I bought some cooking wine last week and made a delicious meal with it. I only used half a bottle, so the other half is still in my pantry.

I know that regular wine goes bad after about a day where as regular alcohol (rum, scotch, etc) doesn't really go bad at all.

I looked on the bottle to see if it says "keep refrigerated", "expires after opening", etc... and there's nothing of the sort.

Will that wine go bad, and if so, how fast?

Thanks in advance!

  • 8
    There are some who will say that cooking wine is bad right off the shelf; I think the question really is, will it go sour?
    – Aaronut
    Jan 27, 2011 at 20:33
  • Yeah, it was my first kick at the cooking-with-wine cat. My family absolutely loved the result, so I'm gunna do it more often. Maybe next time I can cook with something that will be ok for me to polish off the leftovers :) Jan 27, 2011 at 21:11
  • 4
    By the way, a well-corked and refrigerated bottle of regular wine will definitely keep for longer than a day. I believe reds typically keep longer than whites; I've had wine in my fridge for a week or so and still enjoyed it. (You do need to let it warm up a bit, of course.)
    – Erik P.
    Jan 27, 2011 at 21:44
  • 1
    @Aaronut beat me to the punch... I was going to say "it can't go bad when it already is bad" :) Jan 28, 2011 at 4:17
  • Bought a nice Merlot today. Gonna try it with my chicken tomorrow night. :) Jan 29, 2011 at 21:25

6 Answers 6


Generally... not as quickly. The salt content of the wine is much higher than drinking wine, which will preserve it longer. It will still "go bad" eventually. (Going bad is more a decrease in quality. It will still be edible, but unpleasant. It won't make you sick, except by the bad taste!)

See this from a Wikipedia Article: "Cooking wine typically available in North America is treated with salt as a preservative and food coloring."

So, it's safer than normal wine, but I'd try and use it soon. The sooner, the better.

  • 1
    Cooking wine is treated with salt to avoid liquor taxes. May 10, 2012 at 14:32
  • 2
    Doesn't mean the salt will not preserve it too. Dec 5, 2017 at 10:20

I've successfully frozen leftover wine and then later used it in stews. I've never tried it with "cooking wine" though, because, I prefer to only cook with wine that I'd actually drink.

  • +1 Freezing is a great idea, thanks! As a one-person household, this would be great for me. Seems obvious now, of course. I expect ice cubes should work especially well.
    – Erik P.
    Jan 27, 2011 at 21:42
  • 3
    +1 for "Don't buy 'Cooking Wine' brand wine." I always use Vermouth: it's good, it lasts for months, and it tastes far better than any "cooking wine". Jan 27, 2011 at 22:25

I would question the assertion that "normal" wine goes off after "about a day".

About the only thing that can go wrong with it is for it to oxidize, and let's face it, the amount of oxygen that's going to get through the small opening of the bottle neck, is pretty tiny.

Here's an idea: experiment. Get a mid-range, drinkable red wine. Pour yourself a small glass and drink it. Leave the bottle open at room temperature. The next day, pour yourself another small glass from the same bottle and taste it. I promise it won't make you ill. Is it as good as the first day? Revolting?

From experience, I believe you'll find the wine still enjoyable after a week -- even if it's not in the peak condition it was in when you opened it. It will last even better if you cork it.

(For white wine, of course, you'd keep it in the fridge, because you want it cold when you drink it. You could keep red in the fridge, but then you'd want to bring it back to room temperature for drinking)

Perhaps you're thinking that your palate isn't sophisticated enough to notice the spoiling. I say, if you can't sense it, you shouldn't worry about it. (I also say, if you can sense it, and it's not a super high-end wine, you're being too fussy :) )

For cooking, chefs tend to recommend that you shouldn't cook with a wine you wouldn't drink. I go along with that, although there may be economic reasons, depending on how much wine costs where you live.

  • Thanks for that slim. With regards to price, I'm in Canada. An entry level bottle of wine is about $12 - and the stuff that "we" take to dinner parties is about $25. Whereby a 1/2 bottle of cooking wine is about $8. We're not rich, so we steer clear of anything with a price tag > $40. Jan 28, 2011 at 17:36

Cooking wines have extra preservatives added so they will stay good for longer, though you should probably put it into the refrigerator.

Related / duplicate question: How long can I store cooking wine?


I know it's not what you asked, but another way to get around this problem is to cook with drinking wine, and then drink the leftover with the meal. Since some of the wine is already in the meal it will go together perfectly.


Wine's "badness" is somewhat subjective. I once bought a cheap bottle of wine at Trader Joe's and was surprised to find that it tasted sour when I opened it. I didn't drink it, but rather than wasting it, I cooked with it since it was somewhere between wine and vinegar and adding acidity is a very common way to improve a dish.

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