What should I do with wine that's been open for a month?

Ask Dr Vinny

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?

—Melissa, Ga.

Dear Melissa,

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!

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny

More In Dr. Vinny

Why are grapes harvested in bins instead of in a big truck bed?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why large plastic bins are ubiquitous in wine …

Dec 5, 2022

What is “reverse osmosis” in relation to wine? How and why is it used?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the science (and the motivation) behind the …

Nov 28, 2022

I need advice on Thanksgiving wines. Which wines pair best with turkey and sides?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers advice on selecting wines for the Thanksgiving …

Nov 21, 2022

What is a “second wine”?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the "second wine" concept and what it means in …

Nov 14, 2022

Is it bad if an old bottle of wine has sediment in it?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains that sediment happens—and how to deal with it.

Nov 7, 2022

Is it OK to change my mind about a wine after I've approved a sommelier to serve it?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains that there's a reason that sommeliers show …

Oct 31, 2022