Few things are as disappointing as wasting a perfectly good bottle of wine. But fear not! We’ve got some simple tips to help you make the most of your favourite wines. It all starts with understanding why wine goes bad.

Wine is a delicate balance of flavours and aromas, and oxygen plays a crucial role in its fermentation process. When you open a bottle to have yourself a treat in the kitchen after work or have a glass on your patio at the weekend, a bit of oxygen exposure can enhance its qualities. However, too much oxygen can quickly turn your wine into vinegar. (That’s actually how we make red and white wine vinegar!)

Almost every wine preservation tip you’ll find is based on minimizing your wine’s exposure to oxygen. However, it’s not just oxygen you need to worry about. Light and temperature also affect a wine’s integrity. And how you store your wine depends on whether the bottle has been opened yet.

From timing to temperature, we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know about storing wine.

How long does an opened wine last?

When you open a bottle of wine, its shelf life shortens significantly compared to an unopened bottle. The exposure to oxygen, light, and temperature changes begins to alter the wine’s flavours and aromas. However, the type of wine and how you store it after opening can affect its longevity.

Red Wine

Red wines generally last 3-5 days after opening if they are recorded and stored properly. The presence of tannins and natural acidity in red wines acts as a preservative, helping them to last longer than some other types of wines. To ensure your red wine remains drinkable, recork the bottle tightly and store it in a cool, dark place.

Avoid exposure to light and heat, which can accelerate the oxidation process and degrade the wine more quickly. Some red wines, particularly those with higher tannin levels, like Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah, may even last up to a week under optimal storage conditions.

White Wine

White wines typically have a shelf life of 3-5 days after opening, provided they are recorked and stored in the refrigerator. The cooler temperature helps slow down the oxidation process. Some white wines with higher acidity or residual sugar content, such as Rieslings or Sauvignon Blancs, can last up to a week when stored properly.

It’s essential to recork the bottle tightly to minimize the wine’s exposure to air. Using a vacuum wine stopper can be particularly effective in prolonging the wine’s freshness by removing excess air from the bottle.

A woman's hand selects and draws a bottle of aged natural wine from an underground wine wooden cellar

Sparkling Wine

Sparkling wines are more sensitive to exposure once opened, primarily because they rely on carbonation for their unique character. Typically, sparkling wines last 1-3 days after opening. To preserve their effervescence, use a sparkling wine stopper, which is designed to create an airtight seal and keep the bubbles intact.

Store the bottle in the refrigerator to further extend its freshness. Despite these measures, sparkling wines will inevitably lose their fizz over a few days, but they can still be enjoyed as a base for cocktails or cooking.

Rosé Wine

Rosé wines are similar to white wines in terms of longevity. They usually last 3-5 days when recorked and stored in the refrigerator. The bright acidity in many rosé wines helps preserve their flavours for a few days after opening. Ensure the bottle is sealed tightly to maintain the wine’s freshness and prevent oxidation.

Fortified Wines (such as Port or Sherry)

Fortified wines have a longer shelf life due to their higher alcohol content, which acts as a natural preservative. These wines can last 1-3 weeks after opening if stored in a cool, dark place and sealed properly. Ports and sherries often benefit from the addition of distilled spirits, which further extends their longevity compared to regular wines. Despite their resilience, it’s still advisable to consume them within a few weeks to enjoy their best quality.

How to store unopened wines?

Proper storage of unopened wine is crucial to preserving its quality and ensuring it ages gracefully. Here are comprehensive guidelines on how to store unopened wine:

1. Store at the Right Temperature

Temperature is the most critical factor in wine storage. Ideally, wine should be stored at a consistent temperature of around 55°F (13°C), but anywhere between 45°F (7°C) and 65°F (18°C) is acceptable. Avoid fluctuations in temperature as they can cause the wine to expand and contract, potentially damaging the cork and allowing air to seep in.

2. Keep Away from Light

Light, especially ultraviolet (UV) light, can degrade wine and cause it to age prematurely. Store wine in a dark place, such as a wine cellar, a wine refrigerator, or a dark closet. If these options are unavailable, consider wrapping the bottles in cloth or keeping them in their original boxes.

3. Maintain Humidity

A relative humidity of around 70% is ideal for wine storage. Too little humidity can dry out the cork, leading to oxidation, while too much can encourage mould growth. Using a humidifier or placing a shallow pan of water in the storage area can help maintain the proper humidity level.

4. Store Bottles Horizontally

beautiful female wine steward taking bottle from shelf at wine store

Storing wine bottles on their sides keeps the wine in contact with the cork, which prevents the cork from drying out and shrinking. This is particularly important for bottles sealed with natural corks. Sparkling wines and wines with screw caps do not need to be stored horizontally, but doing so can save space.

5. Avoid Vibration

Vibration can disturb the sediment in wine and accelerate the chemical reactions that cause it to age. Keep wine away from appliances like refrigerators, washing machines, or areas with heavy foot traffic. Dedicated wine coolers or cellars are designed to minimize vibrations.

6. Store in a Stable Environment

Wine should be stored in an area with a stable environment. Avoid places where the temperature or humidity fluctuates significantly, such as near heating vents, windows, or kitchen appliances.

7. Consider Wine Refrigerators or Coolers

If you don’t have a wine cellar, a wine refrigerator is an excellent alternative. These units are designed to maintain the ideal temperature and humidity levels for wine storage. They also protect the wine from light and vibration.

8. Limit Exposure to Strong Odors

Wine can absorb strong odours through the cork, affecting its flavour. Store wine away from items with strong smells, such as cleaning supplies, garbage, or aromatic foods.

9. Keep an Inventory

For those with large collections, keeping an inventory of your wines can help manage your stock and ensure you consume bottles at their peak. Note the purchase date, ideal drinking window, and storage location.

10. Long-Term Storage

For wines intended for long-term ageing, invest in a dedicated wine storage solution like a professional wine storage facility or a self-storage where they have a wine cellar solution such as Keep It Self Storage. These options provide optimal conditions for ageing wine over many years.

Storing unopened wine properly is super important for keeping its quality top-notch and letting it mature as intended. Just make sure to keep it at a consistent temperature, shield it from light and vibration, and check the humidity levels. These storage tips will help you make the most of your wine, whether you’re a casual drinker or a serious collector.

How to store opened wines?

Storing opened wine properly can help preserve its flavour and quality for as long as possible. Here are detailed guidelines on how to store opened wine:

1. Re-cork the Wine

After pouring, always re-cork the bottle immediately. Place the cork back in the bottle tightly. If the original cork is damaged or you have trouble inserting it back, consider using a reusable wine stopper. These stoppers are designed to create a better seal, preventing air from getting into the bottle.

2. Use a Vacuum Pump

A vacuum pump can be used to remove air from the bottle before sealing it. These devices come with special stoppers that allow you to pump out the air, creating a vacuum seal. This helps slow down the oxidation process, keeping the wine fresher for longer.

Red and white wine bottles in a bucket

3. Store Wine Upright

Store the opened bottle upright. This minimizes the surface area exposed to oxygen compared to storing the bottle on its side, thus slowing the oxidation process.

4. Refrigerate the Wine

Once opened, most wines benefit from being stored in the refrigerator. The cool temperature slows down the oxidation and chemical reactions that cause wine to spoil. Even red wines can be stored in the refrigerator after opening. Before serving, simply let the red wine warm up to the desired temperature.

5. Use a Wine Preserver Gas

Wine preservers that use inert gases (like argon) can be sprayed into the bottle before resealing. The gas is heavier than air and creates a protective layer on the surface of the wine, preventing oxidation. This method is particularly useful for high-end wines or those you wish to keep fresh for longer periods.

6. Keep Away from Light and Heat

Just like unopened wine, opened wine should be kept away from direct light and heat sources. Store it in a dark, cool place, such as a wine fridge or a kitchen cupboard, if you do not have room in the refrigerator.

7. Transfer to a Smaller Bottle

If you have a half-empty bottle of wine, consider transferring the remaining wine into a smaller bottle. This reduces the amount of air in contact with the wine, slowing down oxidation.

8. Consider the Type of Wine

Different types of wine have different shelf lives once opened:

  • Red Wine: Generally lasts 3-5 days. High-tannin reds can last slightly longer.
  • White Wine: Typically lasts 3-5 days. Wines with higher acidity can last up to a week.
  • Rosé Wine: Similar to white wine, lasting about 3-5 days.
  • Sparkling Wine: Best consumed within 1-3 days. Use a sparkling wine stopper to maintain carbonation.
  • Fortified Wine: Lasts 1-3 weeks due to higher alcohol content.

Detailed Breakdown of Storage Techniques:

Red Wine:

  1. Re-cork: Use the original cork or a reusable stopper.
  2. Refrigerate: Store in the fridge to extend freshness.
  3. Bring to Room Temperature Before Serving: Let the wine warm up naturally before drinking.

White and Rosé Wine:

  1. Re-cork: Use the original cork or a reusable stopper.
  2. Refrigerate: Store in the fridge to slow down oxidation.

Sparkling Wine:

  1. Use a Sparkling Wine Stopper: This helps maintain the bubbles.
  2. Refrigerate: Store in the fridge and consume within 1-3 days for best quality.

Fortified Wine:

  1. Re-cork: Use the original cork or a reusable stopper.
  2. Store in a Cool, Dark Place: A wine fridge or a dark cupboard is ideal.

How do I know if a wine has gone bad?

Determining whether a wine has gone bad involves using your senses to assess its appearance, aroma, and taste. Here’s how to tell if a wine has gone bad:


  • Colour Changes: While some wines change colour as they age, drastic color changes, such as turning brownish or cloudy, can indicate spoilage.
  • Sediment: Sediment at the bottom of the bottle is normal in aged wines. However, if the sediment appears excessive or lumpy in a young wine, it may be a sign of spoilage.


  • Vinegar Smell: A strong smell of vinegar or nail polish remover (acetone) indicates the wine has likely turned into vinegar due to acetic acid bacteria.
  • Musty or Moldy Odor: Moldy or corky odours suggest the wine has been contaminated by cork taint (TCA), which can develop from a flawed cork or improper storage conditions.
  • Oxidized Aromas: If the wine smells stale, like wet cardboard or sherry, it may have been exposed to excessive oxygen, leading to oxidation.


  • Acidic or Vinegary Taste: Wines that have turned into vinegar will taste sharp, sour, or overly acidic.
  • Flat or Lifeless Flavor: If the wine lacks vibrancy, fruitiness, or complexity and tastes dull or flat, it may have oxidized.
  • Bitterness or Off-flavors: Unpleasant flavours like bitterness, astringency, or chemical tastes are indicators of spoilage.


  • Carbonation Loss: In sparkling wines, the loss of bubbles or effervescence can indicate that the wine has gone flat due to improper storage or extended exposure to air.
  • Mouthfeel Changes: If the wine feels slimy, oily, or gritty on the palate, it may have undergone bacterial contamination.

Overall Condition

  • Cork Condition: Check the condition of the cork. A cork that is pushed out slightly from the bottle or has visible mould growth may indicate spoilage.
  • Storage Conditions: Consider how the wine has been stored. Poor storage conditions, such as exposure to heat, light, or fluctuations in temperature, can accelerate wine spoilage.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to discard the wine, as it may be unsafe to consume or will not provide an enjoyable drinking experience. Trust your senses and use these indicators to determine whether a wine has gone bad. While wine can evolve and develop complex flavours with age, spoilage is a natural risk, especially if the wine has not been stored properly.

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