How long do I have after opening a bottle of wine?

So you bought a bottle of wine at the store.  It looks good!  But what if you can’t finish it?  Is it a ticking time bomb?  Do you have to figure out whether to cut the red wire or blue wire before the whole thing explodes?

The simple answer:  it depends.  But here is how I do it.

If I am opening a bottle of white wine – just an average, everyday Pinot Grigio, for example, and I am not planning to finish it, I tend to store it in the refrigerator, tightly corked for up to a week.  I try to store my wines where they will not be jostled around too much – think, the very back of the fridge, right next to the left over lima beans.
For reds – everyday young reds, I store them in a cool, dark spot (NOT NEXT TO THE STOVE) for several days.  You can store those in the fridge too (but you want them to come up to temp before drinking them).

But WHY do wines turn?

Basically, wines react with the oxygen in the air.  Some oxygen is good (you have probably have heard of letting a wine “breathe”), but too much of a good thing, and it will start to taste like vinegar.  Once you open a bottle, the oxygen introduced will start to react with the wine.

You can slow this process down in a few ways.  If you only have a little left over, you can pour it into a smaller container, trapping less air in the bottle, and therefore getting less oxidation.  You can not bump the wine around a lot so you are not forcing it to mix with more air than necessary.  You can also cap the wine once you have poured out your serving to limit oxygen exposure.  There are also gadgets on the market that take the air out of your bottle, or replace oxygen with another gas that does not react with wine.

A word of caution though:  more delicate wines will tend to turn faster than your everyday drinking ones or ones with a lot of tannin.  So if you have ones like this, be sure you have the luxury of a drinking buddy or time to enjoy the bottle.  It would be a shame if you didn’t enjoy that to the last drop!

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