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The Lifespan of Wine: Your Guide to Storing Opened Bottles

  • Written by Auzzi Shopping

Wine: a beverage as diverse as it is delicious. From the robust tannins of a Cabernet Sauvignon to the refreshing acidity of a Sauvignon Blanc, wine offers a spectrum of flavours to tantalise the taste buds. But what happens to that precious bottle once it's opened? Fear not, wine lovers! This guide will delve into the lifespan of opened wine, exploring storage techniques to ensure every sip is as delightful as the first. Whether you’re a dedicated wine club member or an occasional sipper, you’ll discover everything you need to know to avoid wasting a drop of your favourite bottle. 

Understand Your Enemy: Oxidation

The primary culprit behind wine's decline is a villain called oxidation. When exposed to air, a chemical reaction occurs, breaking down the wine's delicate flavour compounds and introducing unwanted aromas that can smell like vinegar or sometimes even wet cardboard. Factors like temperature, light exposure, and even the amount of wine remaining in the bottle all influence how quickly oxidation takes hold.

The Red vs White Divide: Storage Strategies

While oxidation affects all wines, red and white wines react differently. Reds, with their higher tannin content, generally have a longer lifespan after opening compared to their white counterparts. Here's a breakdown of storage strategies for each:

  • Reds: Once uncorked, red wines can last for 3-5 days when stored properly. Here's the key: minimise the air space in the bottle. Invest in a wine-saver pump to remove excess air, or simply transfer the leftover wine to a smaller bottle. Store reds in a cool, dark place, ideally a refrigerator.
  • Whites, Rosé, and Sparkling: These lighter-bodied wines are more susceptible to oxidation. Aim to enjoy them within 1-3 days of opening. Similar to reds, minimise air space and store them in a cool, dark environment, preferably the refrigerator. Sparkling wines are an exception. Once opened, the fizz will gradually dissipate. Consider using a special stopper designed to preserve the bubbles.

Beyond the Basics: Advanced Storage Tips

For the truly dedicated wine enthusiast, here are some additional tips to extend the lifespan of opened bottles:

  • Invest in Inert Gas: Inert gasses, like argon or nitrogen, are heavier than air and displace oxygen in the bottle. These specialised tools can further slow down oxidation.
  • Consider a Wine Preserver System: Some systems use vacuum pumps to remove air from the bottle, creating a near-airless environment that can significantly extend a wine's lifespan.
  • Temperature Matters: While a cool environment is generally recommended, storing certain wines at slightly warmer temperatures can enhance their flavours. For example, full-bodied reds might benefit from being removed from the fridge 30 minutes before serving.

Beyond Storage: Reviving a Slightly Oxidised Wine

Even with the best storage methods, a wine might oxidise earlier than expected. Then, of course, there are those occasions when you forget and leave a bottle in the fridge too long. Here's a simple trick that can sometimes revive a slightly oxidised red wine:

Decanting Oxidised Wine 

Decanting involves transferring the wine from the bottle to a carafe, leaving any sediment behind. This can help aerate the wine slightly, softening some of the harsh oxidised aromas. However, keep in mind that decanting won't work miracles – a heavily oxidised wine is probably best enjoyed in a hearty stew!

The Bottom Line

Knowing how to store opened wine empowers you to fully enjoy every bottle you purchase. By understanding the principles of oxidation and employing the storage techniques outlined above, you can ensure every sip, from the first to the last, is a delightful experience. So, raise a glass to good storage practices and the continued enjoyment of this versatile beverage!