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How Long Does Wine Last Unopened? Resolved (2023 Updated)

Last Updated on September 14, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Wines get better over time, but it does not apply in all cases. Although it’s designed to last long, an unopened bottle of wine might deteriorate after many years.

But, really, how long does wine last unopened?

Keep reading to know how long unopened wine lasts based on its expiration date, storage, and type of wine.

How Long Does Unopened Wine Last? 

Wine Bottle and a Glass

When properly stored, unopened white and rose wines can last for about 1-2 years, red and sparkling wines by 2-3 years, while fine wines last up to decades.

Wine expiration may vary depending mainly on its type and how it is stored. But unopened bottles of wine last longer than opened ones. 

Factors To Consider

Type of Wine

Red Wine

Red wine can last for around 2-3 years when unopened and stored properly, but it can only last for 3-5 days if opened.

White Wine

Unopened white wines have a shorter life span of 1-2 years compared to red wine. These wines don’t age as long as red wines, which reduces the amount of tannin in white wine.

Rose Wine

Like white wine, rose wine has a recommended drinking window of around 1-2 years. These light-colored wines go bad faster than dark color wine variants. Check out our top rose wines for beginners here

Cooking Wine

Compared with regular wines, cooking wines contain higher amounts of alcohol and have salt and preservatives that increase their shelf life. You may also want to check out the top fruit wines here

Sparkling Wine

Sparkling wines, like other bubbly wines, have a similar life span of 2-3 years to red wines. Although it’s light-colored, the bubbles last longer than white wines.

Fortified Wine

A well-sealed and properly stored bottle of fortified wine can last up to two decades—special thanks to its unique fermentation and aging process that preserves it longer.

Dessert Wine

Dessert wines and other sweet wines made from the highest quality grapes with a longer aging process results in long shelf life that could last between 5-10 years. 

Storage

Proper storage can prolong the shelf life of wine.

You don’t need a wine cellar to do it; you just need to ensure it is away from heat and sunlight. Check out the best wine cooler brands here

Expiration Date

Bottle and a glass of wine

Every type of wine has a unique expiration. Always check your wine bottle for its ‘best by’ or ‘best before’ date to track its shelf life.

“A bottle of wine begs to be shared…”

– Clifton Fadiman, Author

For reference, you can check the wine shelf life chart below.

Can Unopened Wine Get Bad?

Yes, unopened wine can get bad, and there are two possible reasons why. First, the bottle of wine might be past due to its expiration dates, or second, it is not properly stored.

How To Tell If Unopened Wine Has Gone Bad 

pouring red wine on a glass

Appearance

An unopened wine that has gone bad might result in a change in appearance, such as:

  • color alteration,
  • cloudy apperance, and 
  • unnecessary bubbles.

Taste

If it doesn’t have any changes in appearance, unopened wine that has gone bad might have unusual changes in taste like sour, tart, sharp flavors, or horseradish-like taste.

Smell

A foul smell can indicate a wine that has gone bad. It usually results in a tangy, ‘acetic acid’ aroma and an unusual nutty scent due to oxidation.

Wine Shelf Life Chart 

Wine Type Unopened Opened
Red Wine 2-3years  3-5days
White Wine 1-2years  3-5days
Cooking Wine 3-5years  1-2months
Sparkling Wine 2-3years  1-3days
Fine Wine 10-20years Up to 1 month
Dessert Wine 5-10years 3-4weeks
Rose Wine 1-2years 3-5days

Tips & Tricks When Storing Wine

  • Store your wine in a dark place away from sunlight.
  • Keep it at an ideal temperature of around 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Store wine bottles vertically in an upright position to minimize exposure to oxygen.

FAQs

Can I drink an opened wine after 2 years?

Generally, no. It depends on the type of wine, but most opened wines are unsafe to drink after two years because of oxidation.

How can you tell if wine is bad without opening it?

You can always look for the expiration date on the bottle to check if the bottle has gone bad.

Can bacteria grow in old wine?

Yes, bacteria can grow old wines, especially in an opened bottle.

Does wine get better with age?

Yes, most wine gets better with age because aging greatly impacts wine’s flavor. [2]

What can I do with old unopened wine?

You can use old unopened wine as a marinade, make vinegar, or simply dispose of it in the sink.

Does unopened wine go bad if not refrigerated?

No, unopened wine doesn’t go bad if not refrigerated. 

How long does unopened wine last at room temperature?

An unopened wine can last a year or two at consistent room temperature, away from heat and sunlight exposure.

Key Takeaways 

Unopened wine bottles last longer, especially when stored properly in a dark, cool place and away from sunlight.

Wines can have different expiration depending on their type. Red and white wines normally last about two years, while fine wines can last up to 20 years.

Proper storage can maximize wine bottle longevity, but you should always be aware knowing each of its helps you enjoy it better.

References: 

  1. https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/oxidation 
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8465960/ 

Lisa Dimarco

Lisa is a freelance lifestyle writer specializing in nightlife, leisure, and celebration. She has been in the field for eight years and has written articles featured in various local blogs and lifestyle magazines. For Lisa, there’s nothing better than an ice-cold drink after a rough day (she’s not fussy). But she also likes to get a bit fancy every now and then. She believes you can never go wrong with a Moscow Mule or a classic Daiquiri anywhere you go. Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here.

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