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How long is old wine good for cooking?

How many days do I have to use red wine after opening it, for cooking? How long for white wine?

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  1. Taste it. If you wouldn't drink it, don't use it for cooking.

    1 Reply
    1. re: todao

      Leftover wine?? This does not compute..............

    2. I reduce my "left over' wine to a syrup; and that keeps for a long time.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

        That's interesting. I wonder what it does, chemically -- cook off some of the alcohol and increase the concentration of sugars and other assorted trace chemicals that aren't prone to spoilage?

        1. re: jlafler

          Anyway, it provides all the flavor, doesn't go bad, and takes up little room in the ref.

      2. Horrible guilty admission. I keep leftover red wine in a bottle in the fridge for weeks - er, months even. I add to it if more comes along.And then I use it in something eventually. I have never - I swear NEVER - had a bad result that might be blamed on the wine. Caveat: I reserve this stuff for dishes that require long simmering and would never never consider drinking it.

        More or less thesame goes for white but I use it less often so I rarely have any leftover. It also tends to be used differently in cooking - less simmering - so maybe could come across a little worse if the wine is off.

        Please don't banish me from Chowhound.

        16 Replies
        1. re: Nyleve

          Same here. And, the maxim never to cook with anything you would not eat is bunk: The New York Times did a blind taste test on this hypothesis a few years ago and concluded that cooking with a less expensive bottle of wine (say, "Two Buck Chuck") generally does not produce an inferior dish.

          1. re: masha

            My cousin does the same (mixing all wines into a container kept in the fridge), and her husband actually prefers its flavour to other wines...

            A friend opened a bottle of wine purchased at a vineyard and realised it had gone. While pouring it down the sink, her French friend exclaimed it was a double tragedy--one for the wine going bad, the other for wasting the wine down the sink instead of finding another use for it (cooking, making into vinagre...).

            Back to the OPs question--if kept refrigerated, quite a while if you're going to cook with it. Opened on the counter, maximum 1-3 days for drinking (possibly more if the air is pumped out), if you're determining use based on the idea that it must be drinkable.

            1. re: Caralien

              I presume you mean the friend's wine had started to go sour. If it's corked, there's really nothing you can do with it.

              1. re: jlafler

                There's always something that can be done with wine. The bottle was discovered to be bad upon opening, but I agree with what most people have written and that it could be used for something, minimally a vinagre starter, to flavour a tomato sauce which is too sweet, etc.

                1. re: Caralien

                  If it's corked it's going to taste and smell like mildew. I really don't know what you can do with it then. If it's just gone sour, fine.

                  1. re: jlafler

                    Wrap a wheel of mild cheese in leaves and soak it in the mildewy wine to see what will happen? :)

            2. re: masha

              I think the maxim is really referring to the use of so called 'cooking' wines you find in the supermarket. Since I would drink a Two Buck CHuck and other fairly inexpensive wines (under $10), I certainly have no problem using them in cooking and would be surprised if anyone could pick out a dish made with a more expensive wine considering it is just one component of the dish.

              1. re: bnemes3343

                I agree. I drink "two buck chuck" and I use it for cooking. But I would never use one of those "cooking" wines, nearly all of which contain salt and who knows what else, because - believe it or not - you can taste a difference. If you're going to use any wine that has soured, you may as well use vinegar. Mixing wine? Now there's a novel idea. Preparing a Chicken Marsala with a bottle of "mixed" wines would not produce Chicken Marsale. Would you prepare a red sauce for Italian pasta dishes with a "mixed" supply of wine? Would you serve a Chicken Divan (which typically calls for Cream Sherry) that was made with that mixed bottle? I can't believe any of those comments about using mixed wines are genuine.

                1. re: todao

                  Think what you will but yes, I do mix wines and use them in cooking. No, I wouldn't use some kind of mishmash of wine to make chicken Marsala because, clearly, the dish depends on the particular flavour of Marsala wine. And no, I wouldn't use mishmash red wine to make a chicken divan either. But when a recipe calls for 1 cup of "red" wine, yes, I will blithely add one cup of my finest leftover whatnot and it works just fine. This is not rocket science. It's cooking. And while I have tremendous respect for the provenance of certain dishes that are an expression of their origin, I also have respect for the impoverished peasants who have always cooked fine food using what they happened to have. Mishmash red wine in red sauce for pasta? Certainly! Tomatoes are acidic and the suace is strongly flavoured and cooks for a long time - unless you are one of those supertasters I defy you to pick it out of a lineup.

                  Would I use supermarket "cooking wine"? Never.

                  1. re: Nyleve

                    You beat me to it, Nyleve. No decent cook would substitute some random mix of red wine for a sherry or port. But for that matter they wouldn't substitute an expensive, freshly opened red for sherry, nor would they substitute sauvignon blanc for cabernet sauvignon. Todao, let's leave fortified wines aside for now, but exactly what is the correct variety of grape to use in a red sauce? And if there are more than one, what's the harm of mixing them?

                    1. re: Zeldog

                      After I posted, I was thinking about this. Let's say, for instance, that you're making a braised beef or lamb dish with red wine, or a red sauce, or anything else that might call for loosely defined "red wine" as an ingredient. And let's say you have an open bottle of cabernet in the fridge from last week or two weeks ago. And then let's further say that you measure out the wine and - oops! there's not quite enough. So you either open another bottle of a different wine or use the remainder of another wine you already have open and you top up the amount you need. Would that me less unacceptable than chucking the two wines into the same bottle to use at another time? I just don't think there's a practical day-to-day cook that would hesitate to mix two different wines in a recipe that doesn't really call for a very specific wine. I think it just "seems" wrong because we aren't in the habit of doing that for drinking. Wineries make wine blends all the time - ok maybe in a more refined way - but still, they're blends. It's not a crime.

                      1. re: Nyleve

                        Good point. I'm certainly never finicky about that if the wines are similar enough in general character (e.g. dry red with dry red).

              2. re: masha

                Correction to my original post: I do not mix wine from various bottles when I save it for cooking. I'd not read Nyleve's post carefully enough. But at any given moment we typically have a partial bottle of red and one of white in the fridge, which may have been open for a month or more. If it is under 1 week old, we may have a drink the bottle, but otherwise use it exclusively for cooking. (and, we do have a vacuum pump, so that does preserve the partial bottles for drinking for a bit).

                1. re: masha

                  ditto: no time limit on cooking w/ refrigerated wine. I believe the maxim means don't cook with wine you would take a sip of and spit out......not merely wine that is below your standards for drinking.

                  1. re: masha

                    I don't buy Two Buck Chuck, but I can't remember when I last bought a bottle of anything (intended for cooking) that cost more than $9.99. (Though, when cooking with Champagne, that requires a split, to stay within my guideline.)

                    And, I don't mix wines into others, but I also sometimes have a bottle of wine in the fridge for weeks. *Most*, though not all dishes, I'm only using somewhere between a half-cup to a cup-and-a-half to cook. Unless I used the same wine to prepare dinner everynight, which I would find awfully tedious, there's no way I can use up the bottle within the same time frame one would have to drink up a bottle.

                  2. re: Nyleve

                    I do the same thing. I still have a bottle of two buck chuck I opened probably in the summer. I only use two buck chuck for cooking. But I don't mix wines.

                  3. try freezing in ice cube trays.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: jggabel

                      I freeze mine too, in fact New Year's Day I froze some leftover champagne for when I feel like making mussels, which might be a couple of months from now.

                      1. re: julesrules

                        Ditto on that. I remember seeing a piece by a wine expert and they tested wines that had been frozen vs those kept in other ways--they could taste no difference. Now if only I had leftover wine... On another note, I have been amazed how long Prosecco and Champagne stay fizzy if recorked and refrigerated. I've pulled bottles out after a couple of weeks and they were still fine to drink, baring that they're great for a risotto.

                    2. An open bottle of wine will eventually turn to vinegar, literally. But it takes time, especially if you keep the wine corked and/or in the fridge. Or you could just embrace the vinegar idea and make your own at home. I've never done it, but people who do say it produces much better vinegar than you can get commercially.

                      1. Refrigerated red wine, in my experience, is good for cooking for at least a month. (You may have to strain out sediment, though, that collects at the bottom of the bottle after opening.) Refrigerated white wine I am more doubtful about, considering how quickly it deteriorates when unrefrigerated. I have never kept refrigerated white wine very long but would guess you could keep it about two weeks before it starts getting a maderized flavor.

                        As for the "Don't cook with wine, if you wouldn't drink it," I agree with Todao. I think that that saying is stating the obvious. If a wine is so unpleasant that you wouldn't drink it, cooking with it is not going to improve the flavor. But cooking with vin ordinaire is fine. I drink vin ordinaire all the time. Similarly, I drink 1.5 liter half empty bottles of red Woodbridge or Gallo which are three to four weeks old occasionally. The stuff tastes fine, although not outstanding. So I have no problem cooking with it ,either.

                        1. Damn, I had no idea this forum was so active. Thank you all for a kick-ass discussion on this subject.

                          Just curious...how long does it take, roughly, for red wine to turn to vinegar. I've been aging some red wine in hopes that it will "turn" for about 6 months and it's still not close to vinegar.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: doublejnyc

                            From what I've read on the subject, I understand you would need to introduce some bacterial culture (I am told that air borne bacteria will work if you leave it open to the environment but I don't know how accurate that is) and stir it from time to time to re-introduce oxygen to the liquid (To support the bacterial growth) and I've read that it is important to be sure the bacterial that is introduced is non-toxic. This, supposedly, has to be done at a temperature of somewhere around 60 - 80 degrees for four to six weeks.
                            My own interests are focused too keenly on cooking to get involved with lab experiments so it is unlikely that I will ever try it. If you do, let us know how it works out please.

                            1. re: doublejnyc

                              My biggest surprise was that people have a lot of leftover wine. Aside from parties, our wine doesn't last that long--consumed that evening or the next.

                              1. re: Caralien

                                There are times when we open a bottle for cooking purposes only and don't drink any, typically when we are home alone during the week. In fact, we keep 2 buck chuck on hand specifically for this purpose.

                            2. I pour it into small zip lock bags and freeze it. Then when I need a bit of wine for a stew or sauce, I don't need to open a fresh bottle.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: critter101

                                Love that idea, critter. I usually freeze the leftover juice in canned tomatoes, or in the rare can of fruit I use (if it's the pure fruit juice, versus a syrup). I don't know why I never thought of it--more convenient for me personally than using ice trays. Thank you for the tip.

                              2. Ok, so I was really dubious about this thread. I thought I would have had months to use it up before it turned to vinegar.

                                But anyway, with the holiday season and everything, I didn't get around to finishing up a bottle, and it sat in the fridge uncorked for about 3 weeks. I threw it in my ragu bolognese yesterday, and I think it has a slight vinegary taste (which I'll try to get rid of with a little sugar.)

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: jaykayen

                                  Did you taste the wine (just a taste - not a serious gulp) before adding to the bolognese?

                                  It's been my experience that it takes so freaking long for wine to turn into vinegar - even during the summer months at room temperature - that this will never happen in a fridge without you adding some kind of vinegar starter. I've had an open bottle of wine sitting in a wide-mouth jar (with cheesecloth covering the opening) for MONTHS and nothing happened. I'm not saying the wine would be good for drinking, but it certainly didn't turn into vinegar. When I keep open wine for cooking, I refrigerate it, usually with a stopper. It may become stale and somewhat oxidized, but never sour.

                                  1. re: Nyleve

                                    I was wrong, as I let the bolognese sit in the fridge for a day, and the taste went away.

                                    No, I didn't taste it beforehand, as, of course, I had tasted it when it was freshly opened, and no way would wine turn in 3 weeks.

                                    1. re: Nyleve

                                      It will only ferment into vinegar if it is an organic wine/homemade or otherwise. There are too
                                      many sulfites and such put into commercial wines to make fermenting possible in the traditional and healthy way. Therefore, if it's already been MONTHS, it probably isn't organic
                                      or you live in the artic and it's just not warm enough for wild fermentation to take place. :)

                                  2. ...What? I thought wine lasts for a long time D=!