We’ve all been there before: you’re done with dinner and a half-empty bottle of wine sits on the table - but you're just not ready to finish it tonight. How should you store what’s left, and how long will it last now that it’s been opened?
The Factors That Determine How Long Wine Lasts
Typically, three environmental factors influence how long an opened bottle will last: oxygen, sunlight, and temperature.
Oxidation is by far the most significant factor to consider once you open a bottle of wine. Closed bottles do experience minor oxygen interaction through the sealed cork or in the cask, but under optimal conditions, the wine is protected from unwanted oxidation.
None of that preparation offers any protection once you open the bottle. Every time you uncork a bottle, you’re exposing its contents to air, allowing oxygen to interact with the wine and speed up the natural oxidation process.
Sunlight, unlike oxygen, affects both opened and unopened bottles equally.
Whatever UV protection a wine gets comes not from the cork, but from the bottle itself; clear bottles offer no protection, whereas darker amber or green bottles have better protection. If you’re choosing between two bottles, and UV degradation is a concern, choose the darker bottle!
Finally, heat can also break down the wine found in a closed or open bottle. The warmer the temperature, the quicker the chemical reactions will take place. Refrigerator storage for white wine, and sometimes red wine, is the best choice for opened bottles.
How Long Does Open Wine Last?
Have you popped the cork on a bottle of wine and wondered, “How long will this last after I open it?”
The answer depends on the type of wine.
Sparkling wine lasts about 1 to 3 days when refrigerated. A sparkling wine stopper can help retain the bubbles by adding extra pressure.
Sparkling wine is, by its very nature, designed for immediate enjoyment. Popping the cork releases the pressure, which leads to fewer bubbles and, eventually, a flat wine. All types, whether Champagne, Prosecco, Cava, Asti Spumante, sparkling rose or any other sparkling wine, will begin to lose their bubbles once the carbon dioxide is exposed to oxygen.
Unlike other wines, sparkling wines are frequently available in smaller 375 mL or 185 mL bottles. Choosing a smaller bottle to begin with can ensure that you never have leftover wine that’s lost its sparkle.
Light-bodied white wine will last about four to six days in the fridge. These wines typically have higher acidity, which helps to keep them fresh for longer. The lower the acidity, the shorter lifespan the wine will have once opened. Riesling, Gruner Veltliner, sauvignon blanc and pinot gris are all lighter-bodied whites that can last up to a week in the refrigerator.
Rose is similar in storage potential to light-bodied white wine, in that it will generally last about four to six days when refrigerated. Higher quality rose will last the longest, while easy-drinking roses are best consumed within a day or two at most.
Full-bodied white wines last about three to five days in the refrigerator. They lack the crisp acidity of lighter-bodied wines, which lessens their shelf life once opened. Full-bodied whites, such as California Chardonnay, are best enjoyed within a few days.
Light-bodied red wines will last about two to three days when stored in a cool, dark place. These wines typically lack the tannins of fuller-bodied reds, which act as a natural preservative. For light-bodied reds like pinot noir, Gamay or Grenache, immediate consumption is ideal.
Full-bodied red wines will last about three to five days when stored in cellar conditions. Unlike lighter-bodied reds, they have more tannins that allow them to keep for longer after opening. You can store red wine in the fridge, but it’s best in a cool spot away from direct sunlight and warm temperatures.
Sweet Dessert Wines
Sweet wines can last for about five to ten days when stored in the fridge. This slightly extended storage potential is due to the sugars in the wine, which act as a natural preservative, much like the tannins in red wines.
Fortified wines last the longest out of all wine types, but opened shelf life varies highly depending upon the variety.
Vintage port has the shortest lifespan after opening (about one or two days), as it has little resistance to oxygen. The older the vintage port, the sooner you should drink it.
Late bottle vintage port can be either filtered or unfiltered. Unfiltered LBV can last for about 2 weeks, while filtered LBV will be fresh for about 10 days.
Ruby port can last anywhere from 2 to 3 weeks, but it can last longer if stored in the fridge using a T-stopper.
Tawny port lasts longer because it spends a lot of time aging under oxidative conditions. Tawny ports are typically good for up to 4 weeks and may last longer if refrigerated.
Sherry, like port, varies with how long it lasts once opened. Fino and Manzanilla will stay fresh for about 1 week. Amontillados will last about 2 to 3 weeks, while Cream Sherries and Olorosos can last for 4 to 6 weeks. You’ll be able to store Pedro Ximenez Sherry for about 2 months, while VOS (aged 20 years) and VORS (aged 30 years) will last for several months or more.
Finally, Madeira wine can last for years once opened, since it is already cooked and oxidized.
How to Make Your Wine Last Longer
To make your wine last longer, make sure you store it upright in a refrigerator in order to reduce the surface area being oxidized. Recork or, if the cork is no longer serviceable, use a replacement stopper. You might also consider rebottling into a smaller bottle with a screw cap.
You can also try a wine preserver that removes the air from the bottle, or you can purchase a Coravin system that lets you pour wine through a needle while adding argon gas.
Are you ready to find the ideal wine for your collection or for a dinner party? Reach out to our wine experts for personalized wine consultation services on everything from recommendations to wine storage to sourcing rare vintages.