easily a month. Madeira and Marsala will last much longer, because they were already treated so badly when they were made, a bit of oxygen isn’t going to scare them one bit.

As for sparkling wine, don’t bother, drink the lot once open.

By the way, if you’re drinking bag-in-a-box wine, this will stay good for weeks, because the bag-in-a-box design keeps the filthy oxygen out.

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