Known as the ultimate after-dinner dessert wine, port is no more just a drink for the elderly. So, it’s about time you learn a little more about this Portuguese fortified wine.
If you have ever added port to your dinner table, you may already know that a bottle of wine will stay open for most of the time. That’s because most people can’t finish a bottle of port in a single sitting.
Or, if you end up buying several bottles of port, there are sure to be some leftovers that you’ll have to stack up in your pantry.
So that brings us to our ultimate question: how long does port last? Or, how long can you keep your leftover port until it becomes unfit for consumption? To find out, please read on.
Before anything else, if you don’t already know, port is a type of fortified wine from Portugal. You can find authentic port wine from the Douro Valley in northern Portugal.
As far as taste is concerned, port is a sweet red wine. However, you can find other port varieties as well, including the semi-dry, dry, and white port.
How Long Does Port Last? Does Port Go Bad?
Did you know? Part of the popularity of port comes from the fact that it is one of the most durable types of wines out there. As you already know, once opened, all wine starts losing its quality over time until they start tasting like vinegar.
But when it comes to port wines (particularly young port), it usually has a longer shelf life. That is because the wine is less likely to oxidize. And when stored in the fridge, this oxidation process is further slowed down.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean port has an indefinite shelf life. Port wine does go bad. But when you store it correctly, it can last you for up to 3 months or slightly more.
However, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work when it comes to the shelf life or storage of port wine. That’s because there are different port varieties. Hence, their shelf life varies.
The different types of port include tawny, ruby, white, colheita, rose, and vintage. In general, all types of port wine have one thing in common that is fortification.
This simply means, during its fermentation process, brandy has been added. Hence, all port wines will last longer than any other table wines, thanks to the brandy content.
Generally, all unopened port wine should last for many years. They may even last for decades, as long as they are not opened and completely sealed in their original packaging.
You should store unopened port wine in a cool, dark place. Make sure to keep away from direct heat and ensure that the temperature is steady and stable. The ideal temperature to store your port wine is at 60°F.
When it comes to opened port wine, different port varieties have different shelf lives. Wood-aged ports like tawny, ruby, and white usually last longer even after they are opened.
Ruby port has a shelf life of up to 4-6 weeks. On the other hand, a tawny port can retain its quality for up to 3 months.
In contrast, vintage ports start losing their quality quickly once they come in contact with oxygen.
That’s because they have been aging, completely sealed in a bottle for the longest time. Hence, the general idea is, the older the port, the faster you should try and finish it.
How to Tell if Port is Bad?
After a certain period, all port wine starts losing its quality. Hence, they are most likely to go bad and show some signs of spoilage when it’s no longer safe for consumption.
You can use your sense of sight, smell, and taste to easily tell if port has gone bad. Here’s how:
Due to constant oxidation, port tends to lose its strength. This results in changes in color as well as flavor. You may notice your white port turning into a brownish color.
Red port may start appearing lighter in color, or sometimes even orange. Hence, if you notice the same, it is better to discard the entire port content immediately.
The next thing you can do is smell the port if you don’t notice any color changes. If your port gives off an odd aroma, it clearly means that it is not safe for consumption.
Finally, the last thing you can do is take a small taste test. Sometimes, port may become extremely oxidized, which may turn the wine into vinegar.
If it tastes anything like vinegar or gives an unusual taste, it is better off in the trash.
Port is one of the most versatile wines out there with a rich history. You can pair it with soft cheeses, desserts, or even use it in place of gin to make some delicious cocktails like a “portini.”
When it comes to its shelf life and storage, you can store all unopened port bottles at around 60°F, and it will last you for years to come!
Once opened, make sure to store your port bottles upright in the refrigerator at around the same temperature.
All opened port wine can last for up to three months except for vintage port. In the case of vintage wine, the older its age, the faster you should consume it.
For example, if your vintage port is about five years old, it can last up to five days. If it is about 10-15 years old, it should last for a maximum of three days.