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How Long Does an Open Bottle of Wine Last?

How Long Does an Open Bottle of Wine Last?


How long does an open bottle of wine last? Around this site, about ten minutes. Just kidding. We're connoisseurs: we let the wine breathe first, then we chug it down. So ninety minutes, tops.


The more precise question is, how many days can a half-full(ish) bottle last once it's been opened? That's entirely a matter of taste. The wine doesn't simply vanish, of course, but its taste deteriorates as it chemically reacts with oxygen. Wait too long, and drinking it will ensure you a position with Monty Python's Ministry of Silly Walks.


Your best chance of making an opened wine bottle last is to reseal with an airtight bottle stopper and store it in a wine cooler or refrigerator. Next-day wine will almost certainly be good enough to serve. About three days is considered safe territory for opened wine drinkability, but if it tastes fine after three days, then hey, go for it.


Wine type can also be a factor in multi-day drinkability. Sparkling wines won't retain their sparkliness, so drink that bubbly once you've opened it. Other refrigerated whites could last a week or more and still be drinkable. Dessert wines and fortified wines such as sherry and madeira can last quite a while in some cases, e.g. weeks or even months.


There are also some tricks and technological devices that you can use to prolong drinkability - and alternative uses to which you can put a deteriorating bottle.


How to make an opened wine bottle last longer


If only those unwelcome guests who suck the air out of a room were thin enough to cap a wine bottle. That failing, buy yourself a wine bottle vacuum pump. These inexpensive, easy-to-use gadgets pump the air out of open wine bottles, creating a vacuum seal that buys you a week of wine abstention without sacrificing taste.


If you're a serious oenophile with money to burn - or wine to chill, in this case - a wine serving system is a potential option for preserving opened bottles. Companies like Enomatic and Skybar have created high-tech wine serving systems that can dispense a single glass at a time while keeping as many as 16 bottles vacuum preserved for anywhere from a fortnight to two months. It's a cool idea, but we'd rather put the wine out of its misery. Watching those bottles being slowly drained of life makes us feel like Dracula paying night calls on Mina Harker.


Gadgets aside, there are some really basic things you can do to make wine last longer. Be sure to set the bottle on its pert little bum instead of on its side. This will help minimize the surface area that's exposed to oxygen. Another trick if you don't have a vacuum pump is to decant the remaining wine into a smaller bottle - smaller bottle, less air. One Old-World trick that we don't even want to think about trying: pouring olive oil atop the wine as an oxidation barrier, and then pouring off the oil before drinking.


When life gives you vinegar …


Conventional wisdom is that bad wine becomes vinegar. It doesn't, really. Making vinegar requires special bacteria. But that doesn't mean you can't use spoiled wine as vinegar or to make salad dressing - as we say, when life gives you vinegar, make vinaigrette.


We'll give the last word to legendary food writer/cooking instructor James Peterson, and his book, Cooking. "Wine that you've had around too long and that is a bit madeirized (white) or has lost its color (red) is perfect for cooking, and in fact the defects of wine gone 'bad' can turn delicious when simmered with vegetables, meat, and herbs."



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