Log In / Join Now

Ask Dr. Vinny

Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...

Dear Dr. Vinny,

A restaurant I went to sold me a bottle of wine. They actually uncorked and recorked it for my purchase. How long should the wine sit before being uncorked again? Thank you.

—D., Akron, Ohio

Dear D.,

For folks who are confused as to why a restaurant would open a bottle it sold for you to take away, it may be a way for it to get around a liquor license that only allows it to sell alcohol to be consumed on the premises. Even if the restaurant isn’t supposed to just sell wine at retail, Ohio law allows for patrons to take home whatever wine they haven’t finished in the restaurant. So by opening the bottle and then sealing it again, they’ve turned what might look like a retail sale into an approved “doggy bag” for you to transport home (in your trunk or glove box—no open containers accessible to drivers allowed). Ohio is one of several states that require leftover wines to be put into tamper-proof, transparent, one-time-use bags.

While I’m glad that these sorts of laws encourage folks to purchase wines by the bottle and consume them responsibly, it’s kind of a bummer for you, because you might not have wanted to drink the wine right away, and by opening the bottle—even if they promptly put the cork back in—they’re forcing your hand to drink it promptly.

Once a bottle is open, most wines will start to fade after no more than a day or two, though how much mileage you can get will depend on what kind of wine it is and who’s going to be enjoying it. Older wines will typically fade faster than young, robust bottlings, and your palate might be more or less sensitive to the nutty, bruised-apple notes that the exposure to oxygen will cause. Storing the open bottle in the refrigerator will buy you some time, as will transferring the leftovers to a smaller container (minimizing its exposure to air) if you can’t finish it in one sitting.

—Dr. Vinny

Wine Basics

We break down the basics—how to taste, serve, store and more. Plus:
» Maps of major wine regions
» Grape variety characteristics

How-to Videos

Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more

Wine Spectator School: All courses are FREE for WineSpectator.com Members

Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.

Browse our course catalog
Check out the professional wine sales and service courses
Learn Wine Forum: Got questions? Get answers

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 340,000+ ratings.