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The question

We drink wine slowly. A bottle usually lasts three days. Are there some styles that stay fresher after they're opened?

The answer

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Absolutely. The general rule is: Concentration equals duration.

Your best bet is to stick with full-bodied reds, such as cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, syrah/shiraz, zinfandel, and whites rich in texture and phenolic compounds, such as viognier, gewürztraminer and oaked chardonnays. Stay away from pinot noir, gamay (the grape of Beaujolais), grenache and light whites such as pinot grigio.

Wine is fruit, in the end, and you know what happens to fruit soon after the protective skin is peeled back and it's exposed to oxygen: It turns brown. Red wines possess an inherent advantage over whites in this regard because they're fermented in contact with skins and seeds, which contain antioxidant tannins that end up in the wine. Fuller-bodied reds tend to contain more tannins and generally more solid extract that slows down the bruising effect. The difference can be dramatic. An uncorked, three-day-old cabernet sauvignon can be perfectly drinkable, while a day-old gamay can, at least to my taste, usually be unpalatably pruny, a mere shadow of its fresher self.

White wines have their own advantages, however. Although they're fermented without skin contact, they tend to be more acidic, and acid is a preservative. And some styles, notably chardonnay, are often matured in oak barrels, which contain wood tannins that leach into the wine, adding a small measure of protection.

And there are exceptions to the general rule. Generally, I find that "better-tasting" wines tend to possess more dry grape extract regardless of how full-bodied they are, and they are more likely to survive the oxygen onslaught than thin or simple industrial wines.

Whether it's red or white that you prefer, though, be sure to store the wine in the refrigerator after it's opened. Cold temperatures slow down chemical reactions associated with spoilage. Just make sure to pull the red from the fridge about half an hour before serving.

The Flavour Principle by Lucy Waverman and Beppi Crosariol (HarperCollins) won top prize for best general English cookbook at the 2014 Taste Canada Food Writing Awards.

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E-mail your wine and spirits questions to Beppi Crosariol. Look for answers to select questions to appear in the Wine & Spirits newsletter and on The Globe and Mail website.

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