It's a question that's been tossed around for centuries, since the first cork was popped: How long does wine keep once it's been opened?
As with all things wine, it depends on many factors
. Red wine, white wine, young wine, old wine, the list goes on. Oxidation is both a friend and an enemy. A freshly opened bottle often benefits from sitting open for a few minutes before serving in order to allow the oxygen to seep in and bring out the flavors and aromas in their full-bodied glory, but too much time exposed to the air and all those wonderful characteristics start to slowly turn unpleasant and eventually the wine will be dull, sour, and not nearly as fragrant. It's a slow process and it really comes down to personal taste, because no matter how long an opened bottle sits it won't become unsafe to drink -- just unpleasant.
The quick, very general answer on how long an opened bottle of wine keeps is 3 days
. All wines will keep at least one day without changing for the worst, and many aged reds can last up to a week. Factors to keep in mind:
- The age of the wine The longer the wine was aged the longer it will retain its desirable characteristics after being opened. Young wine is more susceptible to the effects of oxidation.
- How much is left The fuller the bottle the longer the wine will last, due to less room for oxygen. Consider transferring leftovers into a smaller bottle
- Sugar and alcohol content Sugar and alcohol act as preservatives so dessert wines, ports, and sherries can keep much longer (up to a year in some cases).
When it doubt smell it and taste it. If you like it drink it! If you don't, either discard it or find another use for it. There are no hard and fast rules so make your own.