Many folks who are fond of leaving their wine unfinished often wonder if their nice bottle of wine would go bad after it must have been opened. Most times, they think that if they fail to finish the content in the bottle the same day it was opened then it wouldn’t be safe to drink anymore.



Unfortunately, there isn’t any straight (yes or no) answer as to how long wine can be kept open as it largely depends on the type of wine and the condition in which it was exposed. As a matter of fact, it’s impossible to give a hard out on all wines as they can be made in so many different ways. While some are made last for only about three to five days (as is the case with most table wines), others are built to sit on wine store shelves for months and even years (as with most fortified wines).


Technically, oxidation makes wines develop sourly and vinegary tastes after they have been opened and left unfinished for a certain number of days. Generally, wine becomes oxidized once it comes in contact with air molecules. As a result, it tends to lose its flavor as it turns bitter and sour. This form of change can also impact its appearance.


Fortified Wine


With their corks on, fortified wines can stay for about 28 days in a cool dark place. They tend to have a longer shelf life when enhanced with brandy. When exposed to light and heat, these wines often tend to lose their vibrant flavors and brightness. Only Marsala and Madeira wines can keep forever after being exposed to air because they are already cooked and oxidized. As a matter of fact, it’s best to keep fortified wine stored in the fridge.


Red Wine


Red wine tends to last longer after opening especially when it contains more tannin and acidity. This type of wine can last 3-5 days when kept in a cool dark place with a cork. Unlike the Petite Sirah, a Pinot Noir wine won’t be able to last any longer because it contains very little tannin. After the first day of open, there are certain red wines that have the ability to improve. Advisably, it is good to store open wines in a dark cool place or even in a chiller. Rather than allowing the wine sit out in a 21oC room, it is better to refrigerate it especially if you do not have a chiller.


Full-bodied White Wine


Most full-bodied white wines are often exposed to more oxygen during their pre-bottling aging process thereby making them oxidize even more quickly. Wines like Viognier and oaked Chardonnay tend to last longer after opening. Be sure to keep them corked at all times even in the fridge. It’s also recommendable to invest in a vacuum caps. 


By: Blake Smith