No one wants to waste a good bottle of wine. Or any bottle of wine for that matter. But there will inevitably be times when you’ve not quite finished a bottle. Understandably you may want to keep the wine for the next day, especially if it was a good bottle. But as soon as it’s opened, the wine becomes exposed to oxygen. This sets off a chain reaction, breaking down delicate flavours, softening harsh flavours and bringing out delicate fragrances. However, the length of time the wine benefits from oxidation is brief. Very soon it develops a strong vinegary taste, a clear sign the wine has gone bad. And while recorking slows down the process, oxygen has already got into your wine.
So, how can you keep wine fresh so it still tastes good?
Making your wine last longer
- Re-cork properly: The first rule of preserving your wine is to replace the cork correctly. Ignore the clean side of the cork. Use the stained side instead. That part of the cork already had exposure to the wine and tasted fine. You can buy bottle stoppers; however, many are decorative rather than functional. Choose stoppers that have a tab on the side that firmly clicks closed to seal the bottle securely.
- Decanting: Some wine drinkers choose to decant the wine from the full bottle into a spare half-bottle. Decanting into a smaller bottle just a small amount of space for oxygen between the top of the wine and slows down the chemical reaction.
- The refrigerator: When you’ve finished with the wine, firmly replace the cork. Then store the bottle upright in the fridge. Chemical reactions slow down at lower temperatures and prevents the wine from transforming into vinegar.
How long can I keep an opened bottle?
After opening, the lifespan of wine varies, depending on the type of wine. But in general, whites, roses and reds can last for around three days’ maximum, while stored in the fridge. Champagne or other sparkling wines don’t live long after opening, as the carbonation disappear very quickly when exposed to oxygen. Fortified wines like madeira, sherry and port have a longer life when opened because of their high alcohol and sugar content. Aim to finish sherry within a week of opening if stored properly in the fridge. Port lasts a little longer, but always store it in the fridge and drink within two to four weeks of opening. Madeira can last a long time if stored properly in the fridge.