Log In / Join Now

Ask Dr. Vinny

Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...

Dear Dr. Vinny,

On a recent trip to Italy, I purchased a few bottles of red wine. Without the preservatives that are typically used in our U.S. wines, what is the expected shelf life of this Italian wine?

—Buddy G., Kennesaw, Ga.

Dear Buddy,

There are no preservatives added to U.S wines that aren’t also found in European wines. What’s different is the labeling laws: In the U.S., the label must say “contains sulfites” on the label, but that's not required if the exact same is sold in Italy.

Sulfites are a naturally occurring byproduct of fermentation (and found in many other consumables, from dried apricots to molasses). Many winemakers also add additional sulfites to help keep wines stable. Those sulfites are present in wines from all over the world. There’s no difference in how long a wine will age—it still depends on your personal wine preferences, what kind of aging potential the wine has, and what kind of cellaring set up you have at home.

—Dr. Vinny

Wine Basics

We break down the basics—how to taste, serve, store and more. Plus:
» Maps of major wine regions
» Grape variety characteristics

How-to Videos

Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more

Wine Spectator School: All courses are FREE for WineSpectator.com Members

Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.

Browse our course catalog
Check out the professional wine sales and service courses
Learn Wine Forum: Got questions? Get answers

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 340,000+ ratings.