Every year globally, the production of wine delivers thirty-six billion bottles of wine, and this is good news for all the oenophiles (wine connoisseurs) out there! However, a common question is how long can this wine last before it becomes unfit for consumption?
The answer to the question of how long wine lasts depends on two conditions; the type of wine in question, and how you store it. Generally, an unopened bottle of wine has a much longer shelf-life than an opened one. Furthermore, the whole idea behind fermenting grapes when making wine is to increase its shelf-life.
When fermenting grapes, yeast breaks down sugar and turn it into alcohol. The lowered sugar content leaves little for bacteria to feed on, consequently slowing down the spoiling process. Secondly, the addition of alcohol into wine makes it difficult for bacteria to survive. This level of preservation is actually what allowed fine wines to be shipped around the world in the early days and remain delicious after being in transit for many months.
Although wine is made to last long, it will eventually go bad. Here is a breakdown of the shelf-lives of the most typical wines.
How Long Does Sparkling Wine Last?
Unopened, sparkling wine can last for 3 to 5 years after production. However, if it is a fine wine, it can remain safe to consume indefinitely, even for decades! To maximize its shelf-life, keep this wine away from direct sunlight, in a cool, dark area. To maintain its best quality, do not refrigerate it until 1-2 days before consumption.
Once opened, you can refrigerate sparkling wine for about 3-5 days, but be sure to re-cork it first! If you do not have a cork, cover the opening tightly with a plastic wrap. You can also freeze sparkling wine. It will maintain its best quality for up to 6 months when frozen but will still be safe to drink indefinitely beyond that time.
Not quite sure what the difference is between sparkling wine and champagne? No worries! We break it all down for you in this article.
How Long Does White Wine Last?
White wine can remain at its best quality 3 to 5 years from the production date. However, it will also remain safe to drink indefinitely after that, if well-stored. Fine white wine can maintain its high quality for decades. When refrigerated, light white wine remains safe to consume for between 5 to 7 days. You will, however, notice a change in taste after day one as the wine oxidizes.
The taste might continue changing as the days go by. Oxidization turns the wine’s general fruity character, making it a little less vibrant. This is the same for rosé wine. Full-bodied white wine will stay in the fridge for 3-5 days with its cork on and will oxidize more quickly.
You can also freeze leftover white wine to use later for cooking. In the freezer, it will maintain its quality for up to six months, but still, remain safe to consume indefinitely after that.
Interested in cooking wines? Learn about their make up and which ones to choose with this article!
How Long Does Red Wine Last?
Red wine is at its best condition for up to 5 years post-production, although it remains safe to drink forever after that, if well-stored. Fine red wines maintain their quality for up to decades.
Once opened, refrigerate your bottle of red wine to keep it fresh. Take it out of the fridge about an hour before consumption to bring it back to room temperature. In the refrigerator, the wine can last for up to 5 days when re-corked.
Full-bodied red wines like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah, maintain their flavors for much longer than lighter wines like Pinot Noir. You can freeze leftover red wine to use for cooking but make sure you freeze it in airtight containers. Properly stored red wine can stay frozen indefinitely.
You should note that some types of wines are meant to be consumed shortly after being bottled because, at that time, their aroma and flavor is at its peak. This preferable period here is within two years of purchase. These are the types that are not meant to get finer with age.
Fine wines tended to get mellower as time goes by (think rich red wines like Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon). Such wines tend to be very expensive, and those who purchase them have to provide the perfect storage conditions.
Check out our article on the Ultimate Guide for Best Red Wine Serving Temperatures before hosting your next social gathering.
How to Check if Your Wine is Still Good
There are two ways in which you can test your wine to tell if it’s still good to consume.
Pour your wine into a glass, let it sit for a moment and then sniff away.
- If it smells like vinegar or mold or has a nutty smell, you don’t want to drink that.
- An okay smell means you can go ahead and taste it. If the taste is off, get rid of it.
How to Extend the Shelf Life of Wine
Storing your wine in proper conditions will extend its shelf life if you do not want to consume it immediately. This is ideally in a wine cellar that is in a cold and dark place whose shelves are a bit angled, and with other wines as neighbors too! The cellar should also be able to maintain a temperature of 50-55°F.
Check out our guide on How to Store Wine After Opening, here.
If you cannot afford to do that, it is also perfectly fine to store it in a cool, dark place that is a bit humid. Do not store wine under a stove, above the fridge, or close to any appliance. Storing wine near appliances raises its temperatures.
Store your wine horizontally to keep the cork moist. This prevents air from entering the bottle and preserves the seal. A dry cork is also prone to crumbling upon opening, so if you have a corked wine, stored it on its side until it is time to open up. Once opened, you may refrigerate your wine to help it last longer.
To keep your wine fresh and delicious for long periods, all you have to do is store it unopened and at the right temperatures. Once opened, refrigerate it for the appropriate amount of time depending on the type, and you will enjoy your tipple when the time comes. Regardless of its age, fresh wine rolls off your tongue in a sultry dash of sweetness and cascades down your throat as no other drink can.
Thanks for reading with us today. With this guide, you’ll surely be able to get the most out of your favorite wines from now on!
Continue to enhance your inner wine-connoisseur and check out additional Wine on My Time articles like What Temperature Does Wine Freeze, Corks vs Screw Caps: What’s the Difference, or What is a Wine Cooler today!
Bottoms up, we’ll uncork ya later! 🍷
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