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We know how it goes — you’ve cracked open a bottle of funky orange wine to try with friends or a bottle of natural wine with a nice organic meal, but you can’t quite get through the whole thing. Maybe it’s a bottle from your favorite wine club you don’t want to waste, or a birthday gift from you S.O and you’d rather not have to dump it down the drain, regardless, the good news is you don’t have to. Thankfully there are plenty of strategies and methods you can take to store wine properly and extend its shelf life for a few days, and even up to a week with certain bottles. I’ve scoured a few of my go-to wine expert sites and gathered some top tips and products for helping you preserve every last drop of your favorite blend. No matter what type of wine it is or how much is left, if you take a few extra steps to store it you’ll be able to finish off the bottle in your own time, and have it taste pretty good too. Here’s your Spy guide for how to store opened wine.
What Happens to Wine After It’s Opened?
Good question. Almost immediately, two chemical reactions take place. Acetic acid bacteria from outside the bottle start consuming and metabolizing the alcohol within the wine, turning it into acetic acid. Over time, this gives wine a vinegar-y taste and smell, and essentially turns it into vinegar. This is why old wine won’t harm you, but also won’t taste great after a while if you just leave it out.
The second reaction that takes place is oxidation. Oxygen comes into contact with the wine and causes it to lose its freshness and develop a bruised fruit/ nutty flavor. This is why it’s paramount that you form as tight a seal as possible on opened bottles of wine and limit exposure to oxygen as much as possible.
In tandem with limiting oxygen exposure is limiting the surface area of the wine that might be being exposed to oxygen. In our how to store wine piece, which focuses on corked bottles of wine, we emphasized the importance of storing unopened bottles of wine on their sides. With opened bottles, however, you want to store them upright so only a minimal amount of the wine is being exposed to the elements.
You also want to limit the wine’s exposure to light to prevent discoloration, and temperature fluctuations as they can affect the quality and taste of the wine.
How Long Do Different Types of Wine Last Once Opened?
Most wine bottles will last 3-5 days once they’re opened, but the amount of time they’ll still taste good does fluctuate between different types. Sparkling wines last the least amount of time. They’ll still be good for a day or so after opening if you use a proper wine stopper and refrigerate them, but it’s recommended you consume them the day of to get the full effect.
White wines, especially those that are highly acidic and from colder regions last longer than lower-acid whites. Lower-acid white wines will last 3-4 days whereas the higher-acid cones, in an airtight container, can last up to a week after opening and still taste relatively fresh.
Red wines can last up to five days after opening, but it depends on the concentration of tannins in the blend. Tannins are a compound naturally found in grape stems, seeds and skins, and since red wine is made with the grape skins on it’s got many more tannins than white wines do. Higher tannin wines like cabernet sauvignon, syrah and nebbiolo will last up to five days properly stored. Lower tannin red wines like pinot noir and merlot will last 3-4 days. Leftover red wine that’s passed shouldn’t be chucked right away, as it’s excellent to cook with!
Tip 1: Re-Cork and Seal the Wine Properly
Once you’ve opened the wine bottle, you should try to re-cork it between pours to minimize the amount of oxygen entering the bottle, especially if it’s a super nice bottle of wine. Inserting the cork back into the bottle works perfectly fine, just be sure you use the stained side rather than the clean side to avoid bits of cork falling in or new bacteria being introduced. You can also seal the bottle with silicone wine sealers or even wine vacuums that are extra great because they suck out the oxygen that’s inside the bottle whilst sealing it.
1. Haley’s Corker 5-in-1 Stopper
I use these stoppers with my opened wine bottles and love them. This one is actually a 5-in-1 aerator, pourer, wine filter, stopper and leaf-proof bottle seal that keeps the wine inside the bottle fresher for longer. It’s made of BPA-free, food-safe plastic and creates an airtight seal pretty easily without a ton of extra effort needed on your part. It also aerates the wine if you leave the top off, and it’s got a small filter inside that filters out sediments, tartrates and other debris as it pours.
2. Rabbit Wine and Beverage Bottle Stoppers
These wine stoppers are also made to seal bottles for freshness and have grippy tops so they’re easy to put in and take out. They fit most wine bottle neck sizes and are great for sealing soda, oil or even vinegar bottles as well. They’re made of food-grade silicone and stainless steel on the inside, and are dishwasher-safe so they’re easy to clean.
3. OWO Wine Bottle Stopper
These shiny, decorative wine bottle stoppers are also very functional, and designed to keep wine fresh up to 10 days. They’ve got a polished metal design and are made of food-grade stainless steel. They’re sized for most 750ml red and white wine bottles (which is the standard size) and come in a few different colors including metallic black, rose gold and silver.
4. EZBASICS Wine Saver Vacuum Pump
This wine pump not only seals in wine stoppers on the top of the bottle but also pumps out all the oxygen so your wine doesn’t slowly oxidize. It’s designed to keep wine flavor fresh for up to one week, and is made out of durable stainless steel that’s supposed to last longer than plastic. Each of the wine stoppers included have a ring that you can turn to mark the date and time you opened the bottle, and they’re sized for universal compatibility with wine bottles.
5. Vacu Vin Wine Saver Pump
This is another great wine vacuum pump that comes with four stoppers for sealing any bottle of wine and preserving freshness. The process is simple, you insert the stopper into the bottle and pump until you hear the click that signals that an air-tight seal has been created. It works for red or white bottles of wine and is designed to preserve your wine for up to a week after opening the bottle.
Tip 2: Minimize Air Exposure
This goes hand in hand with the first tip, but another way to do this besides sealing is minimizing the surface area of the wine that’s in contact with oxygen. You can do this by pouring the wine into a smaller, sealed container like a mason jar or half bottle of wine that’s made for storage.
6. Bedoo Wide Mouth Mason Jars Set
These large 32oz mason jars will hold a whole bunch of wine and come with leak proof lids that seal tightly using metal bands. They’re made of high-quality glass that’s resistant to breaking and all the materials they’re made of are 100% safe and lead-free. They’ve got wide mouths so they’re easy to pour into and they’re dishwasher-safe so you can cleanse them easily between uses.
7. Encheng 375ml Glass Bottle 12-Pack
Each of these glass bottles holds 375ml of wine, or half a full bottle. The rationale here is if you finish at least half a bottle of wine you can store the rest in a smaller container to minimize the exposure to oxygen, and slow the oxidation process. Each of the bottles are made of food-grade glass and come with natural cork stoppers and lids that are ultra-durable and produce an airtight seal quickly and easily. These are great for storing wine, home-brewed kombucha, beer or even sparkling water.
8. KTKUDY Electric Wine Stopper
This is a fully-automated electric, intelligent wine stopper that not only creates an airtight seal when you first put it on, but has sensors built in that’ll detect when the air pressure has dropped and drain it again. It’s designed to keep wine fresh for up to two weeks due to the reinforce seal, and it’s got lights on the front that’ll tell you when it’s sealing or when it needs a new battery. This is a great gift for a wine lover who’s always throwing away half-drunk bottles, or someone who loves all things tech.
9. Wine Squirrel Preserving Glass Decanter
This is a more technologically-advanced wine preservation system that’s both a decanter and storage device designed to minimize oxygen exposure. It makes for a functional and stylish decanter when you just want to let wine breathe or serve it, and creates an airtight seal when you’re ready to store it to prevent oxidation. You also create the seal right along the surface of the wine so the surface area of the wine being potentially exposed to the elements is greatly diminished.
Tip 3: Minimize Light Exposure
After you’ve sealed your opened wine bottle you’ll want to either store it in the fridge or in a dark, cool corner rather than a super sunny area of your house. A window sill or another part of your house that gets a lot of light, like the kitchen counter, is not ideal for opened or unopened bottles of wine. This is because direct exposure to sunlight can raise the temperature of wine inside the bottle, and cause discoloration. Store it in a cabinet, pantry or dedicated wine storage cabinet.
Tip 4: Refrigerate
Placing opened bottles of wine in the fridge is always a good idea. Fridges are darker and colder than room temperature, typically, and stay consistent temperature-wise throughout the day. We have a whole round-up of wine fridges in our how to store wine piece, and I’ve chosen a few favorites to highlight below.
10. Koolatron WC20 Thermoelectric Wine Cooler
This wine fridge has clearly displayed temperature control buttons on the front so you have full control over the environment inside, and you can turn the LED light inside on and off without opening the door. The door of the fridge is equipped with UV protection to prevent damage from sun or light exposure, and the wine racks inside can be moved around and adjusted to accommodate both opened and unopened bottles.
11. Nutrichef 12-Bottle Wine Fridge
This wine fridge has a 12-bottle capacity and has precision compressor cooling technology so the temperature stays consistent throughout the day. It’s got integrated LED lights as well as a circulation fan so there’s proper ventilation. The reinforced glass door creates an airtight seal and it’s designed to be quiet so you get cooled beverages and preserved wines without annoying buzzing. It’s also got a specialized rack on the bottom designed for bottles to sit upright on.
Tip 5: Don’t Actually Open the Bottle
One solution to having to store opened wine? Not actually opening it. It’s possible and is done at restaurants all over the country every day that don’t want to open and potentially waste their most expensive bottles just because one customer wants a glass. Coravin is a brand that specializes in a workaround device that pierces the cork with a needle so you can pour out as much as you’d like. After you’re done, the pump tops it off with argon gas to avoid oxidation and the cork is able to reseal itself naturally so the wine stays fresh. High tech, huh?
12. Coravin Model Three Advanced Wine Bottle Preservation System
This is Coravin’s standard device built to preserve wine safely and let it continue to age naturally even after you’ve drunk from the bottle. You can drink a glass without removing the cork and continue to enjoy the wine for weeks, months or years after the fact. You simply press the trigger to pressurize the bottle and then release it to allow the wine to pour out. It’s got an ergonomic handle and an angled spout so pouring is easy.