Despite the fact that I love all things wine and enjoy visiting new wineries for a tasting, at home I'm honestly not much of a drinker. As a result, no matter how much I LOVED that bottle of wine at the wine tasting, it's likely that it will be weeks or even months after I come home that it will be opened. Even once opened, sadly there are too many bottles that have gone to waste. I know that I'm not alone in this challenge though, so I thought it might be time to share some wine wisdom. Hopefully this helps save precious wine from being wasted!
How Long Will Unopened Wine Last?
This is a question that comes up pretty often and the short answer is that the shelf life of wine depends on the type of wine, original packaging, and how you store it. For instance, fine red wines from a sturdy varietal with excellent bottling and corking can last for decades when placed horizontally in a climate-controlled wine cellar where the cork is able to avoid drying out. When stored in a typical residential pantry, white wines will last 1-2 years while red wines will last 2-3 years. These expiration dates are relative though and different varietals may last longer or shorter periods of time before going bad.
How Long Will Wine Last Once Opened?
Again here, red wines are much more stable but when placed in a refrigerator and re-corked, white wines will typically still be good for 1-3 days while red wines might last as long as two weeks. You can give the wine the best chance at surviving by practicing proper hygiene such as ensuring that the cork is not contaminated when you place it back.
Additionally, make sure that the cork itself is intact and hasn't broken apart. You can also extend the lifespan of your wine once opened, by using a product called zzysh. Zzysh is a wine and sparkling wine preserving system that keeps a bottle’s natural taste and fizz after it is opened. The unique technology replaces the air in the bottle with a protective atmosphere consisting of inert gas argon for wine and a combination of argon and carbon dioxide for sparkling wine. This in combination with the stopper, works to protect the wine and sparkling wine from oxidation, ensuring flavor, taste, color and fizz are all retained. When used properly, this allows you to open and reseal the bottle multiple times over the course of weeks.
How Can You Tell if Wine Has Gone Bad?
Without tasting the wine, you can tell if it has gone bad by examining it visually as well as smelling it. For instance, does the liquid look cloudy, have excess sediment, or an uneven consistency. From an olfactory perspective, you will be looking for any odor that might not be normal but especially a vinegar smell. As with any food that might have spoiled, the old adage, "when in doubt, throw out!" applies here as well. However, I still keep bottles of red wine that are past their prime by my stove for use in deglazing pans after cooking.
How Can Best Store Wine To Last Longest?
Short of having a cellar in your house, the next best option (and honestly the technology is probably more superior) is a wine cooler. A good wine cooler cabinet will be able to help you maintain the bottles on their side so the cork doesn't dry out, as well as staying at the correct temperature and light levels. UV light and heat are the enemy of alcohol and wine is no different. If you don't have a wine cooler or a closed wine cabinet, try to keep the bottles out of direct sunlight. You might even consider wrapping the bottle in a towel to protect it.
Constant temperature is also essential and this is where modern wine coolers are superior to classic underground cellars. Storage temperature should never exceed 70ºF and ideally should be maintained at a constant 55ºF. While red wines are generally more stable than white ones and can last much longer when properly cared for, ironically, they are also more susceptible to changes in temperature. Because of this the temperature should never fluctuate more than a couple degrees each day.
Finally, don't move the wines unless you need to. This includes moving bottles to reach one that you want to drink. My wine cooler at home has individual trays so that I can rest bottles on different shelves without having to stack them so I can avoid disturbing them.
How To Store Wines Once Opened?
In general, once you've unsealed the bottle, the clock starts ticking but there are things you can do to extend the life once you've opened the bottle. Make sure to save the cork when you opened the bottle and re-seal the bottle with it the best you can, or use a wine preservation system like Zzysh. Then you will want to place white wine back in your wine cellar or refrigerator, but do not place the bottle on its side as you want to avoid having the cork come in direct contact with the wine. The same principles that are critical to an unopened bottle still apply here such as temperature, light, and movement. Red wine though is much more stable once re-corked and does not need to be placed back in the cellar, though you will want to keep it in a cool, dark place.