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Dear Dr. Vinny,
Once I have opened a bottle of Zinfandel, do I have to refrigerate it, or can I leave it out—cork in, of course—at room temperature? Are there some wines that can be left at room temperature and some not? Is there a maximum number of days of wine can be left out or even refrigerated?
—Devonna B., East Bernstadt, Ky.
Oxidation—which begins as soon as the cork is pulled—is the enemy of wine. Refrigeration will slow oxidation, but it doesn't stop it altogether. In the rare instance that there is leftover wine at my house, I can drink an opened bottle for about three days before I start to notice it fading. My mother-in-law nurses hers for a week. Personal taste and frugality are big variables here. If you transfer the leftovers to a smaller bottle (where less surface area is exposed to oxygen), you might get some extra mileage out of it.
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