Cooking wine keeps a lot longer than regular wine, but that's not necessarily a good thing. Salt is the magic ingredient responsible for cooking wine's longevity, so use a light hand when adding salt to a dish that also contains cooking wine. Tuck cooking wine in a dry pantry or the refrigerator and use it within a few months.
Cooking Wine Explained
Cooking wine is wine that's been processed with salt to preserve it. Although it's made with wine stock, it contains little alcohol and can be legally sold on grocery store shelves. It's generally found next to the vinegar in the condiment section.
Shelf Life Unopened
A bottle of unopened cooking wine will last one to two years, but check for a "best used by" date on the bottle. You can expect cooking wine to stay fresh if unopened for at least two or three months past the expiration date. Store unopened cooking wine in a cool, dry pantry for the longest shelf life.
Pop the Bottle
Even after it's opened, cooking wine lasts longer than regular wine simply because of the added salt. You can safely store it for six to eight weeks in the pantry or store it in the refrigerator for up to three months.
Read the Label
Many inexpensive drinking wines make excellent cooking wines, but they don't last as long because they don't contain salt. If you're cooking with a regular wine, cork it tightly, refrigerate it and use it within one to two weeks. These wines have a shorter shelf life, but they usually taste and perform better than cooking wines. Always taste or smell wine before you add it to a cooked dish. Discard it if it has off-flavors or off-colors. Wine may develop vinegar undertones in storage.
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