Last Updated on March 2, 2024 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?
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 can last for around 2-3 years when unopened and stored properly, but it can only last for 3-5 days if opened.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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
An unopened wine that has gone bad might result in a change in appearance, such as:
- color alteration,
- cloudy apperance, and
- unnecessary bubbles.
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.
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
|Up to 1 month
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.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I drink an opened wine after 2 years?
The drinkability of opened wine after two years depends on several factors, such as the type of wine, storage conditions, and exposure to air. While some wines, particularly robust reds, can benefit from short-term aging, most whites and delicate reds may not retain their freshness. It’s advisable to assess the wine’s aroma and taste before consuming and, when in doubt, consult with a knowledgeable source.
How can you tell if wine is bad without opening it?
Detecting spoilage in wine without opening the bottle can be challenging, but visible signs like a sunken cork, seepage, or mold growth suggest potential issues. Additionally, inspecting for discoloration or sediment can be indicators. However, the most reliable assessment occurs when you open the bottle and assess the aroma and taste for any off-putting odors or flavors.
Can bacteria grow in old wine?
While wine’s acidity and alcohol content generally inhibit bacterial growth, spoilage bacteria can still affect wine, particularly if exposed to air or stored improperly. Cork taint, caused by a mold compound, is an example of bacterial spoilage that imparts undesirable flavors to the wine.
Does wine get better with age?
Not all wines improve with age; this concept primarily applies to certain high-tannin reds and complex whites. Aging allows these wines to mellow, integrate flavors, and develop unique characteristics. However, the majority of wines, especially those meant for immediate consumption, may lose vibrancy and freshness over time.
What can I do with old unopened wine?
Several options exist for repurposing old, unopened wine. It can be used for cooking, marinating, or crafting homemade vinegars. Alternatively, donating to a local winery or participating in wine preservation techniques, like Coravin, can extend the wine’s life while minimizing waste.
Does unopened wine go bad if not refrigerated?
Unopened wine typically does not go bad if stored in a cool, dark place. While refrigeration slows down the aging process, most wines are designed to withstand room temperature conditions for short to medium durations without spoiling.
How long does unopened wine last at room temperature?
The longevity of unopened wine at room temperature varies based on factors like the wine’s style, alcohol content, and storage conditions. Generally, red wines can last a few days to weeks, while white wines may maintain quality for a slightly shorter period. Sparkling wines, due to their effervescence, are best consumed sooner. However, proper storage in a cool, dark place can extend the lifespan of unopened wine, preserving its flavors and preventing premature aging.
Can you drink 20-year-old unopened wine?
The drinkability of 20-year-old unopened wine depends on various factors, including the type of wine, storage conditions, and whether it was meant for extended aging; generally, high-quality reds, such as Bordeaux or Barolo, may evolve beautifully, while delicate whites might lose vibrancy.
Does wine have an expiry date?
Wine doesn’t have a definitive expiry date, but its quality and taste can evolve over time; most wines, even reds, are not meant for long-term aging, and it’s advisable to check the producer’s recommendations for optimal drinking windows.
Can you keep wine for 20 years?
Certain wines, particularly robust reds like Cabernet Sauvignon or Nebbiolo, are crafted for extended aging and can indeed improve over 20 years if stored in ideal conditions—dark, cool, and with stable humidity levels—but the majority of wines are best consumed within a few years of purchase.
Can you drink 10-year-old unopened wine?
The drinkability of 10-year-old unopened wine depends on factors like storage conditions, grape variety, and the winemaking process; high-quality reds may develop complexity, while whites or more delicate reds may lose freshness—checking for any signs of spoilage upon opening is crucial.
How can I tell if my wine has gone bad?
Several signs can indicate that wine has gone bad: if it has a strong vinegar smell or off-putting, musty odors; a murky or unusually dark color; a fizzy appearance (unless intentional as in sparkling wines); or a sour or unpleasant taste—all these factors suggest spoilage, and it’s best to discard such wine.
Does wine expire in the fridge?
While wine can last longer when stored in the fridge, it doesn’t have a strict expiration date; however, prolonged exposure to air, even in a chilled environment, can still impact the wine’s flavor, especially for delicate whites and lighter reds.
Where is the expiration date on a wine bottle?
Unlike perishable goods, wine typically lacks a clear expiration date printed on the bottle; instead, producers often provide a vintage year indicating the harvest, and it’s crucial to interpret this information alongside storage recommendations to gauge the wine’s potential longevity.
Is it OK to drink wine that has turned?
Drinking wine that has turned, exhibiting off-flavors like vinegar or mustiness, is not recommended as it compromises the overall enjoyment and could indicate spoilage, potentially caused by oxidation or microbial activity.
Does unopened wine go bad if not refrigerated?
Unopened wine generally doesn’t go bad if stored at a consistent, cool temperature, but exposure to heat and fluctuating conditions can accelerate aging, affecting the wine’s quality over time.
How long can wine age and still be good?
The aging potential of wine varies based on factors like grape variety, winemaking techniques, and storage conditions. Generally, high-tannin reds like Cabernet Sauvignon or Nebbiolo can age for several decades, evolving and developing complexity, while delicate whites or lighter reds are best consumed within a few years of release. Optimal aging occurs in a dark, cool environment with stable humidity levels, allowing the wine to mature gracefully and showcase its unique characteristics.
So, How Long Does Wine Last Unopened?
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.