How Long Is Wine Good After Opening?
We've all found ourselves with an unfinished bottle of wine at the end of the night, and some of us have learned (the hard way) why it's a bad idea to polish off what's left. This, of course, leads us to the question: How long is an open bottle of wine good? Here's what you should know.
After hosting a happy hour or dinner party, there's a good chance of having an open bottle of wine left unfinished. It always leaves us wondering, "How long is wine good after you open it?" The short answer is one to two days. You can rely on that time span in almost all cases. However, the honest answer is, “It depends.” How long an open bottle of wine remains fresh and drinkable can depend on its age and other characteristics, as well as how you store it. Here's the full scoop.
How to Store an Open Bottle of Wine
You do have some control over extending the shelf life of an open bottle of wine. Use these tips to make it last as long as possible.
The short answer: Put a cork in it and store it in the fridge for one or two days. This applies to both red and white wine. too.
The nitty-gritty: You’ve likely heard that it’s good to let wine “breathe” after opening. Indeed, letting newly uncorked wine get a little exposure to the open air helps revive dormant flavors and aromas after being sealed away from oxygen for so long.
However, with continued exposure to oxygen, the wine’s flavors and aromas will fade. That’s why you want to reduce an open bottle’s exposure to oxygen as much as possible. Light is also a culprit—extended exposure to daylight can mute those lip-smacking characteristics you loved early on in your relationship with the wine.
Cork It and Chill It
The best way to store an open bottle of wine is to recork it and put it in the refrigerator. Yes—even red wines should be refrigerated after opening. They’ll stay fresher that way. Simply bring them to cool room temperature before drinking.
What? You’ve accidentally misplaced the cork? No problem. Simply cover the bottle’s opening with plastic wrap and secure it with a rubber band. It’s not ideal (a cork is better), but it will work for a day or two. A wine stopper will work, too.
Vacuum Wine Pumps
Some wine-lovers swear by a vacuum wine pump, which is a gadget that removes air from wine to keep it fresher longer. Not everyone agrees on how effective these tools actually are, though. But because the gadgets are relatively inexpensive—like this Original Vacu Vin Wine Saver ($11.99, Amazon)—they’re worth checking out if you often find yourself with half-finished bottles of wine at the end of a night.
How Long Is White Wine Good After Opening?
The same general rules above apply to white wine specifically, but the vintage year can make a difference.
The short answer: One to two days.
The nitty-gritty: Once open, older wines deteriorate more quickly than younger wines. Fortunately, the white wines that most of us buy (unless we’re collectors or serious connoisseurs) are meant to be enjoyed while relatively young. Because young wines stay fresher longer, the one- to two-day range will work for most whites. Be sure to recork and store in the fridge.
How Long Is Red Wine Good After Opening?
You guessed it: That one- to two-day range works for red wine, too, but reds can get a little more complicated.
The short answer: One to two days.
The nitty-gritty: The answer to the question “How long does red wine last opened?” is more complicated than for other wines. While one to two days is a fine rule of thumb for most red wines, keep in mind that older wines fade more quickly than younger wines.
Therefore, if you’ve opened that cellar-trophy bottle—a wine that’s been purposefully aged for years to add complexity and balance—then you’re looking at the lower end of the one- to two-day range.
The good news is that the vast majority of wines sold today are ready to quaff (that's winespeak for drink) as soon as they’re released for sale. That means your everyday red wine will probably keep just fine for the full two days.
Guidelines for Other Varieties of Wines
We’ve covered the most common wines above. But what about other kinds of wine, such as sparkling and fortified wines? All do best when recorked and stored in the fridge; however, their shelf lives vary somewhat. Here are some rules of thumb.
- Sparkling wine: Champagne, cava, Prosecco, and other sparkling wines lose their bubbles usually within a day after opening. You might be able to make the bubbles last a day or two longer with a sparkling wine stopper, like this Winco Champagne Stopper ($4.99, Amazon).
- Fortified wines: These bottles, which include port, padeira, and Marsala, can last up to 28 days. That’s because fortified wines contain brandy or a neutral spirit, which helps preserve them longer once open.
- Rosé: Because rosé wines are made from either red grapes or a blend of red and white grapes, it’s no surprise that the one- to two-day range that applies to red and white wines apply to rosé wines as well.
If you have an open bottle on your counter from last week, we wouldn't advise drinking it. Use these tips to make your open bottles last as long as possible or as a good excuse to invite a friend over to help you finish an open bottle within the prime one- to two-day window. Cheers!