How long will a red wine last if I use a vacuum pump to remove the air from the bottle?

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

How long will a red wine last if I use a vacuum pump to remove the air from the bottle and seal it with a rubber stopper?

—Joseph V., Madera, Calif.

Dear Joseph,

I have mixed feelings about those vacuum pumps and stoppers. I used them myself when I first started drinking wine. I liked how it felt like I was really doing something to help my wine last, and there was often a satisfying pop when I would take the stopper off.

But since then, I’ve read about a lot of experiments and comparison tastings using those stoppers, and the results are inconclusive. It seems widely accepted that while they might form a good seal and remove some of the air in the headspace initially, they don't remove all of the oxygen, and they usually leak. There are also concerns that you’re taking some of the aromatics out of the wine when you pump that air out, resulting in wines that could end up tasting flat the next day. Of course, most wines will taste relatively flat after being open for a day.

Once you open a bottle of wine—and no matter the method you use to preserve it—you probably won’t get more than two to three days of extra life from it, more or less, depending on the wine and how sensitive the person drinking it is to such things. But there are some things you can do to give leftover wine a little extra life: putting it in the refrigerator (both reds and whites), using an inert gas like argon or transferring to a smaller bottle to limit its oxygen exposure.

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny

More In Dr. Vinny

Why are grapes harvested in bins instead of in a big truck bed?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why large plastic bins are ubiquitous in wine …

Dec 5, 2022

What is “reverse osmosis” in relation to wine? How and why is it used?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the science (and the motivation) behind the …

Nov 28, 2022

I need advice on Thanksgiving wines. Which wines pair best with turkey and sides?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers advice on selecting wines for the Thanksgiving …

Nov 21, 2022

What is a “second wine”?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the "second wine" concept and what it means in …

Nov 14, 2022

Is it bad if an old bottle of wine has sediment in it?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains that sediment happens—and how to deal with it.

Nov 7, 2022

Is it OK to change my mind about a wine after I've approved a sommelier to serve it?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains that there's a reason that sommeliers show …

Oct 31, 2022