How Long Can Cooking Wine Sit Out? [Red & White]

As you explore recipes, you will find many that call for wine or cooking wine for depth of flavor. If you don’t often use cooking wine in a recipe, then you probably have some left-over that you need to know how to store. Cooking wine contains salt and other preservatives making it much more stable and less tasty than regular wine.

You can leave cooking wine sitting out on the counter or in the cupboard like you would soy sauce or Worcestershire, although the flavor will be better if you refrigerate it. An opened bottle of cooking wine will be good up to a year after opening if you store it in the refrigerator.

You can even freeze portions of cooking wine for up to 2 years for use in sauces or soups, although the flavor will degrade over time. An unopened bottle of cooking wine can be good for 3-5 years when stored in a cool dark place. 

Continue reading for specifics about storing and using cooking wine, types of cooking wine, and some insight into the debate between cooking wine versus regular wine in your recipes.

Storing Cooking Wine

Because cooking wine has salt and other preservatives, you can keep it at room temperature for prolonged periods. You can leave an opened bottle of cooking wine on the counter or in your spice cabinet for 3-4 months. If it is an ingredient you use frequently, you can keep it with your soy sauce and Worcestershire rather than taking up space in the fridge.

However, to maintain the best taste, you should store the bottle in the refrigerator. An opened bottle of cooking wine will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 year, possibly longer. You can try tasting just a bit to see if the flavor is still good before using it in your recipes.

Remember that it should have a salty taste, but it shouldn’t be vinegary or have a foul smell. Also, if the wine is cloudy or has visible impurities, you should discard it. 

If you rarely use cooking wine but don’t want to waste it, you can freeze the leftover amounts. Because it has a high alcohol content, it will not freeze solid like water, but more like a cooking wine slushy. A good way to store it is one cup at a time in a zip-top freezer bag or a small canning jar.

The smaller portions will allow you to use only the amount you need for each recipe rather than having to deal with the whole bottle at one time. You can freeze each packet for up to 2 years, although the wine may lose some of its flavor near the end of that time. 

The Difference Between Regular & Cooking Wine

The significant difference between regular wine and cooking wine is that cooking wine is not meant for drinking. It has an alcohol content of around 15-16% ABV. Cooking wine also has approximately 1.5% salt and had additional preservatives added for stability.

Some people choose to use cooking wine because they don’t drink wine and therefore use it rarely in cooking. Cooking wine has a much longer shelf life and comes in smaller bottles than table wine, reducing food waste and saving money. 

So, which is better? If you drink wine, you will probably find more satisfaction cooking with a wine you would like to drink. Drinking a glass of the same wine you cooked with will enhance your awareness of the flavors in the dish.

Those who regularly drink wine may find that the flavor of cooking wine is too salty. Furthermore, the availability of varieties of cooking wine is much more limited than the stock of table wines that are available.

There are several brands of cooking wines, and what you choose may be limited to what is available at your grocery store. Holland House is an American brand that has been in business since 1887. They have a solid reputation for flavor and quality.

Kedem Wines are part of the product line created by the Royal Wine Corporation which originated with the Herzog family in Czechoslovakia and was later incorporated in America in 1948. The wines they produce, both table wines and cooking wines are kosher as suitable for Passover and other holidays. These wines are also gluten-free and have no added sugar or artificial flavors.

White Cooking Wines

Holland House sells a Chablis cooking wine that has one teaspoon of salt per cup and 10% ABV. This white cooking wine does not require refrigeration and is good for about 16 months from the date of opening. You may be able to extend the life of the wine by storing it in the refrigerator after it is opened. 

Kedem white cooking wine has positive customer reviews for good flavor that remains after cooking. This brand of wine is certified kosher and gluten-free.  Customers comment that it does have a strong salty taste, so be aware that you should reduce salt in the dish in other areas.

This white cooking wine does not need refrigeration and will be good up to a year. Extend the life of the wine to 18 months to 2 years by refrigerating or freezing it when you are not using it. 

Red Cooking Wines

Holland House red cooking wine, like their white cooking wine, is good for 16 months without refrigeration. This variety also has one teaspoon of salt per cup and 10% ABV, so adjust the amount of salt in your recipe accordingly. 

Kedem red cooking wine boasts no artificial colors or flavors, gluten-free and kosher certified. It has added salt and preservatives, so it too can be stored outside of the refrigerator for 1 to 1 ½ years. However, if you use it rarely, you may find it has a better flavor when you refrigerate it.

Cooking Sherry

Holland House cooking sherry is a perfect addition to sweet desserts, adding a nuttyness and caramel flavor. It can also be added to gravies and other savory dishes. It does not require refrigeration and can be stored at room temperature for up to 16 months. You can extend the life of this cooking sherry by keeping it in the refrigerator or the freezer.

Marsala Cooking Wine

Kedem Cooking Marsala contains 17% ABV and 1 ½% salt solution. Marsala is a complement to savory chicken dishes or to dishes with mushrooms. It can also complement a dessert dish, like being added to a chocolate or strawberry cake batter.  Marsala cooking wine has a higher ABV and has salt added, so it will be good out of the refrigerator for a long time, at least a year and a half. 

However, if you are considering cooking with Marsala, you might skip the “cooking wine” and go straight to the regular marsala wine, especially if you are planning to use it in a dessert. That way you have no salt and better flavor overall. Marsala is a fortified wine, meaning that it has a higher than average ABV. This means that it will keep longer than a regular red wine, up to 4-6 months after opening without refrigeration.

Alcohol Content Of Cooking Wine In Recipes

One reason some people worry about using wine in recipes is that they don’t want the alcohol content. You may have heard that heating wine will cook off any alcohol leaving only the flavor behind, but this is not entirely true. According to the USDA, some alcohol remains after cooking, depending on how the food is cooked, how the heat is applied, and how long the cooking takes place.

Essentially, the amount of alcohol decreases by 10 percent with each 30 minutes of cooking. So after ½ an hour the alcohol will be boiled down to 35%, after 1 hour it will be 25% and after 2 hours it will be about 10%. 

Identifying Spoiled Cooking Wine

Cooking wine is the opposite of regular wine in that cooking wine gets worse over time instead of improving. Despite its additional amounts of preservatives, it will go bad eventually, losing the good flavors and becoming foul-smelling and tasting. 

You can also judge the appearance of the cooking wine. If you have a particularly old bottle of cooking wine that you have concerns about, look at the color of the wine. If it is off-color or has developed unusual texture or impurities, you should throw it out rather than risking it. 

Types Of Regular Wine To Cook With

There are 6 categories of wine suitable to cook with: dry reds and whites, sweet whites, nutty dry wines, nutty-sweet wines, port wines, and rice wines. 

Dry red cooking wines are good for beef stews, Bourguignonne sauce, and beurre rouge sauce. They also make good wine reduction sauces. Dry white wines are good in cream sauces, dishes with mussels and clams, and for deglazing pans.

Sweet white wines are good for fruit sauces and fruit tarts and in butter dishes like lobster and clam sauces.

Dry, nutty wines are an excellent addition to dishes with mushrooms, gravies, and chicken and pork meals. 

Sweet, nutty wines go better with dessert-type dishes that have nuts or caramel. They are also good in sauces that go on ice cream. 

Port wines are perfect for steak sauces and those that have blue cheese. They also add depth to sweet sauces with chocolate or berries.

Finally, rice wines are the right choice for Asian dishes, Asian barbecues and sauces, marinades, and glazes. Wines

Which Best Wine To Use?

Many people debate whether to use cooking wine at all. Some say that you should only use regular wine, preferably one you enjoy drinking, in your recipes. The additional salt that is in cooking wines can change the flavor of your recipes on its own.

You may need to cook with less salt if you are using a cooking wine. If you use regular wine instead of cooking wine, you have many more possibilities for adding flavor to your recipes. 

An unopened bottle of wine has a long shelf life but a shorter open life than cooking wine. 

White wine is good for drinking for about 3 days, while red wine is good to drink for 1-2 weeks after opening. You should always recork the wine and store it horizontally in the refrigerator for the best result. 

If you have older wine that has gone past the date that is good to drink, you can still use it for cooking. Consider separating older opened wine into 1 cup portion sizes and freezing it to use in your recipes. Remember that it won’t freeze completely due to the alcohol content. 

Concluding Thoughts

Because of the high levels of alcohol, salt, and preservatives in cooking wines, they are safe to store at room temperatures for long periods of time. Many are good for a year to a year and a half at room temperature. You can keep cooking wine right next to your soy sauce or Worchestershire sauce in your pantry.

If you use cooking wines rarely, you can store the leftovers in the refrigerator to extend the shelf life. Furthermore, you could freeze portion sizes of cooking wine in airtight containers or zip-top bags. These frozen packs will not be solid like ice due to the amount of alcohol in the wine, more like a slushy. However, it will keep in the freezer for 2 years or more.

Related Questions

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