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Cracking a bottle and keeping it

wine fridge

Question from Emily: How long can I keep a bottle of open wine for?

In a nut shell: Without going into the detail I’m going to say you’ve got three days but it all depends on how you’re preserving the wine. With a few handy tricks you can keep it for around five days (max).

In a clam shell: Initially, when you crack a bottle of wine, oxygen is a good thing. It softens the flavours and opens up the aromas of the wine (and that’s why we decant wine) but then things start to get ugly. As oxidation continues the wine begins to taste unpleasant, losing fresh fruit flavours until it ultimately turns into vinegar.

Oxidation occurs quicker when more of the wine’s surface area is in contact with oxygen so the key is to the limit the amount of oxygen that interacts with the wine.

There are a heap of wine preservation devices on the market that either suck the air out of an opened bottle or squirt inert gas in but most of them are pretty useless. Using one of these preservation systems is better than using nothing at all but if it’s going to cost you more than a few dollars I wouldn’t bother.

I’d stick to my method of preserving wine which won’t cost you a cent. Firstly, make sure you store your opened bottle in the fridge (that goes for red wine too). Like anything that’s perishable, wine lasts longer in the fridge.

Secondly, limit the amount of surface area in contact with the air. The best DYI way to do this is to pour your leftover wine into an empty plastic soda/mineral water bottle, squeeze all the air out and then screw the lid on and pop it in the fridge. By doing this you are sucking out most of the oxygen that would otherwise be in contact with the wine which will preserve it for longer.

If you can do this then your wine should last around five days but that’s not a guarantee – it also depends on the wine.

What wines keep for the least amount of time?

  1. Light red wine varieties like Pinot Noir, Grenache, Sangiovese and Nebbiolo.
  2. Old wine – please drink aged wine immediately! It’s been sitting in a barrel and bottle for years and has already been in contact with oxygen (oak barrels and corks are porous so oxygen creeps in). Even a few hours with an 8+ year bottle exposed to oxygen could kill it.
  3. Organic wines don’t have the preservatives of ordinary wines so they’ll fall over quick smart.

I know I said you could keep your wine for five days if kept in the fridge but given that different wines oxidise at different rates my rule is three days (if I’ve kept it in the fridge) and even less if it’s been kept on the bench at room temperature (it’s very rare that wine gets to the three day old mark anyway in our house).

The ultimate wine drinking rule – it’s personal. What tastes great to you might taste terrible to me and vica versa so if after five days, you think the wine taste delish well then drink up. Why let it go to waste just because I’m not a fan?!? But if it doesn’t taste right to you it’s probably not so save it for cooking.

PS if you want to read more about oxygen and its effect on wine click here.

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