How Long Does Red Wine Last?

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How long does red wine last? Well, a lot depends on the type of grapes used and the fermenting process.

Because the dry red wine has no residual sugar, it has no sweetness, this is why it is called dry. During fermentation, the yeast has consumed all the sugar present in the grapes. people who drink dry red wine do so for the tannins that are more complex than other types. The flavors can be really complex, and once your taste adapts to the tannins you will find yourself searching for them. Red wine is sought after around the world, and once the red grapes ripen, it is time for the process of winemaking to begin. The dry red will last for 2-4 days when opened.

How Long Does Red Wine Last Once Opened?

The length of time the red wine lasts when opened varies, but once exposed to the air it begins to deteriorate ultimately taking away the fresh flavor, and you don’t want it to taste like vinegar, so it is better consumed. Red wines should be resealed and refrigerated for up to four days, no longer as they will be rendered undrinkable by the oxidation process. If you have a particularly good bottle of red wine you will want to finish it. When forced to store it keep it in the refrigerator at a low temperature overnight, and if you can’t finish it the next day, use it to marinate the beef. A good red wine always makes an amazing marinade for beef and lamb. Because wine is organic food, like everything else it has a use-by date.

Where to Keep Your Wine

You will notice that wine bottles are traditionally made to block the UV rays. This is because the UV will cause a breakdown of the compounds in the wine ruining it if overexposed. To make sure that your wine lasts keep it in a cool dark place like a cellar or pantry so that it is still at its best when consumed. If you buy a box of wine it has inbuilt protection from the sun due to the packaging.

Most red wine is aged for some period before bottling, and this ranges from a few days for Beaujolais to around 18 months for more complex red wines. Aging can take place in concrete tanks, stainless steel, or oak barrels.

Signs Your Wine is Bad

There are many reasons wine can go bad, and one of them is poor bottling or microbial contamination, there are several ways to tell when the wine is bad.

  • Smells unpleasant, it may even smell moldy
  • Tastes acidic
  • Tastes like vinegar
  • Tastes like chemicals
  • Has gone a brownish color like vinegar
  • It may have started to ferment
  • The cork may have moved upwards

If you notice any of the above issues, don’t drink the wine, tip it out and start again.

As soon as you open a bottle the chemical changes start to occur, and as it oxidizes, sulfur dioxide that is in the wine dissolves and evaporates. With short exposure to the air, usually about two hours, the wine tastes perfect. But, this changes quickly, and if you left it like that for two days, it would taste like vinegar. The fruity aromas are the first aspect to disappear, and the bouquet shifts to that of vinegar.

Generally, the rich sweet dessert wines will stay fresh for longer due to their sugar content. If you keep your dessert wine for a few days, later decant it into a smaller bottle, cork, or stopper it up and keep it refrigerated for two or three days, no longer.

Start a Cellar

Never keep your wine in the kitchen, as this is an area where it frequently becomes too hot. Red wine should be stored at 50-55 degrees Farenheight, and a cellar will help you to collect and preserve wine. Red wine does not need to be expensive, but, usually, it does need cellaring for a period of time, to fully develop flavors. If you don’t have underfloor space for a wine cellar, store it in a closet or cupboard in a spare room of your house. Visit wineries as a hobby and collect different wines to add to the cellar, and make notes about them to learn more regarding red wine. Some of the smaller wineries will have wines that no one has ever heard of, and these make good gifts for family and friends.

When you attend wine tastings, always remember that you are not meant to swallow the wine, but spit it out so that you keep a clear palette.

Wine bottles no longer have corks but have screw-top lids, so you are very unlikely to find a bottle that has gone off because the screw tops don’t move around like the corks used to. So when you open your bottle it will be absolutely perfect and usually drinkable. Consequently, there is no longer any need for corkscrews although I noticed that the Sommelier still carries one.

How Long Can I Cellar Red Wine?

Once you start collecting, some red wines will last longer than others. A full-bodied red wine,

  • Cabernet Sauvignon will last 7-10 years.
  • Merlot 3-5 years
  • Zinfandel 2-5 years

If your wine storage area is nice and cool you don’t need to purchase a special wine fridge, as you can store your red wine in racks. When storing your wine put the reds that require drinking first on the one rack for ease of finding. Any that require 7-10 years, put further away for later on.

Of course, it is important not to forget to drink your red wine, as if you keep it for too long sometimes it throws a crust on top, and can become undrinkable. However, I was told if this happens to strain the wine through a sieve to remove the residual sediment, and often the wine is still fine to drink. A good way to organize your cellar is to label every rack with the year it was cellared and another label for each row saying when it should be consumed. As once you get more than six dozen bottles some kind of system is required to enable consumption in a timely manner.


Collecting wine is a terrific hobby and determining how long does red wine last, is part of it. If you collect a few dozen bottles, you may need to speed up consumption or start your own wine club. The good thing is when you cellar your own wine you don’t need to pay too much, as most red wine gets better with age.

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