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I’ve had a sealed bottle of wine in my fridge for six months. Is it dead?

The question

I've had a sealed bottle of wine in my fridge for six months. Is it dead?

The answer

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I certainly hope it's not as alive and moving as the Greek yogurt I once forgot in my refrigerator for about the same period. Your wine should be fine. But if it's sealed with a cork versus a screw cap, consider downing it soon, and be slow and delicate when you pull the cork.

A cold fridge environment slows down chemical reactions. That means your wine has essentially been embalmed and protected from otherwise premature spoilage. Some wine keeners believe that a prolonged chill sends the wine into a "dumb" phase in which flavours become irrevocably muted. I disagree and know of no scientific evidence to support the claim.

Your primary concern should be with the cork. The main fridge compartment – versus the humidified vegetable crispers – is very dry. After a couple of months, corks will become desiccated, shrinking to the extent that they lose their seal. Oxygen, wine's No. 1 enemy, gradually bruises the fruit the way it does an apple's flesh after the peel's been removed. But six months is still pretty safe in terms of wine endurance.

Then again, unless you're in a hurry to pull that cork, I'd recommend rescuing the bottle and storing it on its side in a warmer, more humid space (such as a basement) for a few weeks to let the cork plump up again. This will ensure the cork doesn't turn to shreds when you attempt to yank it out. If you're dealing with a sparkling wine, don't delay; six months is too long in the fridge. Twisting open a bone-dry, lodged-in Champagne cork can be as tough as extracting a sincere apology from Donald Trump after he makes an insensitive remark.

The Flavour Principle by Lucy Waverman and Beppi Crosariol (HarperCollins) won top prize for best general English cookbook at the 2014 Taste Canada Food Writing Awards.

E-mail your wine and spirits questions to Beppi Crosariol. Look for answers to select questions to appear in the Wine & Spirits newsletter and on The Globe and Mail website.

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About the Author
Life columnist

Beppi Crosariol writes about wine and spirits in the Globe Life and Style sections.He has been The Globe's wine and spirits columnist for more than 10 years. In the late 1990s, he also wrote a food trends column called The Biting Edge.Beppi used to cover business law for ROB and previously edited the paper's weekly technology section. More

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