We’ve all felt the joy of opening a bottle of white wine with friends, having full intention to complete the bottle. But sometimes you have half a bottle left and don’t want to throw it out or waste delicious vino. If you are a wine fanatic, this guide will offer you all the tips and tricks to keep your wine fresher for longer and able to be enjoyed to its fullest.
How to store white wine after opening? White wine will oxidize faster than red wine and does not have high-tannins to protect it from oxidation. Because of this, you will need to cork your white wine and place it in the refrigerator immediately. White wine will stay good for around 3-5 days if corked, and it will last longer if kept below room temperature and stored in an upright position.
It is impossible to give an exact expiration date on each bottle as it varies greatly depending on the year, varietal, quality, and winery. There are differences between red and white wine and more factors that determine the quality of your wine after being opened.
This quick read will educate you on how to not waste the precious grapes, how to save money, all while offering you fresher and better-tasting wine to enjoy. Sound fair?
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How to Store White Wine After Opening
As the 18th-century writer Johann Wolfgang says, “Life is too short to drink bad wine.”
Perhaps you’re the kind of wine-drinker that knows going into the bottle – this will not be finished tonight. If this commonly happens, you know the disappointing feeling when you pour that glass the next day to find it’s soured, deteriorated faster than you could imagine, and tastes distinctly like vinegar now.
Consider how much money you’re spending a year in wasted wine that goes down the drain.
An important quality to note first is that it is difficult to determine how long the bottle will stay good, and it will depend greatly on if you’re bottle is a:
- Premium Vintage – Found at high-class wineries and in wine country that doesn’t ship long distances and usually won’t be distributed to stores. The vibrations impact the wine’s flavor as well as heat during transport. These higher-quality grapes are meant to be stored and age more slowly and over a long period. More expensive and better quality wines will taste better if you allow it time to mature.
- Shelf Wines – Also called “Ready-to-drink,” shelf wines are the cheaper varietals you commonly see at grocery stores and local liquor stores. These are not meant to be ‘cellared’ or stored for long. Intended to be drunk almost immediately and may not stay good past 1-2 years. These are not meant to be stored for more than 5 years and will commonly sour faster after being opened.
In terms of investment, ready to drink table wines will depreciate in value, where premium wines often increase in value with time. These two major classifications will alter how long the wine will stay good before being opened as well as after it is opened.
As 993 Vine puts it, “A wine could go bad in a day if it’s an unstable natural wine, or it could last for a week if it’s a highly tannic, commercial red you haven’t touched since the night you accidentally opened it.”
Opening a barely passable bottle of vino is never fun. This feeling is especially tragic when it’s a bottle you sincerely enjoyed and wanted to enjoy the entirety of. But taking action against it will only happen if you understand the wine you are dealing with.
All wine should be stored in a dark and oxygen-sealed manner that protects them from light and high temperatures, which will expedite the oxidation process as well as potential bacteria that can grow in warmer temperatures.
What Causes Your Opened White Wine to Expire?
The factors that will cause your wine to expire more rapidly are:
This is why a wine that has to be transported great distances can spoil faster. The vibrations inherent in transportation affect flavor by disturbing the sediments.
Oxygen is the final factor that will greatly impact the chemistry of your wine and cause it to deteriorate faster than all other factors.
Keeping this in mind – you should also cork your wine between each glass you pour if you plan to save half. Many leave it off or decanted to ‘open-up’ in flavor as it oxidizes with air interaction. If you don’t want the flavor to open-up or peak too quickly, seal it up for preserved freshness.
If you are storing the bottle in the refrigerator, always cork it to contain it from oxidation overnight.
If you do not have the cork or a way to seal the bottle, use plastic wrap placed around the neck of the bottle, wrap a rubber band around the neck, and confirm that it is sealed air-tight.
How To Determine If Your White Wine Has Gone Bad?
The process is very straightforward and will go as follows:
- Uncork the bottle, and you will immediately receive some sensory indications of the freshness of this bottle.
- Notice the smell first. If your neck is sent craning backward to get away from the foul odor of vinegar, don’t bother taking a sip.
Some of the smells that indicate your wine has gone bad include:
- If it smells fine, try a small sample to be sure it is worth pouring a glass of.
- What you will notice is that red wines will often taste sweeter the next day and maybe slightly darker in color. Sparkling wines will be flat and have lost all bubbling. White wines will taste more sour and tart but often remain the same color, sometimes browning slightly.
- If it no longer tastes drinkable, don’t put yourself through it (or your guests for that matter!) Discard the wine down the sink and recycle the glass bottle.
The following aromas are actually the product of cork taint, which does not develop after a bottle has been opened. They are wine faults that would be present immediately.
- Card-board taste
- Moldy smell
- Musty smell
- Wet dog smell
Can Spoiled Wine Make You Sick?
This is a question that gets commonly asked. Many of you savages want to drink the wine even if it’s gone vinegary, and that’s my style too. Not willing to throw out good vino, or the bad stuff? I commend you for your frugality and am right there with you!
But the question on these value-savers’ minds is – will this harm me in any way?
The answer is probably not. It is not toxic or harmful to consume wine that tastes vinegary, just distasteful.
You cannot get sick from drinking wine that does not taste good, and the majority of wines improve as they age. Most will deteriorate quickly but this does not make them harmful to the body.
I say this all as a non-doctor. If you drink slightly off-tasting wine, you should be fine. But always consult the medical advice of a practice medical doctor.
The tastes will be more muted, and the positive qualities you liked about the wine initially will be lost such as fruity flavor or nutty notes.
It can sometimes have a higher acidity, or the tannins will taste as if they’ve had a spike in pungency, but this is not dangerous.
This may be an obvious anecdote, but in case you need to hear it – If you have acid-reflux or issues drinking wine in the first place, avoid wine that is a few days old.
Storing Unopened White Wine
Some important things to keep in mind before you have opened your white wine are the following:
- Determine if it needs to be drunk within 3-5 years and if it is a shelf-wine or a wine that ages over time.
- No wines should ever be stored in a normal refrigerator for longer than a week. You can store it in a wine refrigerator that is specially made for that use, or a normal refrigerator. Just be sure it is stored horizontally and on its side to keep the cork moist.
- A winemaker on this forum describes how winemakers take the time to add sulfur to the molecules which will bind to the oxygen. If you put a younger white wine in the fridge, it should not deteriorate due to this sulfur exposure it was shown early on, but he describes:
- “The free sulfite eventually gets used up by the oxygen that leaks through the cork even under optimal storage conditions (55F and 75% humidity), so I would be very careful when traveling with old bottles of great wine.”
- Do not store white wine in the refrigerator. Like storing your wine by the stove will make it smell like the food you cook, keeping your wine in the fridge can impact the flavor to smell like the foods on the shelf. For white wine specifically, it will also affect the pressure in the wine and can kill the flavor even in the short-term. It is best to store whites in a dark and dry room that is shielded from natural light and heat.
Wine Preserver Solutions You Can Purchase:
Some products that may aid your conquest to save the opened white wine include:
- Stoppers Vacuum Preserver Corks – These are dishwasher safe and will perfectly stop your wine from oxidizing. Claiming to keep your wine for at least a week, this is an affordable investment that could save you hundreds of dollars in wasted vino.
- Consider purchasing something that is specifically made for preserving both white and red wine, such as the Platypus Platy Preserve Preserver 800ml size for one full bottle.
- Purchase a Vacuum Pump for white wine, red wine, and rose’ that will keep the flavor for one-week as they claim and prevent any oxidation from occurring. The sealers are air-tight and reviewed to have an almost perfect 5-star rating.
- Electric Decanter Accessories Aeration Enthusiast – This is a beautiful solution that allows your wine to pour as if from a beer on tap. The alcohol is protected from oxygen and will resist being altered by exposed air. You are essentially keeping a lid on the wine bottle and releasing it in a slow pour that gently exposes the wine to oxygen. This makes for fresher, longer-lasting, and better-tasting wine that will ‘open-up’ more easily.
- Aervana Original Aerator & Dispenser – At around $100 per aerator, the Aervana isn’t your cheapest option. However, it is an excellent product. If you drink wine multiple times a week, you deserve to invest in a proper aerator that will open up your wine’s flavor, slow down the process of oxidation, and preserve your wine for freshness.
- Use Private Preserve Wine Preservation Spray in your wine bottle to remove all of the oxygen from the inside. Many reviewers (offering this product a 5-star rating) say they simply couldn’t finish a bottle in a night, and this keeps their wine good a week later, with many noting that the wine tasted the same if not better than the night they opened it.
This product will work for any wine type, and drinkers even use it for their whiskey or prized liquors to keep from premature oxidation as well.
- ArT Wine Preserver – the slightly more expensive version of Private Preserve’s spray that will also work wonders.
Boxed Wine To The Rescue!
If you are so tired of wasting good-quality wine because you simply can’t drink it all, consider making the switch to boxed wine.
Funny enough, boxed wine will stay fresher for longer than bottled wine.
I know the stigmas around being the person with boxed wine, but if it’s bottled – you’ll have under a week. If it’s boxed – you’ll have wine that can last for more than a month!
Some of the benefits of boxed wine include:
- Extended duration of freshness
- Improved flavor
- Less breakable than glass bottles – good for travelers
- If you like to use wine for cooking but don’t require an entire bottle at any point
Boxed wine remains the easiest to preserve for flavor because you are not exposing the wine to oxygen for long periods. You also pour and reseal it after each pour to lock in optimal freshness.
There is somewhat of a social stigma around boxed wine, but people are caring less and less about the packaging these days, with boxed wine on the rise.
No one cares what it looks like, as long as it tastes good. It depends on how tired you are of flushing vino and dollars down the drain, but there must be at least one kind of boxed wine that you will love.
Some of the nicest bottled wineries from all over the world are packaging their product in boxes to reach more customer’s needs.
You may be surprised at how nice it feels to not rush through a bottle for fear of wasting it.
Experiment with some boxed wine brands to get started like the popular three:
- Black Box
- Wine Cube
- Bota Box
Quick Note on Canned Wine
Canned wines usually come in 375mL format and are better for smaller consumption. We are seeing more and more high-quality canned wines on the market these days.
Enjoy and Cheers!
It can be hard to remember to cork it up after a night of drinking, but you will thank yourself for these before-the-hay-hitting steps that will keep your wine better for longer.
Don’t waste all of your expensive half-bottles or throw out wine from parties just because it’s not been drunk. Use the storage tips and hacks in this guide to save yourself money and enjoy your favorite wines as they deserve to be enjoyed – in their entirety.
Again, most wines won’t last more than a couple of years. So drink and enjoy them while you can. Life is too short for bad white wine or to hold out for the ‘right occasion,’ so make any night the right occasion and celebrate aliveness. Every night is an occasion and it’s known the help with heart health if consumed in moderation.
If you run into half-empty bottles far too often, perhaps be pickier about when you open the bottle and be sure you have another person to share it with that night. Drinking it all that night will make it ideal for peak freshness and flavor.
After all, drinking the entire bottle of white wine in one night will prevent storage issues altogether. Problem solved.
This article was reviewed for accuracy by Phoebe Fynn. Phoebe Flynn is a wine specialist and educator on a mission to make wine more fun and accessible. Phoebe passed her Court of Master Sommeliers Level One Exam last October and is currently preparing to sit her Level Two Exam this August. She believes wine is a lifelong study and vows to never stop learning. Follow her wine journey on Instagram @yourwinefriend.
Check out her author bio page for more information.