How long does wine last?

How long wine lasts is strongly dependent on the type of wine. A day or two extra is actually beneficial for certain types. Where to start?

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How long wine lasts is strongly dependent on the type of wine. A day or two extra is actually beneficial for certain types. Where to start?

Let’s kick-off with some theory (I’ll keep it short). What happens to wine after you open it?

Oxidation

Shockingly (not really) enough, it all starts with oxygen. After opening the bottle, the wine touches fresh air for the first time since its bottling. This contact with oxygen causes oxidation: a chemical process that eventually causes wine to transform into vinegar.

An important protection from oxidation is tannic acid, better known as tannins. This natural anti-oxidant basically serves as a protective layer in the wine that limits the potential of oxidation.

A little blunt, but red wines have more tannins than white wines. This is caused by the different fermentation process: for red wines the entire grape is used during the fermentation. Tannins are mainly located in the pits and peels, hence 1+1 is also here, just 2.

Another factor is the amount of exposure to oxygen during the fermentation process itself. We know the extreme ones such as Madeira or some sherry’s. But also oak-aged Chardonnays have a lot more exposure than the prosecco’s and pinot grigio’s of this world. Limited, but constant, exposure to oxygen causes an intense coloring of the wine and the development of complex aroma’s.

But relevant for you, since you’ve come this far: wines that had more exposure during their creation, generally take contact with oxygen after opening better.

Preservation

Bon, on to the most important point. In the unlikely event that you don’t finish a bottle at once, there are some general guidelines as to how long it can last. Note, wine is not an exact science (hence it’s beauty if you ask me) so take it as a rough guideline.

White

Young, fruity whites should be devoured between 1-2 days, whereas fuller ones can last a day longer (2-3 days).

Red

Easy riders, fruity type of reds (short fermentation, no oak, little tannins, that sort of jazz) generally last 1-3 days.

On the other hand, full bombastic reds with a lot of (hard) tannins and a little to young to drink could benefit from 3-5 days opening.

Bubbles

The real question is: why would you not finish this one at once? Anyways, sparking wine and oxygen are very much not a match made in heaven. In fact, the sparkle exists by the grace of absent oxygen. That’s deep right.I know, but more so: don’t keep it open for more than one day!

Sealing/closing your bottle is especially important here, there’s plenty of gadgets on the market that suck out the oxygen and thereby prolong the lifespan of your bubbly (by a bit…).

Lastly

A common misconception is that the older the wine, the longer it can last after opening. It might as well be the opposite in fact! During the maturation in the bottle, tannines are breaking down naturally. This protective layer is therefore getting thinner and thinner. When you open the bottle, this is quite a shock for the wine! Hence, drink it swiftly (good excuse right?). Cheers!

Ps. did you like this trivia and want to learn more about the wonderful world of wine? Check out the the Wicked practice exams in our shop!

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