How Long is Red Wine Good For After Opening?
Anish Patel @ 2022-01-13 06:53:08 -0800
If you’ve ever poured yourself a glass of last week’s red wine only to find that it smelled strongly of vinegar, you’ve learned a valuable lesson. Red wines simply don’t last as long as white wines.
Wine does go stale—and in its own unique way. But all reds are not made alike, and knowing the levels of tannin, acidity, and how the wine was made will tell you exactly how long you have before that bottle goes bad.
In addition to knowing these key factors, there are a few things that you can do to ensure that your wine stays fresh for as long as it possibly can.
In this guide, we’re going to tell you exactly how long your bottle of red wine will keep, how to know which ones will last longer than others, and what you can do to avoid pouring yourself a glass of stale wine a week from now.
What’s the average time a red wine bottle will stay good?
In short, your red wine will last for 2 to 5 days after you open it. When you open your bottle of wine for the first time, it gets exposed to oxygen. This initial exposure is actually good for the wine, especially if the wine is on the younger side.
A blast of oxygen helps to open the wine up so that you can smell its signature aromas, whether that be chocolate, coconut, tobacco, cedar, forest floor, mushrooms, or smoke.
This is also why younger wines tend to like being decanted. Decanting wine allows for optimal oxygen exposure. The trick is drinking it all within the right window before all of that oxygen starts to backfire.
Why does red wine go bad?
If you’re wondering why red wine starts to go bad so quickly, think about the last time you bought fresh fruit. Fruit ripens, reaches its optimal window for eating, and then slowly begins to go bad. Wine follows the same pattern.
Within 24 hours of opening, your wine will start to change. How quickly it changes depends on tannin levels, acidity in the wine, and how many preservatives are added to the wine.
As it begins to suffer from overexposure to oxygen, you’ll notice that your red wine loses its signature fruit flavors and begins to taste muted. Soon, it will take on the smell and taste of vinegar. You may notice only a whiff of vinegar one day and then a complete noseful the next.
At this point, the wine has really lost its character and is too oxidized to enjoy.
Finally, your wine’s color will change. A ruby-red wine will begin to brown. You’ll see this if you pour a small glass and hold it over a white sheet of paper in good light. Think about how a freshly cut apple will turn brown if you leave it on the counter overnight. The same thing happens to your wine!
That being said, your wine is still safe to drink even after it has “gone bad.” It just won’t taste as good.
Now that you know why your bottle of red wine lasts about 2 to 5 days after it’s opened, let’s look at the reasons some red wines spoil quicker than others.
Reason #1: Added SO2 in your wine.
Sulfur dioxide is added to wine to stabilize it. If the wine is exposed to oxygen during production, the winemaker may add sulfur to prevent the oxygen from interacting with it.
Natural wines labeled “organic wine” don’t have any added sulfur. This is because adding SO2 can undermine the nuances of a great wine. Taking careful measures to protect the wine in other ways protects the complexity of the flavor profile.
However, wines without SO2 will oxidize quicker. You’ll want to enjoy those bottles the day you open them; they may not last until tomorrow. The good news is that these tasty wines are meant to be shared—you should be able to finish them easily!
Conventional wine, on the other hand, has higher levels of added SO2. While this may mute some of the aromas of the wine, it will likely last a few more days when stored properly.
Reason #2: Tannin levels affect freshness, too.
Wine with higher levels of tannins will stay good for longer. Tannins are naturally occurring compounds found in red and orange wines. They grow on the skins, seeds, and stems of the grapes. White wines don’t contain tannins because these parts of the grape are removed before the wine is made.
Red wine is fermented with the skins still present. The grape skins give the wine its rich color and tannins. Tannins are antioxidants, which is what gives red wine its shiny, heart-healthy reputation. But they’re also preservatives, protecting the wine from oxidation longer than wines with lower levels of tannins.
All red wines have tannins, but some have higher tannin levels than others. These wines, if stored properly, will last closer to 4-5 days. Here is a list of wines with the highest tannin levels:
-Cotes du Rhone
Red wines with low levels of tannins include:
Wines made from these grapes will oxidize quicker, within 2-3 days.
Reason #3: Acidity helps keep your wines fresh.
Higher levels of acidity keep your wine protected from oxygen interaction for longer, too. Acidity develops in the grapes as they ripen on the vine, and grapes grown in cooler climates have higher levels of acidity. With warmer temperatures, grapes develop more sugar and acidity levels drop.
Acidity is also a preservative. White wines are always more acidic than reds, and that’s why white wines last a little longer.
Red wines with high acidity are made from the following grapes:
Red wines with lower acidity levels include:
-Cotes du Rhone
As you can see, some wines are lucky—they have high levels of tannin and acidity. Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah are a few of these blessed vines. Red wine made from these grapes will have the best chance of lasting all the way to day 5 with proper storage.
How do I make my red wine last longer?
Storage makes all the difference when it comes to making your red wine taste fresh for 5 whole days.
First, keep the cork on that bottle in between glasses. Every second counts once your wine is opened. If you’re really banking on your wine being there for you in the coming days, keep it sealed between glasses.
Purchase an inexpensive vacuum pump with reusable stoppers for overnight storage. The vacuum pulls excess oxygen out of the bottle, which prolongs oxidation overnight to help your wine stay fresh for longer.
Store light wines with lower tannin levels in the refrigerator. This protects your wine from heat and even oxygen exposure to an extent. Plus, you may find that some of your wines are really tasty with a little chill on them. It’s not an uncommon practice to throw a Pinot Noir or Grenache in the fridge before opening it. Why not after, too?
At the very least, store your wine in a cool area of your kitchen, away from sunlight. This will keep it from spoiling due to heat damage.
Don’t throw your wine down the drain!
Did you leave your red wine a little too long? It happens to the best of us. Before you pour it down the drain, consider repurposing it into a wine-based cocktail.
The most popular choice is probably Sangria, a traditional Spanish cocktail—but if you really want to drink like the locals, make Tinto de Verano, an easy cocktail made with red wine, lemon soda, and ice.