How Long Wine Lasts After It's Opened

Consider this mystery solved

Though the concept of leftover wine might sound a little strange (who doesn't finish a whole bottle of wine?), it can happen occasionally. If you and some friends are sampling a variety of wines with dinner or you're having only a glass with your meal, you're likely to have a few half-empty bottles left over. The good news is, however, that with the right treatment, there's a lot of game left inside those precious bottles.

If stored properly, both red and white wines can last between two and four days, while sparkling wine has a one-to-three-day shelf life.

The range of freshness depends on the type of wine and how it's made, but there are a few things you can do to extend the longevity of your favorite Merlot or Sauvignon Blanc. If you know you're going to have only one glass, make sure to cork the bottle immediately after pouring. And if you find yourself not finishing the bottle you planned on draining by the end of the night, save it by corking it tightly and putting it in the fridge no matter what color it is—refrigeration helps to slow the oxidation process (i.e., the main reason wine spoils) for both styles.

Since every brand is different, though, it's important to take precautions before diving into your boozy leftovers. Pour a small amount into a glass to examine the color consistency and give it a whiff to detect any funky smells. If the wine has lost its luster, appears to have more residue than normal and now smells more like vinegar than tasty vino, it's probably time to toss it. On the other hand, if it looks and smells OK, then next step is to take a quick sip. If it tastes similar to the last time you enjoyed a glass, you're good to go.

And, hey, if you don't feel like drinking it, you can always use it for cooking.