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Port wine is a delicious way to end a special meal.

In this article, you’ll learn how long Port wine will keep after opening and how long it will keep unopened.

Quick Answer: Consume Vintage Port 2-3 days after opening. There is no consensus on exact times for Ruby and Tawny Port, but they will last a minimum of 4 weeks, with some wineries recommending as long as 4-6 months.

What is Port wine?

Before diving into the details on how long Port wine lasts, it is important to first understand what it is.

Port is a fortified wine from the Duoro in Portugal made from a blend of black grapes varieties.

Fortified wine is wine that has grape spirit added to it. The grape spirit or “aguardante” stops the fermentation of the wine and increases the alcohol levels.

Port wine being stored at Taylor’s.

How long Port wine lasts after opening

Port wine is higher in alcohol than regular wine with alcohol levels between 19-22% ABV.

Apart from Vintage Port, the higher alcohol levels mean that Port wine can last longer than regular wine after opening. This is especially true for Tawny Port.

Tawny Ports are aged in contact with oxygen making them more robust wines after opening than other types of Port.

Tawny and LBV Port wine

How long Vintage Port lasts after opening

Vintage Port is an age-worthy Port and wines that have been aged for long periods (decades) can be delicate and therefore need to be consumed quickly in order to enjoy them at their best.

Ideally, drink Vintage Port within 1-2 days after opening. That said, many producers recommend drinking Vintage Port within 2-3 days.

Keeping it in the fridge tightly sealed can increase the time to 5 days or more.

Vintage Port is an exceptional and usually expensive wine to buy, so it should not be thrown away lightly. Personally, I wouldn’t be pouring any down the sink, unless it was truly spoiled. Although, even then, I would probably use it to make an epic wine vinegar!

If you have a bottle that is opened for more than 3 days, it doesn’t mean you can’t drink it. Pour a glass, sniff it and give it a try. If it smells and tastes okay to you, I would go ahead and drink it – spoiled wine is not dangerous to consume.

It might not be at its most optimal, but it may still be drinkable.

2020 Vintage Port

How long Tawny & Ruby Port last after opening

The storage times for Ruby and Tawny Ports after opening vary from producer to producer.

Graham’s and Cockburn’s, for example, recommend 4-6 weeks for some Ruby Ports whereas Calém recommend 4-6 months.

Most producers recommend longer times for Tawny than Ruby Port and often longer again for Tawny Port with indication of age.

Again, the recommended times for Tawny Port vary:

  • Cockburn’s Fine Tawny – 4-6 weeks is recommended
  • Sandeman Fine Tawny – 8 weeks is recommended
  • Sandeman Tawny 20 Years Old – 2-3 months is recommended
  • Calém all Tawny Port – 4-6 months is recommended

So, as you can see from the examples above, the recommended times really do vary. You will also notice that Calém’s recommendations are much longer than the other examples.

Calém is an established major Port brand and I visited their winery when I was in Porto. I was impressed with the winery and their wines and feel confident that they know what they are talking about, and that their Port, at least, can be drunk in the recommended times.

It is possible that some brands wish to be more cautious and ensure any recommendations are for wine in perfect condition.

All this goes to show that Port doesn’t have an exact expiration date and you should use any recommendations from producers as a guideline, rather than an exact prescription in conjunction with your own judgement.

How long White and Rosé Port lasts after opening

Rosé Port wine

There is also significant differences in recommendations for how long White and Rosé Port can last after opening among producers.

Sandeman, for example, recommends 4 weeks for its Fine White Port and 8 weeks for its Reserve White.

Calém, once again, recommends longer times than other producers that I have researched. When I visited the Calém winery, the tour guide recommended that White and Rosé Ports will easily last 2 months if kept in the fridge. Their website recommends drinking White and Rosé within 2-4 months.

Should Port wine be refrigerated after opening?

White and Rosé Port wines should be refrigerated after opening. Replace the cork and put in the fridge immediately after use. As mentioned above, they will last at least 2 months if you do this.

Ruby and Tawny Ports do not need to be refrigerated; however, putting Port in the fridge slows down the oxidation process and ensures that the Port will last longer.

If you do refrigerate it, just allow it to warm to the correct temperature before drinking.

How to store Port wine after opening

Port wine with stopper corks

Apart from Vintage Port (which has a regular wine cork), Port wine is sold with stopper corks.

Stopper corks are reusable corks that allow the wine to be opened and closed easily.

The cork should be replaced properly immediately after use. Store the wine in a cool, dark place away from any vibrations, (e.g., don’t put it on top of the fridge).

How long Port wine lasts unopened

Vintage Port is designed to be age worthy. It can be aged for at least 30 years and often longer.

Vintage Single Quinta Port is also an age-worthy wine. It can be aged for at least 20 years.

Colheita Tawny Port, according to Calém, can age for as long as 100 years!

Apart from the Ports outlined above, Port wine is bottled ready to drink and does not benefit from further ageing.

So, don’t hold on to it thinking it will improve with age – it won’t. Go ahead and drink it.

How to tell if Port wine has gone bad

For details on how to tell when wine has gone bad, see the article below:

How to tell if wine has gone bad

Read with confidence: I am a certified wine expert (WSET L3).