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    How Long Does Wine Last? (Unopened, Opened And Why It Goes Bad)

    How Long Does Wine Last?

    If you're trying to understand how long your favourite wine lasts after opening we're here to help.

    It's clear that unopened wine has a longer expiry date than an opened bottle of wine but unopened wine can still go off and expire too.

    Over time, aromas, flavours and appearances of wine change and the majority of wines benefit from this ageing process but opened AND unopened wines can and do go bad.

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    If you're looking to store your wine collection long term then the ageing process can significantly benefit the taste of wine but it's critical that your wines are being stored either in a wine cabinet or wine cooler for best taste results. 

    In this post, we will tell you everything you need to know about ‘how long does wine last?’. We’ll also cover how long an opened or unopened wine bottle laststhree signs of your wine going off.

    Different Wine And How Long it Lasts

    How Long Does Wine Typically Last After Opening? 

    Generally an unopened bottle of wine can last between 1-5+ years without expiring and going bad whereas an opened bottle of wine will usually only last 2-5 days before going bad.

    How Long Does Wine Last Unopened?

    Unopened wine can out last most recommended drinking windows.

    You can add 1-2 years extra to the recommended drinking window for white wines, red wines 2-3 years and cooking wines 3-5 years.

    Fine wine can last decades (even centuries).

    Thankfully, unopened wine is good to drink long after its recommended expiry date just as long as the smell and taste don't cause any concern upon opening.

    Using a Wine Fridge to Store Wine

    If you're looking to invest in and age wine well it's important to understand if a wine has gone bad and the indicators you can use to tell if a wine is spoiled.

    Here's general guidelines on how long unopened wine bottles last past the expiry date:

     

    • Red wine lasts 2-3 years 
    • White wine lasts 1-2 years
    • Wine boxes lasts 1 year
    • Cooking wine lasts 3-5 years
    • Fine wine lasts 10-20+ years (if properly stored in a wine cellar)
    • Sparkling wine lasts 3 years 

     

    How To Store Unopened Wine Correctly (5 Tips)

    To maximise the life of unopened wine bottles, you should ensure the following 5 tips will help you:

     

    • Store wine bottles horizontally on their side (labels facing upwards)
    • Located in a dark place
    • No vibration (e.g stored next to a washing machine
    • Stored in a humidity controlled environment (no damp)

    How Long Does Opened / Uncorked Wine Last?

    Opened wine lasts significantly less time than unopened wine before going bad. 

    Generally an opened wine will still taste close to it's best within 2-5 days of opening depending on the type of wine and the conditions the opened wine bottle is stored in. 

    You can use the cork, or a vacuum wine stopper to keep the bottle closed as tightly as possible.

    Opening A Wine Bottle

    In terms of sparkling wines such as Champagne, the bottle should be immediately sealed as soon as the wine has been poured as the bubbles with vanish rapidly if the bottle is left uncovered. 

    Here's general guidelines on how long opened wine bottles will last:

     

    • Light white wine lasts 1-3 days
    • Wine boxes lasts 6-12 months
    • Cooking wine lasts 1-2 months
    • Sparkling wine only last 1-2 days 
    • Dessert wine is ok for 3-7 days 
    • Port will last around 1-3 weeks

    Heres a summary of all this information for you in a simple table showing you the expiry date recommendations for open and unopened wines by:

     

    Type Of Wine Unopened Expiry Opened Expiry
    Red Wine 2-3 Years 1-2 Weeks
    White Wine 1-2 Years 1-3 Days
    Wine Box 1 Year 6-12 Months
    Cooking Wine 3-5 Years 1-2 Months
    Fine Wine 10-20+ Years 3-5 Days
    Sparkling Wine 3 Years 1-2 Days
    Dessert Wine 3-6 Months 3-7 Days
    Port Wine 10+ Years 1-3 Weeks

     

    How To Store Opened Wine Correctly (6 Tips)

    Here are 6 tips to maximise the life of opened wine bottles, you should ensure the following conditions are ticked off:

     

    • Wine bottle stored upright to minimise exposure to oxygen
    • Store in a dark place
    • Stored in a humidity controlled environment (no damp)
    • Exposure to oxygen is the main cause of wine going bad, so it's important to minimize exposure to air once the wine bottle has been opened.

     

    Related: How Long Does Wine Last In The Fridge?

    Does Wine Go Bad?

    Gone Off Wine

    It's true that wine can go bad, but by design the ingredients like the types of grapes and process used to produce wine is designed to help it last. 

    Due to the low sugar levels in wine, bacteria struggles to grow as there is limited food (bacteria) to feed on. 

    In addition, the alcohol content of wine makes the environment for bacteria to grow even more adverse.

    Tannins in the wine also act as natural preservative which help the ageing process. 

    Despite all these factors that help wines to last a long time, ultimately, the majority of wines can still go bad, there are 2 key reasons why wine goes bad:

    1. Acetic Acid Bacteria

    The number 1 reason is when acetic acid bacteria starts to consume the alcohol content in the wine turning it into acetic acid and acetaldehyde.

    This results in the wine smelling much like vinegar (not so nice!).

    2. Oxidisation

    Second is another chemical reaction between the wine and oxygen, called oxidisation, causing the wine to taste like old fruit rather than a fresh, clean flavour which you expect after opening a new bottle.

    Keeping your wine at lower temperatures in a white wine fridge will protect it against these two chemical reactions.

    How To Tell If Your Wine Has Gone Off?

    There's four ways to tell if wine has gone bad, from the appearance, smell and the taste: 

    1. Wine Appearance

    If the wine has gone cloudy rather than clear then it's likely not a good idea to consume it.

    Along with this a change in the colour of the wine can happen, even in unopened bottles and this doesn't signify the wine has gone bad with certainty.

    Finally, if the wine is fizzy and it's not a sparkling wine then this is a tell tale sign the wine has gone bad.

    Ways to See If Wine Is Bad (Tasting & Smelling)

    2. Wine Smell

    If you can smell a chemical undertone in the wines flavour - it's likely past its best.

    This is an indication that the wine has undergone a second fermentation within the bottle and this changes the wines odour.

    3. Wine Taste

    Another sign that the wine has gone bad is that it tastes vinegary, sweet.

    If the taste of the wine is resembling a dessert wine or port, then it's likely no longer drinkable.

    4. Bubbles In The Wine

    If you can see small bubbles in a (non sparkling) wine this suggests that the wine has gone through a second fermentation which will have soured the taste of the wine making it undrinkable.

    Does Wine Expire?

    If we're talking about a fine wine then no, fine wine doesn't expire providing it's stored well and unopened. 

    In contrast the shelf life of a regular, inexpensive, every day wine is finite and they won't be suitable for long term ageing as their taste will diminish over time.

    The key is keeping your wines unopened and stored well - if any type of wine is opened then there's a time limit before they expire - the clock to enjoy their tastes to the fullest is ticking!

    Expiring Wine In Cellar

    Below you can discover more information about different varieties of wine and how long you have to drink them at their best once opened:

    How Long Does Red Wine Last Unopened?

    Unopened bottles of red wine last 2-3 years unopened. Due to red wines high tannin level this type of wine is well suited to age well.

    Store bottles in cool, dark places and eliminate exposure to sunlight (UV) to maximise shelf life.

    For the best drinking experience red wines should be served at 12˚C - 18˚C or 46°F - 53°F for the best tasting experience. Keep red wines chilled in a wine cabinet or fridge for best storage results.

    How Long Does White Wine Last Unopened?

    White wine last 1-2 years when bottles are stored unopened.

    Due to white wines lower levels of ageing characteristics when compared to red wine.

    Store bottles in cool, dark places and eliminate exposure to sunlight (UV) to maximise shelf life.

    Prior to drinking chill white wines in a wine fridge at 8˚C - 12˚C or 46°F - 53°F for the best tasting experience.

    Unopened Wines Expiry

    How Long Does Unopened Rose Last?

    When kept in unopened bottles, rose wine lasts for 2-3 years.

    Due to rose wines' slower ageing rates (which are more like those of white wines) as compared to red wines.

    To extend shelf life, store bottles in cool, dark locations away from sunshine (UV).

    Prior to drinking chill rose wines in a wine fridge at 6˚C - 10˚C or 42°F - 50°F for the best tasting experience. 

    How Long Does Port Last Unopened?

    Because port wine contains fortified alcohol and oxidises slower than many other wines, a properly sealed port bottle will keep its contents fresh for over 10 years or multiple decades.

    To extend the shelf life of port, store bottles in cool, dark locations away from sun light (UV).

    Prior to drinking chill rose wines in a wine fridge at 6˚C - 10˚C or 42°F - 50°F for the best tasting experience.

    How Long Does Dessert Wine Last Unopened?

    Dessert wines should be stored unopened at , and will last 3-6 months unopened. To extend the shelf life of dessert wine, store bottles in cool, dark locations away from sun light (UV).

    Prior to drinking chill desert wines in a wine fridge at 5˚C - 7˚C or 50°F - 55°F for the best tasting experience.

    How Long Does Sparkling Wine Last Unopened?

    Sparkling wines can be consumed within 2-3 years of their stated expiry date and have a comparable shelf life to red wines. 

    Sparkling wines of high quality such as Champagne and even prosecco, can be stored for 3-4 years (10+ years is also possible with fine quality bottles) without the quality being diminished. 

    Prior to drinking chill sparking wines in a wine fridge at 5˚C - 7˚C or 50°F - 55°F for the best tasting experience. 

    Sparkling Wine Shelf Life

    Related:

    Final Thoughts On How Long Wine Lasts

      Like any other food or beverage, wine has a shelf life and can expire but it can also last for a very long time if the storage conditions are optimal.

      You can still enjoy unopened wine around 1-5+ years after the expiration date depending on the type and storage conditions.

      While opened wine can be enjoyed around 1–5 days after it's been opened, depending on the type of wine.

      If you have any questions, leave them in the comments, or email us at info@expertwinestorage.co.uk

      You can browse more posts on Wine Storage here.

      Expert Wine Storage can help you find a luxury wine fridge to store your precious wine collection.

      philip thompson Author: Philip Thompson
      Philip is the General Manager at Expert Wine Storage, and is very knowledgable about all things relating to wine and wine storage, including wine fridges. He is regularly featured in media outlets sharing his knowledge on wine. Connect on Linkedin

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