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Port wine can last for several decades or even centuries if stored properly in a cool, dark place, away from light and temperature fluctuations (after all, there are barrels of the stuff that have been sitting for centuries in the Port Houses of Porto). However, once opened, it should be consumed within a few months to a year, as the wine will begin to deteriorate and lose its quality over time.
How Long Does Port Last After Opening?
A bottle of port wine, when stored properly, can last for several weeks to a month after opening. This is because port wine has a higher alcohol content which helps preserve the wine and slow down the oxidation process. However, the exact length of time a bottle of port wine will remain drinkable will depend on several factors.
First, the type of port wine will play a role in how long it will last after opening. For example, vintage port has a shorter shelf life compared to tawny or ruby port. Vintage port should be consumed within a few days of opening, while tawny or ruby port can last for several weeks to a month. So yes, that means those bottles you’ve left open in the cupboard for a few years are probably no good.
Second, the storage conditions will also affect the shelf life of port wine after opening. We toured a small, independent (and family-owned) Quinta (farm) where they product port and that was the first time I had ever heard of the concept of storing port in the fridge. Apparently, this keeps it fresher for longer (once opened) and it warms to room temperature once you’ve served it anyway.
Finally, it’s also important to note that opened port wine will begin to deteriorate and lose its quality over time, even if stored properly. The wine will become more oxidised, and the flavours and aromas will become less intense. This is why it’s recommended to consume opened port wine within a few weeks to a month to ensure that you are enjoying it at its best. After all, you don’t want that special bottle to go down the drain because you didn’t drink it quickly enough.
How Long Does Port Last Unopened?
Ever seen those dusty bottles of port hidden away in a cellar somewhere on TV? That’s the first hint that some port can last for a long time unopened.
The type of port wine plays a very important role in its shelf life, with vintage port having a shorter shelf life compared to tawny or ruby port. It’s important to note that unopened port wine will continue to age and develop over time, but if stored properly, it can last for several decades or more. So many factors determine whether or not a bottle will age well, but Port houses know when they’ve had an amazing harvest year and as a result, bottles made with these grapes would age nicely. This does mean you can’t just buy any old bottle from the supermarket and expect it to improve over decades.
How Long Can Port Wine Sit in a Decanter?
By now perhaps the answer is obvious. If unopened bottles can last for decades, and opened bottles can last for weeks it stands to reason that port sitting in a decanter can only last a matter of hours. That’s plenty of time to enjoy it with company.
For vintage port, decanting time should be kept to a minimum, as it is a delicate wine that is best consumed soon after opening. For tawny or ruby port, decanting for a few hours can help to bring out the wine’s flavors and aromas.
In general, it’s recommended to decant port wine just before serving, and to not leave it in the decanter for longer than 8 to 10 hours. If you are unsure of how long to decant your port wine, it’s best to consult a wine expert or consult the wine producer’s recommendations (or simply just drink it).
How to Tell if Port Has Gone Bad
There are several signs that can indicate that port wine has gone bad:
- Appearance: Port wine that has gone bad may have a cloudy or hazy appearance, or may have formed sediment or crystals.
- Smell: Port wine that has gone bad may have an off or musty odor, or may smell of vinegar or acetone.
- Taste: Port wine that has gone bad may taste flat, sour, or rancid. The wine may also have a bitter or metallic taste.
- Color: Port wine that has gone bad may have a dull or faded color, or may have a brown or yellow tint.
If you suspect that a bottle of port wine has gone bad, it’s best to discard it. Consuming wine that has gone bad can result in illness and is not recommended.