Home Wines Wineries Tasting Notes Events Links Books Forums

General Discussion

    Subject:What is the shelf life of Port once opened?
    The easiest way to tell the shelf life of a Port is to take a look at the cork. A Port cork that resembles the shape of the letter T with a plastic top and a squatty cork bottom is meant for easy removal and re-corking.

    These T corks are used on the majority of Ports. Most Ports are aged in casks, for varying lengths of time, that allow that allow the wine to have contact with air (through porous wood).

    This oxidative method of aging means that these Ports are already exposed to air and therefore do not oxygenate like red wine and can stay open for 2-4 weeks without much loss of freshness.

    A Port with a driven cork, like wine bottles use, is meant for one time removal. Have you ever tried to put one back in and take it out again? Driven corks are used on ports that age in the bottle, like Vintage Ports and Traditional Late Bottled Vintage Ports. This is reductive aging with no real exposure to air. These bottle-aged Ports, like wines, deteriorate rapidly after opening.
    Posted on Feb 19, 2002
    By Roy Pereira
    Aged Tawnies
    These wines have spent all their life aging in wood and therefore have been subjected to a long and slow oxidizing process. They are therefore wines that keep in perfect condition for a long time after opening. For example, a 20 Year Old Tawny is something that even after being in an open bottle for a month retains much of its delicate bouquet.

    LBVs
    These are wines that normally have a lot of freshness and fruit on the aroma and palate and therefore do tend to deteriorate slightly after being opened. Nonetheless an LBV can remain perfectly drinkable a week or two after being opened.

    Vintage Ports
    Young Vintage Ports up to 10 years Old are better up to 2 to 3 days after being opened. I dont particularly recommend this type of Vintage being left opened much more than a week, as it will lose some of its freshness.

    Older Vintage Port 15 to 20 years and above should be drunk the same day it is opened to be able to fully appreciate its subtle aromas and flavors. After 3 of 4 days this type of wine may well deteriorate significantly.

    Generally Speaking
    All Ports that have a rich full ruby color as in the case of Vintages and LBVs develop well when in bottle, but Tawny Ports dont really benefit from much time in the bottle. But, on the other hand, Tawny Ports will remain very drinkable after being opened for much longer than LBV and Vintage.

    (Comments from Peter Symington)
    Posted on Feb 19, 2002
    By Roy Pereira