Shelf Life of Opened Wine

A Quick Look at the Shelf Life of an Opened Bottle of Wine

Once a bottle of wine has been opened it must be consumed as soon as possible as its shelf life is very low. Wine is an expensive beverage and seeing it get spoiled for no reason whatsoever will not go down well with many people across the world.
Tastessence Staff
Last Updated: Mar 6, 2018
Wine is an exotic alcoholic beverage made of fermented grape juice. The composition of grape juice is such that it does not require any additional sugar, acid, or enzyme to aid in the fermentation process. Depending on the variety of wine that is being produced, different types of grapes and different varieties of yeast are used for the fermentation process.
Oxidation of Wine
It is true that wine can be stored for many years at a stretch to improve their taste and aroma. Connoisseurs are able to rattle off names and years of vintage varieties from the tip of their tongues. The biggest disadvantage though is their low shelf life, once they are opened. In comparison to other alcohols, the shelf life of an opened bottle of wine is much much lesser. The reason is the process of oxidation that occurs when it is exposed to air.
As soon as the bottle is opened, the space that exists between the bottle neck and the liquid is filled with air. This 'intrusion' by air is an unavoidable phenomenon, and the oxygen that is present in this air then mixes with the wine and causes the process of oxidation to occur. Completely oxidized wine is not potable.
Shelf Life - Red and White Wine
The shelf life also depends on the type of wine. Red and white wines are completely different from each other, in taste, aroma, alcoholic content, and richness, so it goes without saying that their shelf lives will also differ from one another.
It is widely believed that once a bottle of red wine has been opened, it should be consumed within 24 hours, or one day, of doing so. There are certain varieties that can also be consumed within 36 hours, but the risk of it getting spoiled is very high. On the other hand, the shelf life for white wine is slightly higher. It is generally agreed upon the fact that white wine can be consumed within 72 hours, i.e., 3 days, since the time it has been opened.
Storing an Opened Bottle
The storage of such a bottle will not be for long, as shelf life is extremely short, but to ensure that the wine tastes the same for a longer period of time, it must be stored appropriately.
The first question that comes to mind is obviously "should opened wine be refrigerated?", and the answer to this question is yes. Like all other food stuffs, a bottle of wine must also be refrigerated. The lower temperatures inside refrigerators ensure that the oxidation process and other chemical reactions, occur at a lower speed. This does not greatly increase the shelf life, but it helps along the way.
Acetic bacteria are tiny microscopic organisms that convert the wine into vinegar once the bottle has been opened and has come into contact with the air. The functioning and effectiveness of this bacteria is also hindered by refrigerating the bottle. When you refrigerate the opened bottle, remember to push the cork back inside the bottle as well.
Storing opened bottles of wine beyond 2-3 days is not a good idea. In most cases, you will end up spoiling the wine, and even if it has not been spoiled entirely, its taste will be completely different from what it is meant to be.
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