Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
I received some open bottles of red wine. They've been in my refrigerator for over a month, but I don’t want to throw them out. Can I use the wine in roasts or stews, or is it too old? Can I combine all the wines and make vinegar?
Dealing with open bottles of wine is an occupational hazard among wine writers, retailers and restaurateurs! Once a bottle of wine is open, the oxidation process begins. As it oxidizes, fruit flavors will take on notes of bruised apples and nuts. The wine doesn’t spoil in the way that food can, but it will become less enjoyable to drink. This will happen quicker with older, more delicate wines than with younger, more robust bottles. While it varies on the wine (and the person drinking the wine) after a week or so in the refrigerator, I imagine most of the wine’s best qualities have faded. (The next time you’re met with an open bottle of wine, check out our video on how to save it for later!)
There are plenty of fun ways to use “leftover wine” (let me pause a moment for everyone who wants to make their “What’s leftover wine?” jokes), including marinades, glazes, sangria, mulled wine or even saving it as ice cubes for later. But most of these take advantage of wine’s fresh fruit flavors soon after it’s open, and I suspect the bottles in your fridge are past this point. I’d be lying if I said I’ve never found a bottle that old in my fridge and grabbed it to use a splash to deglaze a pan, but I don’t make a practice of it.
Your best bet is to make vinegar, which by its nature involves exposing the wine to air and it becoming oxidized. And yes, you can combine all the wines together!