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Dear Dr. Vinny,
Somebody was telling people at a party that she and her husband keep very expensive wines in their refrigerator, like Château Margaux and the like. The bottles were opened decades ago. This woman and her husband store the bottles in their fridge and drink a glass now and then. I didn’t know what to say. Once the bottle is opened, don’t the great wines oxidize and deteriorate like any other?
—E.M., San Francisco
In a word? Yeah. I realize everyone’s tolerance varies, and keeping the wine in the fridge will slow down the deterioration process. But after a few days or a few weeks, I’d be surprised if a wine—even a great one—tasted like anything more than generic cold wine, or worse.
I had a similar situation happen to me once. I brought a bottle of rosé over to an elderly neighbor’s house. We shared a glass, and she put the rest in the refrigerator. Months later I was at her house and she offered me a glass of ... yep, the same bottle. I took one to be polite, and honestly, it wasn’t awful—just cold and vaguely alcoholic. For her it was perfectly fine. Nothing wrong with that.
I think that for most people—and most wines—once a bottle is open it will start to oxidize and fade in a day or two. For those who can nurse a bottle longer than that and still enjoy it? Good for them, in a way. But then again, maybe they aren’t really getting all the nuances when the bottle is at its peak.
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