How Long Can Wine Keep After Being Opened

Words: Katrina Rose Wind

Have you ever stopped yourself from opening a bottle of wine just because you’re afraid it will go off in a couple of days? Do you desperately just want a single glass but are scared to commit to the whole bottle? Pouring “old” wine out feels like such a waste, we know. Well, fret no more because what you have been previously told about wine going off in a day or two has been more than a bit misleading.


All wines are different, and wine can be made in so many different ways, it’s hard to give you a blanket response on all wines. That being said, one thing all wines have in common is aeration, which is what happens when you open a bottle of wine. Aeration is the process of air getting mixed into a liquid, which leads to oxidation. The problem is, even after you put the cork back in that bottle of wine, the process continues.

bottle of wine

Even though oxidation is what leads to the change of taste and colour in the wine, it can still be beneficial to the wine in small doses. If you’re a wine connoisseur you probably already know that to enhance the flavours of wine it’s best to decant it for a few hours. By letting the bottle of wine breathe you’re also getting rid of unwanted aromas and can soften flavours. In fact, young, tannic red wines typically benefit the most from “breathing.”

Air Exposure

Knowing that letting air come into contact with your bottle of wine isn’t a vino death sentence is pretty reassuring. If you can control the oxidation and make sure that the wine bottle hasn’t been exposed to air too much, you can pretty much drink that wine up to a week later. The trick is making sure that you re-cork the bottle immediately after pouring each glass. There is no point decanting a bottle of wine if you know you’re not going to drink the whole thing.

If you’ve lost your cork and leave the bottle open on the counter the whole night, the chances of it tasting great the next day are quite low. So even if you can’t find the cork, cover the bottle with something – even plastic wrap if you must. The more you can minimise air exposure, the longer the wine will taste fresh. Another thing to note is that a re-corked bottle that’s almost full has much less air in it than a re-corked bottle that’s almost empty. So don’t feel bad if you only had a glass or two and are worried that it will go off quicker.

Exposure and Storing Bottles of Wine

Another factor that can lead to wine going off is exposure to light and heat. Sounds odd but it’s true. Light can regroup a wine’s chemical compounds which can cause the wine to be light-struck. What that means is that the wine has been aged more rapidly causing the aroma and the taste to not be optimal.

bottle of wine

Heat is also known to be a wine killer. Storing wine in a cool place is a great way to ensure that the flavours remain intact. Leaving wine in temperatures over 21 degrees can permanently tinge the flavour of the wine.

The best way to ensure your opened bottle of wine will keep is to not only re-cork but also refrigerate, that way you’re limiting the wine’s exposure to oxygen, light and heat. An opened bottle resting on its side in the refrigerator is creating a much greater surface area for air exposure. Storing wine on its side is a way to ensure that the cork remains moist and expanded, which is what you want. Another important factor about storing in the fridge is that it’s dark in there when the door is closed, ensuring that it won’t be exposed to light or UV rays.

Basically, if you take care of your opened bottle of wine and use the right precautions, your wine can last up to a week! Except for sparkling wine, an open bottle of bubbles will usually only last up to three days max before going flat. However, when it comes to reds and whites, only you can really tell if the wine is still drinkable. If it looks good and smells like you’d actually like to drink it, give it a taste. If you’re into it, then no one can tell you not to drink it.

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