By Rachna Jain
G’day, ladies and gentlemen. If you are a wine lover like us, there are very low chances of you not finishing a bottle you opened with friends and family. But when drinking alone, you might have felt like drinking a glass or two and wondered whether you can store the remaining wine and if you can, then for how long? There is no universal answer to this question as it depends on the type of wine and how it is stored. So, lets learn some basics of what happens to wine once it is opened and why does it spoil.
Why does an opened bottle of wine go off?
Even though decanting a bottle of wine can help open-up flavours, leaving it to be exposed to air for longer hours slowly spoil it. When you open a bottle of wine, it is exposed to air and a process called aeration begins. Slowly, the oxygen in air leads to oxidation of wine, during which the wine starts losing its flavours and aromas, making it taste flat. Also, there is a risk of acetic acid bacterial growth in open wine, which consumes the alcohol and leaves behind a vinegary smell and taste.
How to store an opened bottle of wine?
It is important to securely reseal or recork the bottle. Storing open wine at a lower temperature can help slow down the oxidization process of wine and delay spoilage. Thus, rosé, sparkling wine, and white wine must be refrigerated. Red and fortified wines can be stored in the fridge or in a cool and dark place. Now let us see how long different varieties of wine can last once opened.
Sparkling wines have carbonation to protect the wine from oxidation. However, they lose their carbonation of fizz quickly after opening. There are two popular sparkling wine production methods, which are the traditional and tank methods. The traditional method sparkling wines like Champagne and Canva have more bubbles in them and might thus last longer than tank method sparkling wines like Prosecco. Specially designed sparkling wine stopper or vacuum-seal stopper are great at slowing the speed of oxidation.
Sparkling wines can last 1-3 days in the fridge if a Champagne stopper is used to reseal the bottle to preserve the bubbles. If the wine has lost all the bubbles and is completely flat, you can use it risotto or pasta sauce.
Light White, Sweet White and Rosé Wine
Even though light white wines and rosé from a freshly opened bottle taste the best, however, they can be stored for 5-7 days in the refrigerator. You must ensure that the bottle is sealed with a stopper. A slight change in taste can be noticed as oxidization of wine occurs, which can make the wine less vibrant, but they are still a drinkable option.
Full-Bodied White Wine
Full-bodied white wines such as oaked Chardonnay and Viognier exposed to additional oxygen during the pre-bottled ageing process and thus their oxidation process is more rapid. Therefore, they can last for 3-5 days if sealed and refrigerated properly.
The tannins and natural acidity in red wines prevent them from being damaged by oxygen and thus they can last for 3-5 days. The rich, full-bodied reds such as Cabernet or Shiraz can last up to 5 days whereas, light-bodied reds such as Pinot Noir will not last that long and must be consumed within 3 days. Opened bottle of red wine must be sealed with a cork and stored in the chiller or a cool and dark place.
Fortified wines have been fortified with grape spirits, or brandy, which prevents them from being spoiled and thus extends their shelf life, but they lose their flavours more quickly due to light and heat. However, Madeira and Marsala are oxidised and cooked before being made and thus have a longer shelf life. In short, the sweeter the fortified wine, the longer it can last after being opened. If stored in the fridge or in a cool dark place, they can last for at least 28 days.
How can you check if a wine has gone bad?
To decide if an open bottle of wine is still drinkable, use the three sense: look, smell, and then taste.
Look: Pour a glass of wine and notice its colour and condition. If it has a browner colour or comes with a bit of fizz when it is not meant to, then it probably might not be worth drinking.
Smell: If the wine smells abrasive and sharp and reminds you of nail polish remover, vinegar or rotten eggs, then it has most probably gone bad.
Taste: If a wine has gone bad, it can have a sharp sour vinegar-like taste that will often burn your nasal passages.
We hope that we have calmed your nerves a little about drinking old, previously opened wine. As we have mentioned earlier, it might not taste the same, but it will not hurt you either. For longer shelf life, try to buy wines with higher tannins, alcohol, acid, and sugar and, store them correctly. And always begin by looking, smelling, and tasting any old wine. Cheers!