Most well-made wines will stay fresh and flavourful for a few days after you open the bottle. Beyond that, a lot depends on the style of the wine and how much remains in the bottle. After a few days of exposure, your favorite wine will still be drinkable, but will become less desirable than it was in its prime. I rarely keep any wine bottles. As is often the case, let taste be your guide.
The best way to preserve a wine after you’ve opened the bottle to reseal and refrigerate it. By limiting the wine’s exposure to light, heat and oxygen, you help the flavours of that bottle of red, white or rosé last longer. Transferring the wine into a smaller air-tight container — I’ve used mason jars and 375 mL bottles I have on hand — helps to extend the life span of a wine for up to seven days.
Once opened, a wine’s taste changes as the intensity of fruit flavours are reduced and become less vibrant due to oxidation. But other than punishing your tastebuds with vinegar-y or bruised apple flavours, spoiled wine isn’t going to harm you.
One to three Days
Sparkling wine/Champagne: Prosecco and other fruity and approachable bubblies including sparkling red Lambrusco are best enjoyed within a day or so, but Champagne and other bottled fermented styles can hold for up to three days provided you have one of those sparkling wine stoppers, which helps to keep the effervescence for a couple of days.
Five to seven days
Full-bodied White Wines and Most Reds: Chardonnay, Viognier and other full-bodied white wines (ones with alcohol levels higher than 13.5 per cent) are best enjoyed within three days of opening. That’s a safe window for many commercially made red wines as well. To my taste, red wines that have more tannin and acidity, think Chianti Classico, Rioja Reserva, or Bordeaux blends, will last longer once opened.
Five to seven days
Refreshing Whites and Rosés: The higher levels of acidity in these styles of wine helps to preserve their vibrant flavours for longer.
If you’re not content to stick the cork back in the bottle and place your wine in the fridge, here are some popular accessories designed to keep wine fresh when you don’t finish the bottle. Available at houseware stores, wine shops and online.
- Vacuum Caps: Products like VacuVin have been around for years and have many proponents. These hand pump systems are affordably priced and durable.
- Inert Gas: Cans of argon and other inert gases that are heavier than oxygen are sold by brands like Private Preserve, ArT and Cork Pops. These are easy to use and can be effective on sparkling wine provided the bottle is resealed tightly. (Some sommelier candidates and wine students I know, who need to continually taste a wide range of wines for their studies, use a combination of the VacuVin and argon gas to keep wines for a couple of weeks.)
- Coravin: A high end preservation system used by collectors and professionals, the Coravin unit siphons wine through the cork with a needle, preserving the rest of the wine bottle for another time. Units ranging from $199 to $529, with replacement argon gas capsules starting at $38.95 for a package of three.