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.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

Once opened, do white wines spoil at a different rate than red wines do, in general?

—Andy, Atlanta

Dear Andy,

By “spoil,” I’m guessing you mean “oxidize”—that is, as an open bottle interacts with the air, it will eventually fade, flatten out and begin to take on nutty, bruised-apple notes. The wine isn’t spoiled in exactly the same way food can become spoiled, but it can still be unpleasant to drink.

In my experience, older wines will fade more quickly than younger wines, and more delicate wines will show oxidized notes faster than more robust wines. I personally haven’t seen a difference just between red and white wines. I think it may depend on the individual wine drinker’s perceptiveness of these notes—I usually notice young wines starting to fade after a day or two, but some people I know can nurse an open bottle for a week. To get more mileage out of a bottle of wine, transfer the leftovers to a smaller container (so that less surface area is exposed to oxygen) and store it in a refrigerator.

—Dr. Vinny


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