HOME > Chowhound > Wine >


Shelf life of Port and Sherry

This might be a stupid question, but how long does Port or Cream Sherry last once it's been opened? We have a bottle of each that we started and never finished and I'm wondering if I should just toss them. Thanks.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. What *kind* of Porto? What *kind* of Sherry? (It makes a huge difference.)

    Fino Sherries have a very short shelf life. Cream Sherries have a much longer shelf life.

    Porto is an "iffy" propostition in terms of long-term shelf-life, once they're opened.

    Australian fortifieds have a longer shelf-life.

    1. neither will go "off", like an open bottle of wine. the flavors just begin to fade.

      7 Replies
      1. re: hotoynoodle

        Not correct! Once opened, oxidation takes place in Sherry just like wine. For this reason, the Sherry bodegas all recommend drinking Sherry's within a short period of time, from a few days for Fino's and Manzanillas to a couple of weeks for Amontillado.

        Don't believe me? Take it up with my Tio Pepe!

        1. re: bkhuna

          It is totally dependent on the actual Sherry in question. Some are meant to be consumed early and quickly, but others can last like a Port, or Madeiria, if not left open.

          To say Port, and Sherry is far too broad a question. There are great differences in each. So very much depends on the exact wine.


          1. re: zin1953

            But that's just flavor deterioration, they're still good in the sense that they won't make you ill. So really, even though the experts say you should drink them fairly quickly, that's really in reference to how long they maintain the optimum flavor. After that, it's a matter of whether they still taste good to you. If they do, then drink them; if not, toss them.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              That's an important distinction. And, when the sherry's no longer fit for sipping, keep it on hand to spike your mac 'n cheese for that little something extra in complexity. Got that from Darrell Corti. Although one can only dream about what kind of sherry and madeira leftovers he might be hoarding!

              P. S. I've got a third of a bottle of Dios Bacio Amontillado meio seco in the fridge that I'm keeping for cooking.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                Ruth, drinking bad wine will *rarely* make you ill, but it won't taste very good . . .

                Darrell's "tip" that Melanie mentions is, of course, a good one, but the question -- I supose -- is whether the OP was talking about the shelf life of these fortified wines as it relates to drinking, or as it relates to cooking. Either way, FWIW, I wouldn't use a long-opened Fino or Manzanilla for anything other than cleaning my drains. This is the category that deteriorates the most quickly and the most dramatically, and a "tired" Fino generally sucks! ;^)

                1. re: zin1953

                  Absolutely correct. However, a Creme Sherry could last (be drinkable without major deteriorations noticable) much longer. I have found it is similar with bottle age for these wines. Some are meant to be consumed very early, upon release, while others show no signs of deterioration with much more time in the botlle.

                  One needs to be very specific, when terms like Port, and Sherry are used - just as you stated in your first reply.


          2. I have a bottle of Sandeman 20 year port. I haven't opened it yet. Does anyone know how long it will last once I do open it? I didn't write the original post, but I'd love to know.

            1 Reply
            1. re: puppymomma

              Older Tawny Porto -- such as a 20-Year Old or, even more so, Colheitas -- will lose a great deal of aromatics relatively quickly. To be generous, let's say -- at home, stored in a cool, dark place after opening -- within two weeks you should be able to see an obvious difference between the "two-week old" opened bottle and one "freshly" opened that night.

              IMHO, it's the aromatics that fade first. What happens to the flavors isn't that they fade so much (although they do lose subtleties), but rather, as the fruit fades, the alcoholic "heat" is more noticable and pronouced.

            2. Some port is cellered for years, so once opened it can be drunk for 4 or 5 weeks without problem. For example a Tawny port can be drunk, and survives well, for over a month.

              A Vintage Port though, should be opened and drunk on the same day. Although its an old wine, tis quality will wane very quickly. Mind you.....I could easily gulp down a 1963 Vintage Port within an afternoon :)

              11 Replies
              1. re: Tboy

                Actually, the tradition was to consume the bottle of Vintage Porto over the weekend -- not oin one evening -- at your country estate with your guests.

                That said, the older the Tawny Porto is, the "shorter" its survival time once opened; the younger the Vintage Porto, the longer it can survive once opened.

                1. re: zin1953

                  Yeah, it took us two evenings to polish off the bottle of '55 Dow we opened for my parents' 50th anniversary. You want to drink it quickly, but you also want to savor it.

                  1. re: zin1953

                    As an example, we opened and decanted a slightly broken vertical of Taylor VP's for an event. I decanted, based on the age of these particular Ports. They were the '63, '70, '77 and '85. At the event, the '70 was handsdown the winner. I kept the decanters stoppered and we returned to them in five days, with four of the people from that event. At that time, the '63 blew everyone away. It had attained its glory. The '77 had faded, while the '70 was now #2. The '85 was really similar to what we had encountered at the event - good, but not great.

                    Now, for the event, the decanting went: '85 first, '77 next, with the '70 not that far behind. I decanted the '63 about 30 mins. before the guests arrived, thinking that as it was the oldest, it would probably die much sooner. Little did I know.

                    Will every house's VP behave exactly the same? I doubt it. Will YOUR Taylor-Fladgate broken vertical behave exactly the same? I do not know. I can only talk about my experience with my bottles of each.


                  2. re: Tboy

                    Are there any 63's left? I can hardly find an 85!

                    1. re: Veggo

                      There are lots of 1963s available -- as well as other vintages -- you just have to know where to look.

                      1. re: zin1953

                        i got a bottle of 63 im saving it for right time

                        1. re: zin1953

                          I often see some listed by K&L. I need to talk to "Uncle Ralph" about filling in my '70s and '77s, as I have devestated too many. Luckily, I still have some '63s in the cellar.


                          1. re: Veggo

                            Some vintages are easier to get than others, and it doesn't necessarily matter how recent it is. The supply depends partly on how many of the port houses declared it a vintage year (they only "declare" a vintage when they have grapes of a certain quality). 1963 was one of the better years of the last century, and most if not all of the port houses produced vintage port that year. In other words, there's a fair amount of it around because there was a lot of it produced. It's also somewhat counterintuitive that, generally the better it is the more there is (because it means the growing conditions that year were close to optimal and because the high quality means it's worth saving). Actually, though, '85 was another widely declared port vintage, and it shouldn't be that hard to get.

                            I just bought a couple of '63s for my sister (her birth year) at an auction, but you can get them from retailers that specialize in high-end wines (two years ago I bought two bottles of '55 -- another great vintage -- for my parents' 50th anniversary -- it was delicious!).

                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                              The supply of the '85s has vascillated up and down. Early on, it was hard to find. When it never realized its potential (predicated on the wine writers), it became more accessible. I often see rather large quantities of it. For me, I put down 2 cases of the Taylor-Fladgate, but my wife has loved it from day 1, so I am down to the last few bottles. It may never have realized its potential, but as my lovely wife has enjoyed it, I cannot complain. Hey, it was not the "investment," that I had anticipated, but my wife has benefitted greatly. Maybe that's why she lets me spend the $'s for some other wines... ?


                            2. re: Veggo

                              There IS a place with some '63s. I think that there are a few Cohibas (from some island off of Miami) stored near-by. However, as we all know, my memory is not what it once was, but I think I am correct. All it takes is a few rounds of golf and then an evening free...


                          2. I still don't have the answer I need on shelf life of an open bottle of Sherry. I have a Lustau Solera Reserva Pedro Ximenez San Emilio and have no idea -- again, a rookie -- if it is a Fino, Manzanilla or Amontillado. For how many days will it remain "good" after opening?

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: sherryrookie

                              Ah, a specific wine! Quick answer: you have very little to worry about.

                              Long answer (though far from complete):

                              ALL Sherries are produced from Palomino grapes and age as completely dry wines . . . except Pedro Ximenez (PX) and Moscatel. (More on these two below.)

                              IF a flor (flower) of film yeast develops on the surface of the new wine, it develops into a Fino (if cellared in Jerez), a Manzanilla (if cellared in SanlĂșcar de Barrameda, or a Puerto Fino (if cellared in Puerto de Santa Maria). IF these wines are bottled when young, they are best when only 15.5% in alcohol, and consumed while still fresh. These have the shortest shelf life, and once opened they should be consumed rather quickly.

                              If, however, they are allowed to mature longer, the flor eventually disappates, and the wine evolves into an Amontillado. True Amontillados are completely dry, and stunning.

                              If no flor develops (often because the wine was fortified to 18 percent alcohol, thus killing off any yeast), the result is an Oloroso -- dark, rich, and completely dry.

                              A Cream Sherry is a dry Oloroso that has been sweetened -- traditionally by the addition of PX (but now it is often sweetened with an inferior mistela of Palomino). This was the traditional role of PX, but some has always been bottled on its own. Your bottle of Lustau San Emilio is an example of this.

                              Because of the combination of high alcohol and high sugar, you can keep your PX after opening for quite some time. It's not indestructable, but it's one of the closest wines to being "bulletproof" that there is. It may lose some aromatics over a year, but you'd be hard pressed to notice unless you opened a fresh bottle and tried the two side-by-side.

                              1. re: sherryrookie

                                A PX will live very long, even when opened. Of the various Sherries, it will probably last as long as any other. I'd use a Vacu-vin stopper and stick it in the 'fridge, but you should get weeks our of an opened bottle.

                                Will it change over that time? Yes probably. Will you really notice? Probably not.


                              2. zin1953 wrote: "If no flor develops (often because the wine was fortified to 18 percent alcohol, thus killing off any yeast), the result is an Oloroso -- dark, rich, and completely dry."

                                Meaning that it will "last" longer than otherwise...say a few weeks? Or am I misunderstanding. I just bought a bottle of Osborne Oloroso--I'm used to drinking Lustau's Palo Cortado--and now wonder if it needs to be completed in days, weeks, or ? Thanks.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Gypsy Boy

                                  OK, let me try again -- sorry for not making myself clear the first time . . .

                                  In terms of how long one can keep an opened bottle, remember first that no Sherry improves once opened. Fino & Manzanilla are the most delicate of Sherries, and will fall apart rather quickly once opened. Amontillados are less so. Palo Cortados are about the same, perhaps a bit more sturdy. Olorosos are more sturdy still. The more "sturdy," the longer they will survive once opened.

                                  Finos and Manzanillas will indeed go "bad." The other categories won't go bad, per se -- they will not become "undrinkable," but they will fade over time, losing aromatics and some of their more delicate notes.

                                  All this is based upon the wines being "true" examples of their respective categories, i.e.: dry wines.

                                  Cream Sherry is often made of inferior grades of Sherry, called rayas, and fortified with a mistela of Palomino, rather than Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez. These often aren't that good anyway. A "true" Cream, Milk, Brown or India -- a true Oloroso sweetened with PX -- can be stunning. The sweetness coupled with the higher alcohol (18-20%) makes these more "fade-resistant" (how's that!) than a straight dry Oloroso.

                                  Straight PX is, as I said, pretty much bulletproof.

                                  Hope that clears it up . . .

                                  1. re: zin1953

                                    Yes, the higher alcohols and sweetness slow down the degradation. The other factor is that wines matured under flor have been protected from oxygen (hence the pale color) and the unique character they develop in that condition fades quickly once bottled and even more rapidly once the bottle is opened. Amontillado and Oloroso have already been oxidized to an extent, so the effect of opening the bottle and exposing them to air is not so dramatic a decline.

                                2. Another rookie here. I have a cheap bottle of "very dry oloroso sherry" by Domecq (Rio Viejo). I really enjoy the sherry but unfortunately can only get it in Europe (since it's not sold in the U.S.). Anyhow, I just got an unopened bottle that had been in somebody's cellar for an unknown period of time and opened it only to find that the taste was anything but pleasant. Specifically the initial flavor is a mix between the original flavor and some mixture between alcohol and sour. To avoid acquisition of similar bottles should I necessarily avoid older bottles of similar types of sherry. I was under the impression that a closed bottle of sherry would survive indefinitely. Any info for this type of Sherry would be greatly appreciated. Thanks a lot.

                                  16 Replies
                                  1. re: tofisterra

                                    Your "oloroso" should have been cellared in a cool dark humid controlled location at no more than 55* Farenheit without movement or hardly any fluctuations in temperature of even 15* up to 70*. This type of wine has less fortification than say a Creme Sherry which may last longer even opened. This brand of wine is lower in alcohol volume than most "olorosos", much like a fino which should be consumed immediately, however the typical shelf life of an oloroso is 2-3 years and once opened consumed immediately. It sounds as though your wine may have gotten cooked or aged by movement or temperature which happens after 70* Fareheit for speeding up the ageing process by almost 50% and 80* literally cooks it. I do not think you need to avoid this particular brand of sherry but any sherry with more fortification will last longer and true dry sherrys do not especially the ones from the US or California which are designed to be consumed immediately. This one is from Spain but the style is in the form of a fino with more oxidation than a fino. If you would like to hold sherry for many years check to see the VORs 10, 20 or 30 which means how long you may store it prior to consuming. Usually the vintage date is not displayed and also look for Premium bottling as well as how much fortification has been added to the fermenting process such as Creme Sherry which may be stored for up to 20-30 years such as a Moscatel or Pedro Ximenez. An "oloroso" also has a bit of a salty taste to be pared with sausage(chicharrones), shrimp(camarrones),etc...its tapas. A good tip is the darker white wines the longer you may store it....but all white wines need to be in a cool cellar. Make sure to check the seal, any cork that seems to be exposed is letting in oxygen and store upright to allow the least amount of surface area exposure. Hope that helps.

                                    1. re: Nymph

                                      Ooooh - I have a good one: I have a bottle of dark chocolate liqueur port 18%. it's 2/3rds full as it had been opened 4 or 5 YEARS ago. It's been completely sealed by a rubber cork stopper and left in a dark place ever since; thus, is it still safe to drink without getting sick, contracting botulism, or turning inside out? Just for the record I had a quick nip. Yes I did. Initially the bottle was absolutely sterile of any odors, yet the original flavor was still present - a couple of swirls and the o'l familiar aroma came back. It was very "hot", and despite a loss in quality of flavor, it didn't exactly repel me. In fact, I could go a glass or two for nostalgia's sake; hence my question :), or is the question unanswerable as it goes where no man has dared go before?

                                      1. re: Nymph

                                        Thank you for your post. I learned a lot. My thing though, Nymph is that I don't like storing these bottles upright even though I have heard that more times than not. By allowing it to stand upright, they will last a shorter period of time due to the cork drying out. That is why I can't understand the 'exposed surface area' bit. Can you explain all of this further?

                                        1. re: creamsherry

                                          Fortified wines are different than table wines.

                                          General rule-of-thumb: wines sealed with a "regular" cork should be stored laying down; wines sealed with a T-cork (a plastic-topped bit of cork, as with most Sherries, some Porto, and many distillates) are meant to be stored standing upright.

                                          1. re: zin1953

                                            there are a lot of recommendations to store these wines upright though, and we both know that the older vintages just have regular corks. I guess it just depends on the length of time someone plans to hold onto a bottle.

                                            1. re: creamsherry

                                              I think perhaps we have misunderstood each other . . .

                                              Premium TABLE wines are either sealed with natural corks, which require the bottle to be stored laying down. Other closures include Stelvins (screw caps), and various forms of amalgamated or artificial cork.

                                              Premium FORTIFIED wines have long been sealed (for generations) with either T-corks (virtually all Sherries, for example, as well as virtually non-vintage dated Porto and Madeira) or -- in the case of vintage-dated wines meant for long-term aging -- are sealed with "regular" corks that need to be stored horizontally.

                                              Nothing I've seen posted in this thread suggests that table or fortified wines sealed with natural cork closures should be stored for any significant time in any position other than horizontally.

                                              Nothing I've seen posted in this thread suggests that table wines or fortified wines sealed with either T-corks or screw cap closures should, or even need, to be stored horizontally -- vertically is fine, and I've *never* had a wine sealed with a T-cork become ruined, or have the cork dry out, from vertical storage. Then again, I've never stood one of these wines upright for, say, 20+ years . . . but five? even ten? No problem.


                                              1. re: zin1953

                                                OK thank you. Yes, my vintage ports are regular corks but I need to check some of the cheaper imports with regards to the fortifieds and what cork they have. I will google T-cork as well.

                                                1. re: creamsherry

                                                  There are many ways to categorize Porto . . .

                                                  One version of an outline (hard to do when you can't use tabs) of Porto would look something like this. Keep in mind, by the way, that there are many different ways to do this outline; also, this applies only to real (i.e.: Portuguese) Porto.

                                                  1. Ruby Porto (defined as red Porto wines bottled with less than seven years of wood aging).

                                                  1a. No indication of age.
                                                  1a1. True Ruby Porto, bottled very young.
                                                  1a2. Vintage Character Porto (a fuller, "beefier" style of Ruby Porto).
                                                  1a3. Crusted Porto (a non-vintage blend of between four-and-six years of age).

                                                  1b. Ruby Ports with a Vintage date.
                                                  1b1. Late Bottled Vintage Porto (by law, bottled between 4-6 years of vintage -- note, numbers here are rounded off).
                                                  1b1a. Traditional, unfined, unfiltered (this will improve with further bottle aging).
                                                  1b1b. "Regular" (fined and/or filtered; generally doesn't improve with bottle age).
                                                  1b2. Vintage Porto.
                                                  1b2a. True Vintage Porto (a producer's "main," showcase product -- by law, bottled two years after vintage [again, rounded] and capable of great improvement with added bottle age).
                                                  1b2b. Single-quinta Vintage Porto (either from a small, estate, or from a large producer, but made from a single estate; again, bottled two years after vintage [again, rounded] and capable of great improvement with added bottle age).
                                                  1b2c. Second label Vintage Porto (generally from a large producer, but bottled under a "second label" -- generally these are fine Vintage Porto, but not considered "good enough" to be bottled until the producer's main trademark).

                                                  2. Tawny Porto -- red Porto wines bottled with 7+ years of wood aging.

                                                  2a. No indication of age.
                                                  2a1. Young Tawny (often a mix of Ruby and Tawny).
                                                  2a2. True Tawny Porto.
                                                  2a3. Tawny Reserva, a usually branded bottling of Tawny Porto that is "older" than the "true" Tawny Porto.

                                                  2b. With a general indication of age.
                                                  2b1. 10-Year Tawny Porto.
                                                  2b2. 20-Year Tawny Porto.
                                                  2b3. 30-Year Tawny Porto.
                                                  2b4. 40-Year Tawny Porto.

                                                  2c. With a specific indication of age.
                                                  2c1. Colheita Porto.
                                                  2c2. Garrafeira Porto.

                                                  3. White Porto.

                                                  3a. Bottled young.
                                                  3a1. Dry.
                                                  3a2. Sweet.

                                                  3b. Bottled after 7+ years of wood aging.
                                                  3b1. Dry.
                                                  3b2. Sweet.

                                                  * * * * *

                                                  True Tawny Porto comes in three categories:

                                                  a) with no age statement at all, and relatively inexpensive (some are actually blends of Ruby and White; but a true Tawny Porto must spend at least seven years in wood prior to bottling);

                                                  b) those with a rough indication of age (10-Year, 20-Year, 30-Year, and 40-Year);

                                                  c) Tawny Porto from a single harvest, i.e.: Colheita Porto.

                                                  To MY taste, I tend to enjoy 10's and 20's (older than that and, to my taste, they are often too woody and lose too much fruit), but Colheitas are sublime. But they can be quite expensive. I would first explore other 10- and 20-Year Tawnies and discover the other flavors and characters found in the offerings from other producers. I'd look for producers like Barros, Neipoort, and Noval (to name but three). Taylor is quite good, but I confess I prefer these three.

                                                  For inexpensive Tawnies, I actually prefer the Tawnies from Australia -- wines such as Hardy's "Whiskers' Blake" or Yalumba's "Clocktower" -- to the "true" low-end Tawny Porto . . . except for cooking. Then I use true Porto.

                                                  Colheitas are from a single year's harvest, but are NOT Vintage Porto -- even though no wine from another year was blended into it. These age for at least 7 years in wood, and will carry *both* the calendar year of harvest and the calendar year of bottling on the bottle. Thus you could have (for example) a 1981 Colheita bottled in 1988 -- but you could also have a 1981 Colheita bottled in 1994 or in 2007 . . . .

                                                  / / / / /

                                                  Porto can, as you can see from the above, be either white or red. Certainly the red accounts for most of the wine produced, but in fact over 40 different grape varieties -- both red and white -- go into making Porto.

                                                  All Vintage Porto as well as LBV Porto and Cohleita/Garrafeira -- in other words, any Porto with a specific statement of age -- will (virtually) always have a "regular" cork closure. Those wines without a specific age statement -- in other words, those meant to be consumed shortly after bottling -- will be sealed with T-corks.


                                                  1. re: zin1953

                                                    Excellent and educational summary, zin. All I could add to your alpha-numeric catalogue system would be:

                                                    0.shit. Any port in a storm.

                                                    1. re: zin1953

                                                      It's like being in wine class! Thanks for re-posting this. Wonderful as always, Jason.

                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                        Me, too.

                                                        I hope creamsherry appreciates the level of education available on this board.

                                                      2. re: zin1953

                                                        As one of my workmates has said, "why just be obsessive, when you can be obsessive AND compulsive?"
                                                        I mean that with respect and admiration! Great to have such detail available, Thank you.

                                                        1. re: zin1953

                                                          PS- I am still clueless about tcorks but that is my own doing as you did your best explaining that. I can however definately differentiate all kinds of ports, sherries, ect you mentioned

                                                      3. re: zin1953

                                                        Zin I noticed my sherries getting damp(but not leaking) from storing laying down so I wanted to mention. These creams, amontillados, fino are spain imports very thick dark bottles black. One is ozbourne(bull). I was surprised...is this due to the thicker content w/brandy or whats the deal? either way I shouldve listened when you said store upright but nothing leaked just the label discolored a little. I noticed this on one I bought one time but the rest happened in my possession...not sure if that is the cork being ridiculous or not?

                                                        1. re: creamsherry

                                                          No, the cork is fine. But T-corks are not designed to be stored laying down, so . . .

                                                          1. re: zin1953

                                                            I rectified that situation! I don't want my bottles facing untimely deaths!!

                                            2. I have an ancient bottle of Amontillado. How long could it be good for unopened? Label is Manuel Fernandez "comodoro" Only date mentioned is for gold medal at 1904 St. Louis Exhibition.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: shinyrobot

                                                CAN YOU POST A PICTURE OF THIS BOTTLE?

                                                1. re: creamsherry

                                                  It's been two years since the original post. I'm guessing no to the picture!
                                                  A google search shows Manuel Fernandez to be an owner of the Comodoro supermarket in Florida. Could this be a house or family brand? Mr. Fernandez and the market could be named after the family and award-winning port for all I know.

                                              2. I like to have a nice to very nice port and sherry living comfortably in the house. Well, in a dark cool cabinet, but they seem to feel safe and happy there. Even with guests, we don't go through a bottle in a weekend.
                                                There are wine-saving gadgets that evacuate air and reseal the bottle, or replace the air with nitrogen. Either, if effective, would sharply reduce oxidation and the escape of those aromatics that linger after the first opening.
                                                I have a Foodsaver, so I use the bottle sealing attachments. Your mileage may vary, but I find my ports and sherries last very considerably longer in good drinking condition.
                                                Reviews of these gadgets are not favorable for brief storage of wine; but I wouldn't expect them to be, except with a couple uncommon whites I know of. I wish there were reviews of longer storage (I'm talking many months) of fortified wines. My experience has been good.
                                                I know "many months" sounds - is - long; but oxidizing air is introduced only for only minutes - seconds if you're obsessive about it (I'm raising my hand) - then removed. It's not much different than leaving the wine sealed. It could take a dozen openings to introduce as much air - or volatile escape opportunity - as you would get in two days resealing with a cork or sealer without having removed most of the oxygen. Of course the systems aren't perfect - some O2 will remain - but not much.
                                                Again, your mileage may vary - but for me this is substantially preferable to spoilage, doing without, or drinking a quarter bottle after having paid for the whole thing.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Docshiva

                                                  interesting...Another tally on my mental board of whether or not to buy a Foodsaver.

                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                    No issue in my household. Any cork I pop will yield an empty bottle for the next weeks' recycle bag.

                                                2. Don't go crazy over this. Not necessary. Both will last forever - even after opening - in your pantry. Been there, done that.

                                                  6 Replies
                                                  1. re: Breezychow

                                                    Cooking sherry? Sure!

                                                    Real Sherry or Porto? No.

                                                    Now it's one thing to say the wines will go bad, i.e.: taste like $#!+ and be harmful to human health. They will NOT! Well . . . they won't be harmful to your health, at least. But have you ever tasted a bottle of Fino after three weeks in your pantry (let alone three months or three years)? It WILL taste like $#!+ -- absolutely!

                                                    The differences in a Cream Sherry *may* be less noticeable (Fino will change from a pale yellow-gold to an unappetizing amber), but there will *still* be differences in both the aroma and on the palate between, say, an Amontillado, an Oloroso, or a Cream Sherry opened yesterday and one opened three months ago. The same is true for Porto -- the more delicate (think older Tawny), the more obvious the difference is once opened.

                                                    To say they "will last forever" is factually incorrect and misleading to people who read this. The changes *are* there, and are obvious -- even among the most casual drinkers (especially if presented with two glasses, once from a "freshly opened" bottle, and one from a bottle opened many months ago). Certainly the shelf life of a "standard" Ruby Porto or Cream Sherry IS longer than a table wine. This is true even with "imitations" from Australia or from the US, although the way Aussie Tawnies are made, they will indeed last longer once open that true Tawny Porto (from Portugal). But "last forever"? No way.


                                                    1. re: zin1953

                                                      Will a cheap Tawny port like Croft or a Aussie port like Whiskers Blake last for months or should they be consumed within a couple of weeks?

                                                      1. re: kriminalrat

                                                        Define "last." Will it kill you if you drink it six months after you open it? No. On the other hand, will it be as good, delicious, aromatic, and flavorful six months after opening as it was when you first opened it? Absolutely not!

                                                        Three months later? Nope!

                                                        Now, keep in mind that the Aussies do *NOT* make port. They make something different, albeit labeled "Port." In terms of the methods of production, Australian Tawnies are something more akin to Sherry and Madeira than true (Portuguese) Porto, particularly in terms of "shelf life." That means that an Australian like Hardy's Whiskers Blake will last longer than the least expensive Tawny Porto produced by Croft in Portugal, but both will suffer the longer they sit open . . .

                                                        Also -- limiting the discussion to *just* true Tawny Porto -- the younger the Tawny (vaguely oxymoronic), the longer it will remain "intact," so to speak. The older the Tawny Porto, the more delicate it is and the faster it falls apart.

                                                        1. re: zin1953

                                                          I have heard that too....better with age but 'on the way out' pretty much after opening

                                                      2. re: zin1953

                                                        I left an opened10 year old ruby porto for months in my basement, and altho' cloudy, the taste was delicious......

                                                        1. re: LEOFONT

                                                          a) There is no such thing as a 10-Year Old Ruby Porto. By definition/regulation, if a wine is aged in cask for seven years or more, it is a Tawny.

                                                          b) While I am very happy for you that you enjoyed the wine, I have no doubt whatsoever that is was also better when first opened.

                                                    2. I'm not very sophisticated at the moment and was wondering if this bottle of 97 liqueur muscat (Morris Wines- local footy club label?) can be drunk. It's possible it's been open since then but is mostly full and was found corked and lying on its side. Tastes pretty sweet but not too bad, considering it's not my drop, un fussy though I am. Essentially it's a health and safety inquiry. We're keen to carry on and new legislation sprang up overnight shaving 2 hrs off the closing time for takeaways. What can happen? Are there any easy tips for a layperson to gauge the health of the contents in question. Sooner the better. Thanks

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: badatmath

                                                        No known human pathogen can live in wine . . .

                                                      2. I have an unopened bottle of cream sherry. Found in the back of a cupboard when clearing out an elderly family members house.. Will it be ok we think it may be more than 20 years old.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: NataleneGibson

                                                          hygiene-wise it is probably fine, as long as it remains soundly sealed. depending on the sherry it may or may not be worth drinking.

                                                          1. re: NataleneGibson

                                                            Well, it's not going to kill you, that's for sure. Whether it's actually worth drinking is another question. Care to tell us *exactly* what it is? Then we can provide you with a more specific answer . . .