The most common question we get about our wines is, “How long will the wine last before it goes bad?”.
It’s a tricky question because the meaning of “bad” is different for different people.
In this blog post, we’ll break the answer down into a few easily understandable components which should make the answer more clear.
Bad generally means three things, 1) Loss of aromatics/flavor, 2) Oxidation or staling, 3) Wine spoilage.
Let’s dig into each of these one by one:
1) Loss of aromatics/flavor
Once you open a bottle of wine, you expose it to oxygen – wine’s mortal enemy. Of course, in moderation, oxygen is a good thing. Corks actually let oxygen into your wine at a *very* slow rate, allowing your wine to mature and develop complexity over time. But once you pop the cork, your wine is subjected to an onslaught of oxygen.
Check the label on your wine bottle. You’ll see a big notice that says “contains sulfites”. All wine labels have to say this by law because all wine has sulfites naturally. When this sulfite level is at a “healthy” level, your wine is in a sense insured against oxidation and spoilage. Not only does a correct sulfite level prevent bacteria from living in your wine, it also prevents oxidation. Every time oxygen comes in contact with your wine, it “binds up” a bit of the sulfites, dropping the level slightly. Within a short time of your wine being open, all sulfites will be bound up, which means that your wine is no longer “protected”. This can happen within an hour or less.
At this point, the oxygen starts to oxidize your wine and the wine’s aromatics and flavor start to reduce dramatically. This is the first step of your wine “going bad”. All these flavors and aromatics are what make your wine so nice to begin with. If you leave a wine out for a day or two exposed to oxygen, you’ll come back to it and notice that it’s a shell of its former glorious self. But the wine may not be considered stale yet. That will take a few more days.
2) Oxidation or staling
Oxidation has arrived when your wine has lost the majority of aromatics and now starts to develop “stale” flavors. These are noted by sherry or raisin-like qualities, or even squash or pumpkin notes. They are generally not all that pleasant.
At this point, you’re going down the path of truly “bad” wine. The next stop is spoilage.
3) Wine Spoilage
Because your sulfite level is no longer protecting your wine, anything floating around in the air can “infect” your wine. You really can’t prevent it. If your wine is left out and exposed to oxygen, at some point it will start to spoil. It will start to develop very harsh and unpleasant flavors. This is the process vinegar goes through, but vinegar is made by injecting certain strains of bacteria into wine to get certain qualities. You probably won’t do this though, so you’re stuck with wild yeasts and bacteria from the air, so generally your spoiled wine won’t be too pleasant.
This is the last stop in your wine spoilage and will happen within a few weeks at room temperature.
How to avoid this:
1) One of the best ways to keep your wine from going bad is to use it quickly. ACADÉMIE wine bottles are smaller than a normal wine bottle (375ml instead of 750ml like a traditional wine bottle). This means two things: First, you’ll use the wine more quickly. You can generally get between 2-6 meals out of one of our wine bottles, depending on how much you use at a time. At this rate, your wine won’t have time to go stale because you’ll have already used it all.
Next, less air can “live” in the headspace of a smaller wine bottle. If you use half of a full size wine bottle, you’ve doubled the amount of oxygen in the headspace. ACADÉMIE’s smaller bottles lessen the staling potential of your wine.
2) Another great way to prevent staling of wine is to get it in the fridge ASAP. As soon as you open your wine, use it and get it cold. This dramatically reduces the rate at which wine goes bad. One common problem with regular wine bottles is that they are too big to fit into your fridge, especially with the cork poking out. ACADÉMIE’s smaller wine bottles are much shorter than a normal wine bottle and usually fit in the fridge door.
3) There are tools out there that can prevent staling and are pretty darn cheap when you consider how much wine they “save”. Vacuvin creates a hand-pump vacuum that sucks out air in a bottle’s head space with a special stopper.
You can check it out here: Vacu Vin Concerto 3-Piece Wine Saver Set with 4 Stoppers
And there you have it folks. Wine will go “bad” within hours or days, but will truly taste “bad” within weeks. You can slow this process down by getting your wine in the fridge as soon as it’s opened.