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How to Store Wine After Opening to Keep It Fresh Longer, According to Wine Pros

6 easy tricks so not a drop of wine — or your money — goes to waste!

So you opened a bottle of wine with dinner that you just loved and only ended up drinking one glass. We all know what happens to wine when it sits around for too long – it turns to vinegar. And a private wine company estimates that American home consumers throw away over $1.27 billion in wine annually because it no longer tastes good. That’s a lot of glasses! We’ve got expert tips on how to store wine after opening it to help your wine last longer, so you’re not pouring money down the drain — and what to do with it when it’s no longer drinkable.

How to store wine after opening

1. Recork your wine (even if the original cork doesn’t work!)

Coming into contact with air — otherwise known as oxidation — eventually turns wine into acetic acid (i.e., vinegar!). Since an increased amount of oxygen getting into the bottle will increase oxidation of the wine, causing it to go bad more quickly, the first step in keeping it as fresh as possible is to recork the bottle. “As long as the natural cork smells fine, it’s fine to use the cork that came with the bottle when trying to preserve the wine,” says Tresidor Burns, winemaker at Alexana Estate in Dundee Hills, Oregon. Reinsert the cork back into the bottle by placing the bottle on a hard surface and twisting the cork in at a slight angle until it’s a third-to-half inserted in the bottle.

Some modern corks are great for keeping wine fresh but nearly impossible to reinsert, so keep a few rubber bottle stoppers on hand for when you can’t reinsert the original cork. Even if you plan on consuming the entire bottle on the same day you open it, it’s a good idea to put the cork back in between pours to keep the wine tasting as fresh as possible.

But wait: doesn’t red wine need to “breathe“? While it’s true that little air “opens wine up” and reveals more complex flavors, keep in mind that wine begins to oxidize the minute air touches it. Most commercial wine is pretty much meant to be drunk right away; even the ones that can benefit from breathing only need to breathe for a little while. So if you don’t plan on drinking it all at once — say when you’re pouring a glass for a few people — then you should recork it between pours.

Related: How To Remove a Cork Without a Corkscrew: Wine Pros Reveal 5 Easy Options + 3 Things You Should *Never* Try

Watch Asti Wine Consultants, Ltd. demonstrate how to reinsert a wine cork:

2. Store opened wine in the refrigerator

“The enemies of wine are heat and light,” says Burns. “If you’re trying to preserve your bottle overnight or for a couple of nights, don’t put it on the counter by the stove,” he notes. “Try to keep it in the coolest, darkest place you can find.” For most of us, that’s a refrigerator. Since colder temperatures slow down the oxidation process that eventually turns wine into vinegar, storing an open bottle in the refrigerator (after recorking it!) works for both reds and whites. If you don’t want to drink your red cold, just take it out of the fridge an hour or so before serving.

Related: 18 Brilliant Uses for Wine Corks — You’ll Be Surprised at Everything They Can Do!

This video explains why to store opened wine in the fridge:

3. How to store wine after opening: Keep it out of the light

“You also want to keep wine out of sunlight,” says Dylan York, Executive Director of The Sommelier Society of American, the country’s oldest sommelier and wine education organization. Wine ages more quickly when exposed to sunlight (and therefore heat) and can develop a stewed or caramelized flavor because of it. So one of the worst places you can leave it is out on your kitchen counter in a brightly lit kitchen. That’s because UV light can cause unwanted chemical reactions that can actually make a wine taste bitter and smell unpleasant.

In this video, Bonner Private Wines explains why light is bad for your bottle:

4. Store your opened wine bottles upright

Once a bottle’s been opened, you’ll want to store it upright in the refrigerator in order to expose as little of the wine as possible to any leftover air in the bottle. Since laying the bottle on its side will increase the amount of wine that touches air and hasten oxidation of the liquid, you’ll want to avoid doing this.

5. Take the air out

“Having wine last a bit longer really comes down to protecting it from oxygen,” says Burns, “because that’s ultimately what’s going to accelerate the decline of a wine.”

You have a few options for getting the excess air out of a bottle of wine before recorking it – and for taking wine out of the bottle without ever removing the cork!

For one, home consumers can use an inexpensive hand pump that typically costs anywhere from $5 to $20 or so. You can also opt for an inexpensive inert gas can like Private Preserve to shoot the gas into the bottle, thereby forcing out the air. Then, insert the cork as quickly as possible to avoid more air getting into the bottle.

Lastly, you can purchase a Coravin, a somewhat pricey system that uses a needle to pierce the cork on an unopened bottle and shoot argon gas inside, thus displacing wine back up through the needle and into your glass. “I’ve tasted stuff that’s still fresh after 6 months or 12 months when a Coravin has been used,” says York. If you’re buying commercial wine, though, that’s meant to be drunk rather than saved, so it’s probably not necessary for the average consumer to purchase this product.

See this YouTube video on how the Coravin works:

6. Cook with it

Essentially, wine is “bad” when you no longer want to drink it, but that doesn’t mean it’s useless. Whether it’s red or white, old wine can still be used for cooking when it’s up to even a month or two old as long as it’s been stored properly. “So if it tastes like vinegar it’s time to make pot roast and a wine reduction with it,” says York. You can even pour it into an ice cube tray and save frozen cubes to flavor future soups, stews, or braises.

Related: Cozy and Comforting Slow-Cooker Mulled Wine Recipe Is Perfect For Fall Gatherings

How long will it last after opening?

According to the experts, most wines will last anywhere from two to four or five days once they’ve been opened – if you follow tips for proper storage. But how long they last also depends upon the type of wine. Here’s about how long you can expect each type to last:

Sparkling wines

Wines like cava, champagne, and other bubbly products begin to lose their fizz as soon as they’ve been opened, so it’s best to finish them up. That’s not to say they won’t last a few days in the fridge; they just won’t retain their bubbles.


“You can sometimes get four or five days out of white wines,” says York, with higher acid whites being on the longer side of that range. You’ll know a white is past its prime when it tastes “watery and flabby,” he says.

Lighter reds

how to store wine after opening: Pouring Wine in Glass
Ali Majdfar/Getty

These wines typically last only a day or two, says York, so your best bet is to drink them once you’ve opened them. Think pinot noir or grenache here.

Medium reds

“A full bodied red with a lot of acid and tannins may last a little longer than a lighter one,” says York. You’ve probably got up to about three days to drink one of these, which can include merlot and shiraz.

Heavy reds

Heavier acid, tannin-filled dark reds – think a Bordeaux or a petite syrah – may even give you an extra day or two of drinking time, lasting up to four or five days.

Port or sherry

When stored in a cool, dark place, a bottle of port or sherry can last anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks or so once it’s been opened.

How to store unopened wine

While most commercially made wine isn’t meant for saving, that doesn’t mean it has to be opened right away – and it should be stored properly even if it only cost a few dollars. Here’s how to keep your wine in top form until you’re ready for it:  

  • Keep wine cool: Whether it’s white or red, store unopened wine at around 55 degrees. Then, for reds, just let it warm up a few degrees for drinking. Long-term storage in a regular refrigerator isn’t recommended, though, as those temps can be just a bit too cold.
  • Store it properly: While open wine should be stored upright, unopened wine needs to be stored on its side. This keeps the cork moist, which prevents air from getting in and ruining the wine.
  • Keep wine in a dark place: Just like with open wine, a closed wine bottle exposed to UV light will experience degradation.
  • Keep the proper humidity: Wine corks also need some moisture in the air in order to avoid drying out and letting air into a bottle.

For more on wine, click through the links below!

18 Brilliant Uses for Wine Corks — You’ll Be Surprised at Everything They Can Do!

How to Open a Bottle of Champagne Like a Pro: Wine Experts Share the Easy Secrets

How To Remove a Cork Without a Corkscrew: Wine Pros Reveal 5 Easy Options + 3 Things You Should *Never* Try

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