How Do You Store Open Wine?

By Miss Fox | Wine How To's
24 Feb 2012

First, I have to point out that one of my friends, Lisa, asked, “What do you mean ‘store’? People have left over wine?!” Ah yes, quite a wine lover my friend is. Anyway, in my classes, these questions come up week after week: How do you store open wine? Do you refrigerate open wine? Should you ever refrigerate red wine?

The good thing is, it doesn’t matter whether you are trying to store open red wine or white wine, the answer is the same. Cork it, and refrigerate it. Basically consider it a piece of cut fruit… hence you do what you can to minimize contact with air and you stick it in the refrigerator to slow down the spoilage.

Ok, great. So you’ve got a half full bottle of red wine in the refrigerator. What do you do about serving it when you’re ready? DON”T nuke it! It will heat up parts of the wine and ruin the flavor. The best way to warm up a red wine is to fill a bowl of hot water and put the bottle into the bowl for a period of time, maybe 10 minutes to start. This may take a couple experiments to find the right amount of time to leave it in the bowl based on your refrigerator’s temperature, your hot tap water’s temperature and your normal room temperature. But err on the side of too cool until you get the timing right.

Just keep in mind that you want to just bring the red wine up to about 60 degrees or so. The bottle should still be cool to the touch.

With white wine, which should be served slightly warmer than straight out of the refrigerator or about 50 degrees, take it out five to ten minutes before serving, depending on how much leftover wine you have.

How long will open wine last? I’ve personally pushed it to about 10 days when storing it in the refrigerator, but for full flavor, I’d suggest 5 days to a week.

If you follow these simple directions and store your open wine in the refrigerator, it will be a rare sight to see wine being poured down the drain, and no one ever wants to see that!


  1. Very great post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write once more soon!

  2. zoeldar says:

    I fully agree with the post with one exception…that being that nuking the wine on a low setting (albeit for 10 sec max) and then swirling seems to warm it up just fine. I’ve turned this trick on everything from Cabs to Chards to Syrahs to First Growths without mishap. My bigger challenge is fitting today’s larger glasses in the microwave!
    The best method, though, is to leave out on the counter for whatever time is needed to warm up slowly (depends on ambient temp, of course).

    • Miss Fox says:

      I have nuked some glasses of wine… you’re right – it works to warm up the wine. And if you can’t taste any change in flavor, sounds aok with me. But, technically, you are heating up some of the molecules to a high degree, and not really heating others, which may alter their original flavor or aroma. On a normal night, after work, I’ll take a chance on a slight change in the wine in order to get something in my glass that is at a drinkable temperature quickly! Thanks for your thoughts.

  3. Swanson says:

    I am new to wine and I know there is wine people store over the years for better taste. I also see people leave their alcohol out and as well. I thought it was okay to drink wine after it being open and sitting out, I put the cork back in it. Would that be okay? I like the look on my counter, not hiding away in the fridge..

    • Miss Fox says:

      Hello Student Swanson and thank you for your question. You bring up interesting points. 1) You are correct that folks store wine for a long time in the hopes of improving the taste, but this applies to an unopened bottle – once air gets to the wine, it begins to degrade it, slowly turning it into vinegar. 2) It is okay to drink wine that has been open and sitting out… it just may not taste as good as it did when it was just opened. 3) The only reason to put the wine in the refrigerator is to delay it going bad. So a re-corked wine bottle in the ‘fridge will last around a week, where one on the counter may only last three or so days. It is really just like food – you put things in the refrigerator if you want them to last longer. So it is entirely up to you and if you like the look of the wine on your counter, go for it. I will admit that in my house, it is a rare bottle that is open more than three days without being empty!

  4. Geni says:

    Hello. Thank you f or your wonderful posts. I have several bottles of Sonoma Cutrer Les Pierre’s and The Cutrer
    They are 2001, 2002 and. 2004. Are they still good? They have been kept in my wine refrig for their lives. How long does Chardonnay last?

    • Miss Fox says:

      Hi Geni,
      Sorry for the delay… your comment went in my spam folder for some reason. I have found some Chardonnay are great for 10 to 15 years and others turn for the worse much sooner. I would say that any of those bottles would be worth breaking open now… they will probably not get much better and they may turn bad. The websites may be more specific directions for you. I find it is always good to do a little research concerning such treasured wines. Hope you have wonderful connections drinking the wine you’ve collected!
      ~Miss Fox

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