How to Keep Open Wine Fresh for Days

A series of wine glasses in red and white on a table, a bottle of red wine is mid pour into a glass.

The first one to say, "what's left over wine?" buys the next round. 

By Erin Henderson

One of the wine classes I enjoy teaching the most is a beginner’s series.

Despite the modest name, I truly think every wine enthusiast would find it enlightening and helpful. The subject matter is highly practical covering all the “need to knows” from properly opening a bottle of wine, to the effect of climate on the final taste, to understanding faults, to proper serving temperatures, to basics of food and wine pairing. There’s much more, but I feel I’ve made my point.

Selfishly, the students are also endless inspiration for me. After 15+ years as a working sommelier, I think sometimes I get a little too close to the forest. Their questions bring everything back in focus, reminding me of the basic tenets of wine appreciation.

At last week’s workshop, questions swirled about how long an open bottle could last, and the best way to extend that shelf life. And if anything, that’s far more useful than memorizing the slope angles of Piedmont.

extreme close up wine pouring out of a bottle

About a Week

Open bottles of wine – both red and white – will last roughly a week if tightly sealed and kept in the fridge. Perhaps seven days for white, four or five for red, if you want to get really specific.

To re-seal the bottles, simply jam the cork back in, or should that no longer fit, basic plastic wrap, as unsophisticated as it may be, works too.

The cold temperatures of the fridge will slow the wine’s oxidation, and keeping the bottle closed also prevents air from further degrading the wine.

Will it be as fresh as when you opened it? Of course not. But for most palates, the fade is so slight, it will hardly be noticeable.  

A slightly out of focus photo of a few wine glasses clinking together over a table

To Serve it Again

Take the red out of the fridge as soon as you think of it. If you are hoping to drink it immediately, decant it to speed up the process of the wine coming to room temperature (or preferably, a little under.) If you don’t have a decanter, pour out a few glasses. The small ratio of liquid-to-air will have it warm up faster.

For whites, take the bottle out of the fridge about 10 minutes before serving to get rid of the excessive chill, which only hampers the flavours.

4 wine glasses of red, white and rosé on a barrel

A Pro Tip

I’d love to take credit for this little gem, but really, I learned it from Niagara winemaker Thomas Bachelder – one of the greatest wine minds I know.

A few years ago, he recommended purchasing a few half bottles, preferably with screwcap (they’re generally the cheap ones kept in front of the cashiers.) Drink the wine, turn it into sangria, use it for cooking, whatever, but keep the bottles.

When you really only want a glass or two, and must open a full 750ml bottle, first pour the contents of the big bottle into the empty smaller bottle you’ve so wisely purchased for times such as these.

Air, over the long term, is the enemy of wine, so you’re first goal is to reduce the amount of oxygen that gets into contact with the wine.

The small bottle, when filled, reduces air contact to only the smallest fraction; the screw cap is easy to tightly close, and you have much better chances for keeping wines fresh (Thomas says up to three weeks!) than leaving the wine, half full, in the big bottle where the air-contact-to-wine ratio is greater.

Red wine being poured into a glass decanter

A Note on Gadgets

Students inevitably ask me about pumps and gasses and nozzles and fizzles. I’m not really a gadget person. A corkscrew, decanter, and glass are all I need for my general wine consumption.

If you’re a gearhead, then by all means, go to town stocking your bar with the shiniest of toys.

I did use a vacuum pump when I was a sommelier working in restaurants to seal the By The Glass bottles at the end of the shift, but, unless you’re only imbibing once or twice a month, these are just an extra expense and extra thing to add to your cabinets. Unless you really want them, you certainly can get by without them.

Hear From Real People!

I’m really pleased with how the event went. Everyone feels really happy with your incredible hosting skills and experience. We all DEFINITELY want to use The Wine Sisters again! Thank you so much!!
Thank you very much for the amazing wine tasting. We all had the most wonderful time. The wines were excellent and your presentation was very entertaining and informative.
Everything was perfect and very personalized! We still talk about experience and how nice it was. Definitely memories our family will treasure forever.
The Wine Sisters put on magnificent event in Unionville..... They did a superb job, both as Sommeliers and on the PR and overall event co-ordination ... Great job and we look forward to working with you on our event!
Everybody had a ton of fun and we very much see this structure as a template we can use with clients and friends in the future.
The unique programs and the tour we did with you was a huge success. Guests really enjoyed the afternoon!
Great energy, sense of humour and very knowledgeable! Thank you for making it an afternoon to remember!
I wanted to thank you SO much for your tutored wine tasting! It was so much fun. You were both informative and hilarious! Each person said they would definitely recommend you to anyone looking to do a wine tasting!
Wow, Emily was absolutely fantastic! She was patient, explained the wines well, and was a delight to work with.

Thank you so much for everything I will definitely use your services again.
Our guests had a great evening and Erin made sure that everyone (even non-drinkers) enjoyed themselves! Thanks for making the bridal shower so memorable!

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