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How Long Can I Keep Opened Port?

February 5, 2013
Question by: Máirin, Ireland


I see conflicting opinions on many websites on how long various styles of Ports can be kept after opening.  Grateful if you would clarify how long should Ruby, Tawny, Aged Tawny, LBV and Vintage Ports be kept after opening the bottle until they become 'too old' to enjoy!  Many thanks for your answer.


Hi Máirin, The easiest way to remember is this:  look at the cork.  If it was a driven cork that had to be removed with a corkscrew, then the Port is best enjoyed within a day or two of opening.  If the cork was a "T-stopper" removed by hand, then the Port can be kept up to a few weeks.  In either case, if you wish to save the remainder, re-seal the bottle with the cork or a vacuum-type stopper and store the bottle in a cool dark place - a fridge or a cellar.  Note that when serving Port again, if the wine has been in the refrigerator, take it out a little ahead of time so the temperature can come back to mid-teens Celcius (your fridge is probably around 5ºC).

Essentially, if the bottle was sealed with a driven cork, that means the wine had relatively little exposure to oxygen before bottling, so opening the bottle and exposing the wine to air will begin to change the character of the wine - in a good way, at first, hence the desire to decant Vintage Ports - but after a day or two or three of exposure to air, the effect is less felicitous.

Wines bottled with a T stopper however, are styles which have aged more years in cask and therefore have had more exposure to air before bottling.  They will not have as dramatic a reaction to being exposed to air again after opening as a Vintage Port, and therefore can be kept a bit longer after opening.

We once put this question to Dominic Symington, who said he is always puzzled by this desire to keep an open bottle so long.  "Port is so lovely, why not enjoy it at its peak?  If you think you won't finish the bottle at one sitting, then you just need to invite more friends around to share!"

For more about the different styles of Port, how they are made and how to serve them, take a look at our Guide to Port Styles.

Impresso em

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