How Long Does an Open Bottle of Wine Keep?
“How long does an open bottle of wine keep?” is a common question among our clients and wine course candidates. As with everything regarding wine, the answer is, “It depends!” Light, inexpensive, aromatic white, rosé and sparkling wines have the shortest lifespan once opened. Just one day after opening, most wines like this will have lost much of their freshness and aromatic profile. Robust young red wines, however, can handle a few days in an opened bottle and will sometimes even improve. Below are some suggestions on how to slow down the damaging oxidation process, which starts as soon as the cork is removed. We also introduce the revolutionary solution whereby one can serve a glass of wine without removing the cork at all - the fantastic invention that is the Coravin!
All chemical reactions, including oxidation, are slower at low temperatures, so keeping the bottle cool is a good first step. Low temperatures also make life difficult for various bacteria, such as the acetic acid bacteria that eventually turn wine into vinegar. There are, however, more efficient solutions than simply keeping your wine in the fridge.
Instead of just putting the cork back into the original bottle when half full it is advisable first to decant it to a smaller container, minimising the ratio of oxygen to wine. Some argue that by decanting the wine into a second bottle, the wine is exposed to oxygen and that there is no advantage of doing it. This depends on the wine being decanted.
Another way of preserving wine is by using a vacuum pump. This is a simple device that creates a vacuum in the bottle. Unfortunately, it can also suck some aromatics out of the wine. Some wine experts claim the use of a vacuum pump leaves the wine somewhat flat, while others find it to be a good solution for a few days. In my experience, it does increase the holding capacity of the wine, but I recommend to keep it for no longer than three to four days. These pumps are widely available in supermarkets and wine shops.
The Coravin is a truly revolutionary tool, and it is highly recommended that all yachts have one on board. The Coravin technology has changed the way wine lovers around the world can enjoy their rare bottles. It is now fully possible to serve Pétrus by the glass to demanding charter guests and then serve from the same bottles to another charter a few months later!
The concept was invented by Greg Lambrecht, who wanted to be able to open several bottles in the same evening without having to drink everything or throw it down the sink. “My dream was to magically pour wine from bottles without ever pulling the cork. The remaining wine could then go back in my cellar so that I could enjoy it again, whenever I desired.” The ability to serve a glass of wine without opening the bottle sounds too good to be true, but this little gadget makes it possible.
Instead of opening the bottle traditionally, you insert a needle into the cork, through which you inject an inert gas called argon that protects the wine from oxidation. Through the small needle, you then pour the wine. If it sounds tricky, there is a thorough presentation on their website, www.coravin.com.
Coravin has recently become available in Europe for around €320 including two of the Argon capsules. The only slight downsides are that the capsules don’t last very long, and that it takes some extra time to pour the wine.