Keeping Wine Fresh after Opening: 8 Best Ways to Store Unfinished Wines
This article answers all of your questions about how to keep wine fresh after opening. We cover 8 preserving techniques, wine expiration, and more.
Wines only last for a certain period after opening. As a wine drinker (or beginners to wine), you will find storing unfinished wines extremely important to prevent them from going to waste.
Are you living alone, leading a busy life, or not having anyone to enjoy wine with? Then mastering the art of storing wine is a life-changing skill! I know how tragic it was for you when letting it go to waste when you were not able to finish it in one go! In the next sips you took, it just tasted flat, stale, and insipid!
I understand it so well because I failed several times. I was a beginner to wine and not yet prepared for the wine storing skill. My emotions evaporated just as fast as the wine’s flavors.
And that’s the reason why I write this article to help you avoid my mistake!
How can we store our wines and not let it go to waste when we cannot finish it at once? Let’s embark on this ultimate guide! We will take you through TWO main topics:
How long does wine last?
8 techniques to preserve different kinds of wine
Let’s dive right in!
Does Wine Go Bad After Opening?
Any kind of wine will turn bad if not stored properly after being opened, regardless of the price. On average, a bottle of wine can stay up to five days but it varies a lot depending on a certain type of wine (I will dig deeper into the validation of each type of wine at the end of the article, so stay tuned!).
Wine has a few enemies coming from the surrounding environment. One of the worst enemies is oxygen. Oxygen is filled in the air and it can interact with the wine right immediately after you open it.
However, oxygen is not always a bad friend to wine. A controlled amount of oxygen during the aging process is beneficial for the wine to develop and age gracefully. It also softens the level of tannins and increases the complexity of the flavor. Oxygen is only bad for wine if you don’t know how to manage the timing effectively. Leaving the wine open to the air for too long will surely lead to negative consequences.
So the key is to minimize the amount of oxygen that interacts with the surface of the wine and stop it from oxidizing the juice. Oxygen turns wine into vinegar. So no matter what technique you use, all that matters is protecting the wine from exposure to the air and keeping it fresh.
In addition to oxygen, light and heat are other greatest threats that your wine has to encounter.
In the following section, we reveal 8 different methods to store your wine and prolong its validation.
How to Keep Wine Fresh after Opening: 8 Best Techniques That Never Go Wrong
Recork the Wine As Soon As You Can
Recorking has a lot to do with the air. If you know you cannot finish the wine in one go, don’t let it sit open either in the fridge or on the table! Cover it with the screw cap or shove the cork in instantly after each pour! This is the easiest and quickest way to minimize air exposure.
Oxygen is not always bad for wine if you know how to use it correctly. It allows the wine to open up and from there release the aromas to your nose. Oxidation happens when the wine breathes for a longer period. It degrades it and turns it into vinegar instead of the “nectar of God”.
Store Your Unfinished Wine in Lim or Dark Light
As I said earlier, light is another factor that affects the quality of fresh wine. Accordingly, you have to lessen the exposure to light! The easiest way you can do is to keep the wine bottle in a dark space like a cellar. Keep it away from the reach of natural sunlight because the light can heat the bottle up, and accordingly speed up the oxidation process.
Be mindful of the common space such as around the windows, in the front yard, or somewhere outdoor. This method allows the cooler and more humid conditions to replace the heat, as well as stopping the UV rays from degrading the wine and resulting in unpleasant flavors. That’s also the reason why you see many red wines come in dark color bottles. Meanwhile, white wines are usually drunk fairly young and stored cold. That’s why bottling whites with darker glass is not necessary.
Therefore, in cases the mandatory use of the light is required, you must go for an LED. That’s the best way to allow you to enjoy your wine without heating the bottle.
Keep It Refrigerated
The third method I would like to share is refrigerating. Many friends of mine are beginners in wine. And they usually come to ask me: “Do you refrigerate wine after opening or just let it open?”
Every single time, I come back with one answer only: “Yes, and do it fast, or you will spoil it!”.
Once again, refrigerating wine is the cure for oxidation. It slows down the oxidation progress with cool temperatures. The most ideal scenario is having a wine fridge in your house and setting it around 12 Celsius degrees, which is not deep cold as in a regular freezer.
Even though a normal kitchen refrigerator doesn’t come with an optimal condition for storing wine, you don’t have to break the bank for a top-notch wine cellar or wine fridge. Because at the end of the day, we only need a bottle or a few glasses to cheer ourselves up before bedtime.
Just remember to keep it dark, cool, and still! The basic wine storage rules are humidity and consistent temperatures. If you can manage these criteria, you’re good to go!
Decant It into Smaller Bottles
Decanting a wine simply means bottling it into smaller containers. The smaller the containers, the less oxidation your wine goes through.
The most ideal size for a decanting bottle is from 150ml to 375 ml. This method is a simple practice that helps you reduce the ratio of air to wine in the bottle.
Inert Gas into the Juice
This high-tech approach replaces the oxygen inside the bottle and creates a protective sheet on the surface of the wine. You can use Argon or other types of gas mixtures. Argon is non-reactive and denser than oxygen, which is a great shield to prevent the wine from being oxidized.
Remember to recork tightly and as fast as possible after spraying the gas into the bottle. Afterward, put your wine into a refrigerator in an upward position. You can find Argon gas at a wine store, chemistry equipment store or online. Remember to let the sellers know that you will be using Argon gas for storing wines just in case they give you the wrong type of gas.
Use a Vacuum Pump
Another method that features an understanding of technology is using a vacuum pump. Vacuum pumping works in reverse with inserting gas.
So instead of spraying gas into the bottle, you will suck out the air from the ullage in the open bottle. This will take away the oxygen inside the wine.
A vacuum pump includes a stopper. And what you need to do is to insert the stopper into the bottle, connect the pump with the stopper to start removing oxygen.
The vacuum pumps are affordable and easy to use, so many people prefer this choice over the others. However, some people believe that vacuum pumps negatively affect the flavor of the wine. While some say it cannot suck out 100% of the air, which causes the seal to leak over the time.
If you have a bottle of white wine, consider going for other techniques as the experts advise not to use vacuum pumps for white wines.
Use a Wine Stopper
Wine stoppers are the best alternative for cork. If you happen to throw the cork away or somehow cannot put the original cork back on the bottleneck, use a wine stopper instead!
They are usually made of plastic or medals with lovely designs and create an air-tight seal.
I recommend a stopper with a soft flange near the top. If you cannot find it in a regular store, try looking for it in a wine store or buy online instead. If you have a bottle of sparkling wine, there are also stoppers made specifically for this kind of wine!
Use a Wine Shield
The last option to keep your wine fresh after opening is using a wine shield. A wine shield is a circular and flexible lid. It floats on the surface of the wine to keep it fresh and perform well for the next few days.
Inside the disc are some air bubbles that help it float. What you need to do is place the disc through the bottleneck, put it atop the wine surface, and let it stay intact.
You don’t have to take the disc out every single time you drink. Let it stay there until the last drops, and freely pour the juice into the glass! This method is widely used by the bars and restaurants as it’s easy, convenient and doesn’t change the structure and aromas of the wines.
How to Store Champagne and Other Sparkling Wines After Opening?
To store Champagne and other sparkling wines, you need to keep in mind some specific requirements. This type of wine comes with a delicate nature. That’s the reason why you cannot put them in the fridge for longer than a few days after opening.
The cool temperature inside the fridge will dry things out. And in this scenario, it will dry the cork of the wine bottle. That's the worst consequence that any wine lover is bothered with. The dried cork will result in the releasement of carbonation, which accordingly changes the flavor of the drink.
So remember to keep Champagne away from low temperature. You can only store your unfinished Champagne in the fridge if you plan to drink within 2 days. The sooner you re-use it, the better!
Compared to Champagne, other sparkling wines can stand the low temperature of the fridge for a longer time.
An ultimate solution apart from the temperature business is using a Champagne bottle stopper. This simple mechanism is very affordable. All you need to do is press the stopper firmly over the opening and hook the arms. To open it, press down the center of the stopper and lift the arms until it pops.
How Do You Know If Your Wine Has Gone Bad or Not?
I want to include this question as I think that it’s a crucial knowledge when we talk about keeping wine fresh. The purpose of storing wines is to lessen the spoiling process.
So in order to tell if your wine has gone bad or not, pay attention to the color of the wine!
For red wines, it turns bad only when you see a brown hue formed on the ring of the surface. This sign informs you that the juice is past its prime.
For white wines, the color turns to a darker shade or a deeper yellow hue to brownish straw when the juice is badly oxidized. Upon tasting, all you can feel is the astringent and chemically flavor on the palate.
A good wine always comes with a fruit-forward note. And when you detect no fruity flavor but only a raspy, astringent or stale flavor, it’s already spoiled.
How Long Does Your Wine Last?
One of the biggest reasons why I love sharing about wines is the diverse origin of the wines, which make them so mysterious to fully understand. Wines have so many styles and they come from so many different regions across the planet. And that’s why we have no single answer for how long does a wine last!
In this section, I list down the validation of the most basic and common type of wine that you will see in a wine store: white wines, red wines, rosé, sparkling, and fortified wines.
First of all, let’s scan through THREE important rules that I have tested and discovered so far:
Premium wines usually last longer than the more low-cost ranges, even though it’s not always the case.
Subtle wines such as Pinot Noir need to be consumed quickly despite their price ranges.
New World wines with a more tremendous fruity flavor tend to last longer than the Old World wines.
Older wines never last long after being opened, unless they are fortified.
That’s about it! Let’s go over the duration of the primary categories of wines:
How Long Do Red Wines Last?
Lighter-bodied reds are made of the delicate varietals such as Pinot Noir. They tend to fade quickly, especially after being opened. Therefore, you need to consume it within 3 days. The best way to store light-bodied red wines is to decant it into smaller bottles.
Fuller-bodied reds have a higher level of tannins. Therefore, they can last longer while still being able to preserve the solid power of the flavors. Full-bodied reds can be stored up to 5 days compared to lighter-bodied reds.
How Long Do White Wines Last?
Light-bodied whites that are little or not aged in oaked can last up to 5 days. Those bottles that come with a screw cap will last even longer as the screw cap allows less oxygen into the bottle to interact with the juice.
Fuller-bodied white wines will last from 2 to 3 days. Those whites that are fermented in oak need to be consumed sooner than those without the oaked process.
How Long Do Sparkling Wines and Champagne Last?
Champagne and other kinds of sparkling wines last from 1 to 3 days.
The sparkling wines that are made by the traditional crafting method preserve their effervescence longer than the ones fermented in tanks. The traditional sparkling wines refer to the bubbles made in the bottles that are sold.
One thing you need to know is that even though the floating bubbles have mostly escaped, the taste is still pleasant. If you want to keep the bubbles intact, don’t hesitate to invest in a sparkling wine stopper. This tool will close around the bottleneck and keep the bubbles in. You don’t want a cork or a normal wine stopper because it ejects unexpectedly to the Carbon dioxide and results in injuries.
How Long Does Róse Last?
This type of rosés has a similar validation as light-bodied whites, and so it can stay fresh for up to 5 days. Blush and off-dried rosés last up to 7 days. Dry rosés of darker color and stronger fruit intensity can be stored up to 4 or 5 days.
How Long Do Fortified and Sweet Wines Last?
Fortifying a wine is the best way to keep them last for the longest time compared to other categories. You can store fortified wines and sweet wines from 2 days up to several years. This type of wine is considered high-quality and known as one of the most age-worthy wines.
The main reason why they last for such a long time is because of the high content of alcohol that resists oxidation. Amongst the world of fortified wines, Ports are the one that needs to be consumed sooner, within 3 days. They are Vintage Ports and Sherry, like Fino and Manzanilla. Fortified wines that last for the longest time amongst them all are Madeira. Madeira is aged before they are bottled.Sweet wines can stay within a week or two if you store them properly.
Storing unfinished wines seems easy but it can go wrong anytime if you lack the basic knowledge. This article has just provided a detailed guide about keeping wine fresh after opening that covers tips and tricks for the most common wines in the world. If you need further assistance, chat with our experts at Vietnam Cellar right away! We will answer all of your questions about wines with a snap of a finger!