How long will an open bottle of wine keep?

(Left)McGuigan Wines 2012 Black Label Shiraz and La Marca Prosecco.

(Left)McGuigan Wines 2012 Black Label Shiraz and La Marca Prosecco.

Christopher Waters, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:08 PM ET

Not a month goes by without someone asking about how long opened wine will last. The short answer? It depends.

Dealing with wine leftovers is a case of keeping oxygen away. In general terms, any open bottle, regardless of colour, that has been recorked and refrigerated, will taste virtually as good as new for a day or two. I always refrigerate open bottles of red and find that they quickly come to a more enjoyable serving temperature once poured into a glass.

Beyond that, the style and grape varieties used will factor into how long they keep fresh. Wines with higher levels of acidity, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Gamay Noir, tend to keep better than fuller, richer wines. A tannic red wine, like Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, typically improves with a little exposure to air, but their flavour and fragrance will deteriorate due to the debilitating effects of oxygen.

It’s good to know that wine doesn’t go bad in the same way as food does. Stale or oxidized wine isn’t the most pleasant thing to ingest, but, consumed in moderation, it won’t make you physically ill. Your own taste should be the biggest determiner. If the wine gives you pleasure, enjoy it.

There are gadgets available to help prolong the life of opened wines. Hand-pump vacuum sealers are stocked in most kitchenware stores. These units see a one-way rubber valve inserted into the bottle. A plastic pump is placed on top and elbow grease is applied to increase the resistance of the stopper as much of the air is sucked out of the bottle.

Wine lovers who don’t want a workout can opt for cans of inert gas, typically sold at liquor stores or wine shops. A few short bursts from the container through a straw-like attachment prior to recorking will blanket the liquid and halt the effect of oxidation.

The most economical solution is to keep a few half-sized bottles, like those used for Icewine and other dessert wines, on hand. Pouring your partial bottle into a clean smaller bottle will reduce the ratio of oxygen and wine and extend the drinking window by a few days. In the case of sparkling wines, special reinforced metal stoppers will give you a tight seal that helps preserve the effervescence for a day or two.

Wines of the Week:

***1/2 La Marca Prosecco, Veneto, Italy, BC $19.99 (321182) | AB $19 | MB $20.10 (740323) | ON $17.95 (287987)

The name La Marca refers to the La Marca Trevigiana region, which is a prized grape growing area for Prosecco, the famous Italian sparkling wine. The fresh and fruity style makes for a good introduction to Prosecco, a lively and refreshing bubbly that’s enjoyable on its own or with simply grilled fish or seafood.

**** McGuigan Wines 2012 Black Label Shiraz, South Eastern Australia BC $10.99 (325787) | AB $10.99 | MB $11.99 (000857) | ON $10.95 (325787)

McGuigan Black Label has cemented its reputation by consistently delivering a bold, flavourful red at a value price. Rich, ripe concentrated fruit and a smooth texture make this a crowd-pleasing style that’s ideal for burgers or barbecued ribs.


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