ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

I have been told there is a differential rate of oxidation depending on the Port type. For instance, a Tawny Port will last longer than—for instance—a Vintage Port, once the cork is popped. What is your opinion?

—Jan B., Freeport, Maine

Dear Jan,

You make a good point. Tawny Ports become tawny-colored from the oxidation they experience during their long maturation in porous wooden casks. So, since they’re already oxidized, you would think that after they’re opened, they would last longer than a Vintage Port, which was aged in barrel for only a fraction of the time. But I still think that many people would notice a difference in their Tawny Port after it was opened for a couple of weeks or longer—the flavors will start to flatten out, the alcohol will stick out a bit more, and it would come across as more disjointed overall. (To extend the life of an opened Port, you can store the leftover wine in the fridge in as small of a container as it will fit.)

—Dr. Vinny


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