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How long does wine keep?

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I'm a non-drinker, however, if a recipe calls for wine I do use regular drinking wine for it. The problem is I always end up with an almost-full bottle of wine lying around in the fridge (capped) for a long period of time.

I don't own a corker and I don't want to keep buying large bottles of wine to simply use a small fraction of it for one recipe. So, I guess what I'm asking is how long can I continue to use that opened, refrigerated bottle of wine for cooking before it becomes unsafe?

I guess I can use the small airplane bottles...but I have a really hard time finding those...and there isn't much variety.

Thanks!

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  1. Put the unused wine in ice cube trays and freeze it. Then just use a piece each time you need some. Otherwise, most reds last two-three days normally and whites can sometimes go for about a week, as long as both are in the fridge.

    2 Replies
    1. re: invinotheresverde

      +1 Agree on the reds--freeze it up--but I keep white wine in the frig for cooking and it is fine for weeks.

      1. re: escondido123

        It definitely depends on the wine. I've not experienced whites being much to drink after being open for a week. To cook with only, perhaps longer.

    2. You might also consider these/ They're generally available in the larger liquor stores:

      http://consumerist.com/2010/06/like-j...

      1. I buy the four packs of small bottles (I guess that's what you call "airplane bottles"); they are readily available around me and are about 3/4 of a cup-- which is often just about what one needs for a recipe. Yes there's only a limited variety, but IMHO for cooking they are just fine.

        1. As surprised as I was to learn about the freezing technique, I've come to accept that it will work fine for cooking purposes. If that's not something you're comfortable with, the next best no-cost thing for you to do is to keep transferring the leftover wine to smaller and smaller containers. It's contact with air (in addition to temperature) that degrades wine the fastest, so containers with little or no air space are helpful for a week or so.
          Sensitivity to changes in wine vary widely, but these methods will work for most people.

          1. Get yourself a couple 375ml and 187ml split bottles and a few trial stoppers and put in your fridge. If you want to get fancy (or the wine is $$), Vac-U-Vin or sparge with a little argon before stoppering. For cooking purposes, you should be good for 2-3 weeks, easy.

            1 Reply
            1. re: kaleokahu

              Good suggestion, i've been using 200 ml and 400 ml glass "flasks" with the rubber seal ceramic snap tops. Since my wife doesn't drink wine I can say sample a glass with dinner by filling the 400 ml (to the top, no air) and put it in the fridge and have a nice size pour to have with dinner. Next night if I plan to have a couple of glasses of a different wine, I'll fill the 200 ml and polish off the rest.

              Another solution, consider one of the higher quality box wines. I discovered a nice white for cooking and sipping, La Petit Frog's Picpoul de Pinet (3 litre), and a Cab Franc, Marc Plouzeau's Chinon (5 litre). Keep the white in the fridge and the red on the counter, out here on the left coast they were 32.99 and 49.99 respectively at The Wine Country just south of the Long Beach airport.

            2. "I'm a non-drinker, however, if a recipe calls for wine I do use regular drinking wine for it. The problem is I always end up with an almost-full bottle of wine lying around in the fridge (capped) for a long period of time."

              What's "a long time"? A month? Six months?
              _________________

              "I guess what I'm asking is how long can I continue to use that opened, refrigerated bottle of wine for cooking before it becomes unsafe?"

              I don't think you should have to worry about food safety issues on refrigerated wine for - what? - 12 months? You're not talking about drinking qualities, right? Just health/safety issues?

              I think most boxed wines should be good for drinking for at least 4 weeks WITHOUT refrigeration. I'd think a minimum of 12 weeks (for drinking) if refrigerated. (The bladders collapse as you dispense the wine, so no air mixes in to start the oxidation process.) For cooking, their life might be close to 24 months.

              Or, you could do what the Romans did & "seal" your open bottle by pouring a layer of olive oil on top of the wine. You're probably using olive oil when you add wine to a recipe anyway, right? :-) Who needs a stinkin' refrigerator?

              Woo-hoo! Break out the fish sauce!

              23 Replies
              1. re: Eiron

                Not sure from your post how seriously you're into this, but............

                If you subscribe to the belief that you should only cook with wine that you would drink then this is really not so much an issue of health/safety. My opinion is that, after a wine has oxidized enough that it is no longer palatable, it will leave undesirable flavors in whatever you're cooking. I don't know that I can prove that, but it makes sense to me.

                As to your thought that with boxed wines "The bladders collapse as you dispense the wine, so no air mixes in to start the oxidation process."............... I have a feeling that some air does get into the wine (some level of back-flow). I've also been reading that boxed wine usually has a total shelf life of up to 12 months and has a 'use by' date on it. That 12 months starts when the wine is boxed, not when you buy it. Again, this is not necessarily a health/safety thing but a taste/quality issue.

                Just my 2¢.

                1. re: Midlife

                  I understand where you're coming from. I'm just trying to respond to OP's concerns. The comments of "2-3 days" is completely unrealistic relative to the OP's question.

                  Personally, I never have wine sitting around long enought to worry about its taste or its safety. However, I must also say that I don't expect a wine to taste "just opened" on the 2nd day. On those occasions where my bottle lasts for more than a week (due to a business trip, perhaps?), I'll expect the wine to taste different than when I first opened it.

                  I recently purchased a box of Black Box & found it very consistant over its three weeks of consumption. Not necessarily to my liking, but very consistant none the less. (I'd much rather drink a "degrading" bottle of something else.)

                  Of course, at my geographic altitude (5,000+ ft), I have to deal with other issues when opening a bottle corked near sea level.

                  1. re: Eiron

                    What are your issues at 5,000 feet? I've opened lots of bottles in Mammoth Lakes, CA (7,800 feet) and never noticed any problems.

                    Re the original topic....... I didn't notice any comments referencing 2-3 days above but I would agree that there would be no health/safety issues at that point. I couldn't see any such problems for many months and then I'd think the wine would have to be un-refrigerated and at rather high temps for it to really go bad.

                    1. re: Midlife

                      That is an odd comment. I lived in Denver (~ 5280 AMSL), and have opened and consumed wine at Leadville, CO (~ 10,500 AMSL), and even up Yankee Boy Basin, approaching ! 13,000 AMSL). No issues. Now, I cannot recall having any Champagne in Leadville, or higher, but we opened tons in Denver.

                      I am curious what these other issues are. Maybe I missed something.

                      Hunt

                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        E Hunt, Aloha: Yes, a little odd without elaboration, but Eiron knows his stuff. My highest bottle, at the summit of El Pico de Orizaba, aka Citlaltépetl, 18,490', had no problems, but hey, I didn't want any extra cerebral edema waiting to see how it kept. The buzz, though, drinking at alititude...

                        We need a wine thread about The Highest Bottle, don't you think?

                        Aloha

                        1. re: kaleokahu

                          The buzz is something I'm aware of but Eiron refers to issues with regard to bottles corked at sea level. What's that about?

                        2. re: Bill Hunt

                          Midlife & Hunt, sorry, didn't mean to be cryptic, just didn't want to bring in extraneous points that weren't germane to the topic at hand (mostly because I don't frequent this CH "neighborhood" very often & so don't know the neighbors well enough to presume).

                          I'll preface my comments with the admission that I rarely drink any wine that's not red. I've had many excellent whites, especially when I was waiting tables in SoCal & familiarizing ourselves with different varietals & brands was required of the job. But my wife prefers not-quite-semi-dry Riesling & white Merlot, which I refuse to drink unless under duress, & she has no interest in the oaky/smokey whites I might choose. And I generally wouldn't choose them in front of a nice red. Thus, if I'm going to open my own bottle, it's going to be red. I mention this only because I can't say you'll see the same issues with whites as I experience with reds.

                          Okay, so, to the point: I live in Loveland, CO, about an hour north & 300' below Denver (~4980'). The issues I have at this altitude are really a singular effect with multiple manifestations. (So is that "an issue," or multiple issues?) If you're finishing a bottle in a single evening, you may not notice this effect. If you decant your bottle & let it breathe for at least an hour, you probably won't notice this effect. But I typically open a bottle & have a single glass, then recork the bottle & stick it back down in the basement. (Additional drone of info: my wine rack is flush against the bare concrete basement wall. I keep an informally calibrated analog thermometer next to the bottles year round. The measured annual temps typically range from 58F to 62F, with lo/hi extremes of 56F & 64F.)

                          The effect I experience is best described as an "outgassing." I've noticed it most strongly with some Sangioveses, but I couldn't begin to explain why them. In the most obvious cases, the wine will have a "bite" or "tanginess" in the glass that concentrates around the 10-15 minute mark. It's almost an effervescence, but not really. I sense it mostly on the front of my tongue.

                          The best explanation I can rationalize is that the change in atmospheric pressure allows the gases captured in solution to escape. Near sea level, you have 100% of "one atmosphere" of pressure, or 14.7 psi. At 5,000' you have about 83% of 1 atm, or about 12.1 psi. (Why water boils at 202F here instead of the 212F it does at sea level.) When the seal is removed from the bottle, the change in atmospheric pressure at the surface of the wine allows the atmosphere the wine was made in (the air) to migrate out of solution & stabilize the liquid to the new, lower pressure.

                          Now let's walk down to the basement. The opened bottle has had the cork inserted about 1/3 of the way in. This makes a secure seal, but allows removal by hand. The recorked bottle, if left on its side the way the rack is built, will have a slight nose-down orientation. Good for keeping the cork wet, yes? (If you subscribe to this idea, of course.) The problem, as you might've already guessed, is that the outgassing liquid creates pressure inside the bottle. If I leave the bottle at this angle (as I did when I first bought this rack), the excess pressure created by the atmospheric stabilization of the liquid will force the liquid past the reinserted cork. Oh, & also out thru the spiral hole created by the corkscrew. I've got nice, juicy, 9 yr old stains on the wood & concrete that my wife notices once every 18 months & asks me if I know my wine is leaking. :-)

                          I now place the neck of my 1-glass-less bottle on a block of wood while in the rack, to keep the cork above the wine. (I could also just stand the bottle up on top of the rack, but for some reason I don't.) When I pull out the cork the next night for my 2nd glass of wine, the cork gives a perky "pop!" of escaped gas that I didn't get the previous night. Nor do I usually get that pop on the third night.

                          So them's my issues with altitude: should-be-still wine that wants to normalize itself, in my glass, to its new environment; & drippy corks that have me jerry-rigging my nice wine rack.

                          Yeah, I know, "life's tough pal...." :-D
                          _______________________________

                          kal, good idea on the Highest Bottle thread! I'm a wuss compared to you: I've only had beer & wine at 9,400'. But it WAS after cycling 80 miles over three mtn passes (up to 11,300'). Does that give me an altitude handicap?

                          1. re: Eiron

                            I have a WE Legacy counter mounted type corkscrew that allows you to re-insert the cork completely (which I rarely have any reason to do). Curious if this might solve the leakage problem?

                            1. re: PolarBear

                              Hi PolarBear, it's really more of desire on my part to insert the cork 1/3 of the way. I could just as easily push it all the way in, but that means I'd need to use the corkscrew again to remove it. That "feels wrong" on a bottle that's already opened. (Sorry, is my OCD showing again? :-D)

                              But you do cause me to wonder - would a fully reinserted cork still leak? My suspicion is, "Yes," but.... I believe a test is in order! My current opened bottle ('06 Ironstone Cabernet Franc) is still half full, which means the next new bottle would be opened Monday evening at the earliest. That puts the test results out to Tuesday evening, with reporting on Wednesday, as long as life proceeds normally.

                              1. re: Eiron

                                The "outgassing" concept is way over my head. I'm not doubting what you describe, but I've never experienced it and have no scientific credentials with which to discuss it.

                                I do wonder, however, why you'd need to store a partial bottle laying down and worry about leakage. Do corks dry out in just the few days of storage? Why not leave the bottle vertical? Even if it's on the floor. Is there still an atmospheric pressure issue in that position?

                                Have you ever injected Argon (or other inert gas) into the bottle before re-corking? Would that help or make the pressure thing worse?

                                Also................ if you're not using some method of oxidation prevention I'd wonder of part of the taste difference you find might not be from that. Just trying to use what I DO know to possibly illuminate what I don't here.

                                1. re: Midlife

                                  Midlife: "Have you ever injected Argon (or other inert gas) into the bottle before re-corking? Would that help or make the pressure thing worse?"

                                  I don't think it would either help or make things worse. I think it's the altitude-based atmospheric pressure change (rather than the localized bottle pressure) that's causing the issue.

                                2. re: Eiron

                                  Looking forward to hearing the results of your research. Should also mention here that we have opened certain wines that have been left out with the cork reinserted as you describe that have actually improved by the next day, and on one or two occasions, the third day. This of course is not expected and usually only done with wines that are too tannic, tight, or otherwise not pleasant at first.

                                  Midlife, below, makes some good points. I've used argon as well a a vacuum pump in the past with minimal and short-lived (@ 3 days or so) success. I've since found that using glass flasks with the ceramic tops and rubber washers and wire clasp locks work really well. I have an assortment (one looks like a little gallon jug) of sizes 200-250 ml and some @ 400 ml. If I'm not going to finish a bottle I just decide if I'm going to have one glass or two, then use a funnel to fill one of the "flasks" all the way to the top (no air remaining), seal it up and put it in the fridge.

                                  PS How was the '06 Cab Franc?

                                  1. re: PolarBear

                                    PolarBear: "I've since found that using glass flasks with the ceramic tops and rubber washers and wire clasp locks work really well. ... then use a funnel to fill one of the "flasks" all the way to the top (no air remaining), seal it up ..."

                                    Hmmm... I don't think I'm that motivated for my daily glass... if I were going to seriously consider doing this, I'd probably just let the wine de-gas for a couple of hours instead. Which, after all of this discussion, I just might start doing.

                                    The reason I haven't been allowing it to de-gas is because I know it's going to be at least three or four days before the bottle's finished. I figger it stays closer to "just opened" if I do as quick an open/pour/reseal as possible.

                                    The '06 Ironstone is very nice. Much more to my taste than the locally produced (Trail Ridge) Cabernet Franc I've had previously.

                                  2. re: Eiron

                                    Eiron: Despite (short periods of) time at high altitude, I'm no expert at gases in solution in wine. But I have bottled and stored a lot, and even transported some to your area.

                                    If sound wine was degassed properly before bottling and the ullage allowed to equalize to ambient--for your altitude--before laying down, I think your wine should not have been spritzy or gas-sharp on your tongue. It's equalized at bottling (unless your fancy corker draws a vacuum) simply by letting it stand upright for a day or two to relieve the overpressure caused by ramming in the cork.

                                    If you took a bottle so normalized at sea level and quickly transported it to Loveland *laying down*--inverted in the case would generally be the way it would be done--then theoretically the ullage would be overpressurized and you could get some ambient local AIR put back in solution. Maybe that's what's happening.

                                    Where and how do you buy your wine? If you buy at a grocery store or by the case, chances are that the upright and room-temp storage/display has been long enough to both equalize the pressure and allow a little extra off-gassing.

                                    You're the guy with boots on the ground (and wine on the floor), but here's my take. You're only taking out a glass, and then you're partially recorking. In recorking that way, you're overpressurizing the ullage just like I do when I bottle, BUT you're also restoppering with a cork that has been compressed for months/years, and hasn't a chance of forming as tight a seal. If you lay it down right away after restoppering, the course of least resistance for the internal overpressure is past the used cork--and onto your floor.

                                    Try an experiment. Buy two bottles of a Sangio you know to be spritzy/bitey. Stand one up in your basement for 2 days and lay the other down as usual. Open them both and taste. Is there a difference? If so, there's probably gas coming out of the horizontal bottle. If, after a good breath of air or decanting they are the same, they've been normalized. THEN, take one and give it your normal 1/3 recork/lay-down (in a pan) and stand the other one up in your cellar. The cork won't dry out. Taste again after a day.

                                    Here's another test: Save one of your wife's clear glass empties, into which you decant your 3/4-full bottle. Insert a Vac-u-Vin or similar vacuum stopper and give it 3-4 good pumps in bright light. Do you see bubbles coming out of solution? This would immediately end the overpressure possibility. If the verticality routine isn't enough, you may have to pull a small vacuum this way to degas.

                                    When I file my wines in my library, I always bottle two cases of each, one with the bottles completely sparged with argon, the other with just ambient air displaced by the wine. It's been too few years to claim to know anything yet, but I have my theories.

                                    If you're getting into knifemaking, you may have a MIG/TIG welder that uses argon. eBay will get you a low-pressure regulator, and then you can pretty much save that 3/4 bottle for weeks if not months. I'm just saying...

                                    1. re: kaleokahu

                                      Jeez kal, I was just gonna do an easy test! I usually reserve this kinda testing for my motor oil experiments! :-D

                                      I guess I can't wrap my head around how a vintner might pre-depressurize his bottles for a particular market area. From a manufacturing standpoint, it seems like a money loser.

                                      I buy my wines at any of several local alcohol stores. They're almost always standing up on the shelves, & I rarely buy more than 5 or 6 bottles at a time. I do lay them on their sides as soon as I get them home, but I don't need to keep them laying down after opening.

                                      As many bottlers now use plastic corks, I'm always replacing those with cork corks when I reseal. I always pick one that fits very snugly. (Oh, & I never buy wine with screw caps, due to the metal debris they leave on the threads. But maybe that belongs in your "wine tonight" thread?)

                                      I've got this "Sonoma Reserve" wine vacuum thingy:
                                      http://www.amazon.com/Vacuum-Sealer-B...
                                      What appears to happen with this is the de-gassing of the liquid fills the vacuumed space, resulting in.... leaks. :-(

                                      I don't plan on having a welding setup around the house for at least a few years. I'll be shaping the tangs with the original blade's stock & starting without metal bolsters, then sending it out for heat treat. (For those reading this & wondering, I usually hang out on the Cookware forum & post about knives & All-Clad & sometimes other hardware.)

                                      (Man, am I getting out in the weeds on this OP topic or what??)

                                      OK, so as long as I'm way out here, I've been thinking that "ka" might be a more logical abbreviation than "kal"? Or maybe "kale" or "kaleo"? I know next to nothing about the Hawaiin language, & I only started using "kal" 'cuz I'm from California....

                                      1. re: Eiron

                                        Eiron: You can call me anything you like. Kaleo is ka-leo, or "the voice". Kaleo is good.

                                        I misled if I left you with the impression that makers bottle for different market areas; they just bottle at the altitude where the wine is. Big bottling lines usually do pull a vacuum when the cork goes in, but that just obviates the need to stand the bottles up for a few days to equalize. But they had better degas well before bottling--it's usually done at the first racking, and sometimes again after malolactic fermentation is complete.

                                        I'm back to thinking you're getting leakers because YOU'RE overpressurizing the headspace when you recork. Try getting some trial stoppers (the short corks with a T-top on them, maybe 25 cents each at your local homebrew store) and just stand up your 3/4 full bottles. If you're buying supermarket bottles, the interior gas pressure should be the same as ambient.

                                        You didn't directly answer my question about the vacuum thingy: If you've tried it in an upright clear bottle, are you pulling bubbles out of solution? If so, I suggest you "vacuum" your 3/4 bottle, leaving it stand upright until the next morning, then restopper with a trial cork and see what happens.

                                        Voiding with argon really is a good preservative, but the tiny little bottles of it and nitrogen sold for that purpose are ridiculously expensive. I think the last 90cf bottle I filled was $40. That's why I asked if you've got a welder setup.

                                        1. re: kaleokahu

                                          kaleo, I've never tried moving the wine to a clear bottle. That'll have to wait until our next party, as I won't have another empty clear bottle until then.

                                          1. re: Eiron

                                            Eiron: Here's another keeping tip: The bottles with the integral cam-type gasketed caps (e.g., Grolsch beer, certain ciders and mineral waters) are good, dependable non-leakers. If your wines have residual gas in solution, decanting them into such a bottle at room temperature can release a lot. Also, they're usually rated for several atmospheres of pressure, unlike still wine bottles. Also available at homebrew stores.

                                3. re: Eiron

                                  >>> “The cork gives a perky "pop!" of escaped gas that I didn't get the previous night.”

                                  >>> “The wine will have a "bite" or "tanginess" in the glass that concentrates around the 10-15 minute mark. It's almost an effervescence...”

                                  Doesn’t sound like an altitude issue, but instead flawed wine, IMO.

                                  The “pop” describes what might be the gas from a small amount of incomplete fermentation. Or, that the wine was injected with CO2 to boost inferior fruit, as some Central Valley/Lodi/Sierra wines (Ironstone) are. The "bite" sounds like VA, and could be CO2 as well.

                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                    maria lorraine, it's enitrely possible that my palate is unrefined enough to not detect flawed and/or inferior components. When it comes to comestibles, I'm definitely less of a connoisseur & more of a common sewer....

                              2. re: Midlife

                                I did say the flavor of reds diminishes significantly enough after 2-3 days for me not to cook with it. And I still say it. ;)

                                1. re: invinotheresverde

                                  I can't disagrtee withat at all. I find, however, that individual palate sensitivities vary widely. I talk to people all the time who don't detect these changes or, at least, don't find enough of a change to make even red wine unpalatable that quickly.

                                  In your professional opinion, though, at what point would the wine be unhealthy to consume?

                                  1. re: Midlife

                                    I have homemade red wine vinegar that's been around for a couple years and doesn't make me sick.

                        3. IMHO, the lack of variety you cite for the 187ml bottles' availability is MORE than offset by the incredible deterioration in quality that the wine will have after being open such long periods of time.
                          why ruin perfectly good food by adding really deteriorated wine?
                          imho, even using plain water is better than using very old, horrible, oxidized, wine.

                          i'd go with the small bottles.

                          1. yummfood,
                            where are you located?
                            possibly someone on the board can help you find the small bottles:
                            a far superior approach.