How Long Does Opened Wine Last?
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Pubdate 2022-07-08 in wine related
Opened wine
Wine knowledge

How Long Does Opened Wine Last?

How Long Does Opened Wine Last?
As with any other product, the rule of "looking, smelling, tasting" also applies when it comes to wine.
If something looks unappetizing, with, for example, mold growth or clumps of bacteria, you hardly need to smell it to leave it alone.

If everything looks perfectly okay but smells different, it can often still be put to good use in cooking; in, for example, sauces and stews.

If everything looks okay and it smells as usual, but it tastes different, then it is usually possible to drink but some adaptation concerning what food to pair it with might be needed. Of course, it should then also work well for use in cooking if you still do not want to drink it.

Also if a wine should turn out to be defective already when you open it: be it slightly oxidized, cork damaged (meaning TCA, trichloroanisole, was formed when chlorine used to clean the corks remained on the cork and then reacted with the wine), too old, post-fermented and so on, such a wine also often lends itself very well for use in cooking, so do not be too hasty to pour it out!
How Long Does Opened Wine Last?
Foto Opened wine av Pxhere
What factors affect the survival of a wine in its opened state?

- Oxidation during production and storage affects the vitality of a wine. A port wine of the tawny variety, a Madeira, or even a Fino or any of the other aged wines from Jerez lasts well over a month in an open bottle, simply thanks to its long storage in barrels. Even the older type of well-oaked barrel-aged Rioja lasts significantly longer than many other wines. Natural wines, now so in vogue, generally last much longer stored in an opened bottle than many simpler wines; thanks to their fermentation/storage in, for example, amphorae, where they were exposed to oxygen at an early stage. In sweeping terms: young, acidic wines having been vinified in closed systems and stored in steel or plastic tanks have the shortest life spans, in other words wines that have been exposed to minimal oxygen to maintain their purity and crunchiness.
- Once again, the grape variety also plays an important role in the greater picture. If we take as an example two of the great grapes of the south of France, Grenache, and Syrah: The former is an oxidative grape, that is, it easily oxidizes and can produce a dried character, which is why it is often vinified and stored on concrete or steel. It is vinified in a more reductive style to balance out the oxidation. Syrah, which is a reductive grape, i.e. a grape that needs some oxygen to lighten up its otherwise very beefy suit, is often stored on oak to sprite it up somewhat. It is often vinified in an oxidative style, which means the wine is raised with ample supply of oxygen. We are talking here in general terms of course, but the grape variety and the manner in which the production takes place affect the wine's life cycle. White wines, in general, oxidize significantly faster than red wines; and rosés are somewhere in between!
- The oxygen content in the bottle affects the wine, it is therefore advantageous to pour over the wine in a more suitable bottle, where the remaining space for oxygen is minimal. Some people instead use a vacuum pump to suck out the oxygen or a Coravin, where argon gas replaces the wine that is emptied into the glass, to prolong the life of the rest of the wine.
- Putting the wine in the refrigerator also ensures it lasts much longer. The oxidation process slows considerably as the temperature at which the wine is stored is lowered; an ordinary refrigerator is absolutely perfect, but a cool basement also works well.
- The quality of the wine is also a decisive factor, as simple wines are exposed to a minimum of oxygen and have been produced from grapes with lower inherent capacity for great deeds. So, again in general terms: cheaper wines are for drinking right away, and any leftovers should end up in a sauce.
How Long Does Opened Wine Last?
Foto Opened wine bottle av Rawpixel
But give us an indication of a reasonable storage period for opened bottles, you say. Well sure, say we!

Three days is an often stated life span for an opened bottle, and a reasonable one for a simpler wine that is stored in the original bottle at room temperature. If you pour the remains into a smaller bottle immediately and store it in the fridge, it will instead last for at least 4-5 days. A more qualitative wine that is stored coolly often keeps for a week without the slightest of problems. When we competed a lot in the art of blind tasting, we would at any given time have about twenty opened wine bottles down in the cellar to be able to consistently sample, and they lasted more than a week; however, we always transferred the simpler wines to smaller bottles to minimize oxidation. For exclusive bottles, we strongly recommend a Coravin to be able to pour a glass or two and be guaranteed that the remaining wine is of the same quality two weeks later. However, one should be aware that Coravin also has its limitations; if the bottle level drops below a third, cold storage and a maximum of a couple of weeks of shelf life is a good rule of thumb to keep in mind.
To sum it all up: practice your sense of sight, smell, and taste by comparing the development of a wine in an opened bottle, give the wine the right conditions under which to be stored, and do not throw out a carefully crafted product but rather give it new life in the pan.

In short - go forth and enjoy!
Bruno Ohlzon
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