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Fortified Wines: How Long to Safely Store?

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    Fortified Wines: How Long to Safely Store?

    I'm embarrassed to say I have bottles of fortified wines that I use primarily for cooking--sherry, marsala, madiera, inexpensive ports, brandy etc.--some of which have been there for a year or more. There's some cheap port and brandy left over from making last Christmas's batch of mulled wine, for example. I'm wondering if I should dump them all. The sake gets used often, so it alone is what I would call "pretty new".

    Is it safe to taste test them before using? Are any dangerous to drink from a food safety standpoint?

    Any advice is appreciated.


    It is perfectly safe to taste them, nothing is going to grow in a fortified wine. The issue with older wines, especially if they have been opened, is oxidation (there is good oxidation, sherry is an example but can get bad oxidation after opening, and bad oxidation - wine tastes awful). Taste the wine, if it tastes bad, throw it out otherwise use it.

    Distilled spirits such as brandy are generally good indefinitely - even if opened.


    • Steve R.
      Steve R. commented
      Editing a comment
      ssandy_561, MD 20/20 should be discarded as soon as you get it home.

    • rickgregory
      rickgregory commented
      Editing a comment
      This is correct. If you don't use the wines often, keep them in the fridge, too. Brandy etc will be fine. Madiera is preoxidized - it can't really oxidize more. I'd toss the port and other cheap stuff though. Just start over.

      Aside from refrigerating them, if you are down to about 1/2 of a bottle, decant the full bottle into a 375ml (half) bottle. Less air, less oxidation.
      Last edited by rickgregory; November 29, 2020, 01:35 PM.

    • rickgregory
      rickgregory commented
      Editing a comment
      PS: this will sound weird but you can freeze wine too. I'd not do it for anything I wanted to drink, but you can do it for cooking wine. But my overall rec would be to narrow down what you use to cook with - the subtleties don't matter, so.... 🤷🏼‍♂️

      PPS: DO leave headroom if yo undo this. Wine is mostly water and will expand as it freezes. No headroom = shattered bottle.
      Last edited by rickgregory; November 29, 2020, 02:10 PM.

    Never had that problem with my Thunderbird.

    Yeah, what they said. If need be, reduce it again with aromatics, herbs and home made beef stock and keep a “Mother.”

    I have a “Mother” lard that I use as well as some sort of “Pork Jus” thing.


      I used a vacuum sealer and store my vermouths in the fridge. I also buy small bottles.


        I once forgots I had a bottle of roses lime juice in the back of the closet for years. Found it and you could have made a horror movie from what was growing in there.

        fzxdoc what the guys said above, taste it. I have similar bottles in our closet too, because it’s not like you use lots for any one dish, so they hang around a while. I always taste to make sure they are still good.


          What kind of sherry do you use?


          I keep port and sherry pretty indefinitely at room temp.


          • Bkhuna
            Bkhuna commented
            Editing a comment
            If you're buying sherry from Spain, it has an age statement on it. It will oxidize and get an off taste. You can't keep any type of wine indefinitely.

          • fzxdoc
            fzxdoc commented
            Editing a comment
            Oops, I do have a Spanish sherry in with the liqueurs. Never thought about it going bad. I'll check the date. Thanks, Bkhuna .



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