How Long can Wine Age Before it Goes Bad? – 5 Tips to Extend the Life of Your Wine

How Long can Wine Age Before it Goes Bad? - 5 Tips to Extend the Life of Your Wine

As an adult who enjoys a glass of red with your dinner or a Friday night glass of Merlot, you may wonder how long can wine age before it goes bad? When you open a bottle of wine, you’re drinking something that has been aging for years.

Does wine have an expiration date? There are many factors that affect the length of time wine can age before going bad. It all depends on how much alcohol is in the wine, where it’s stored, and even variations in humidity.

However, most wines will keep fresh with the right storage conditions for quite some time. If you’re wondering how long can wine age before going bad, this article will answer your questions and more. Keep reading to learn more about storing different types of wine, as well as their shelf life once opened.

Wines are complex and sophisticated beverages with a rich history. They’re also fermented grape juices — which means they have a limited shelf life. Once you crack that cork, there’s a finite amount of time before your wine goes bad.

How Long Can You Keep Wine Before It Goes Bad?

To ensure that your wine has aged well, fine wine should be stored for 10 to 20 years in a wine cellar before it’s ready to drink. This is because the aging process — which consists of fermentation and the evaporation of some of the alcohol, water, and volatile acidity — only starts after the wine has been bottled.

Even then, the wine will continue to age in your cellar. The alcohol level can be cut by drinking a bottle within one or two years of opening. However, it’s best not to hold onto an open bottle for more than six months if you want things to stay fresh tasting.

Thus, fine wine should be stored in a wine cellar for 10 to 20 years before it’s ready to drink.

How Long Does Red Wine Last?

How Long Does Red Wine Last?

Red wine will be fresh for 2–3 years past the printed expiration date after which it may go bad. It’s difficult to say how long a bottle of red wine will last for any individual consumer.

Red wines usually require at least nine months to a year, but older vintages can require up to five years or more to reach peak flavor (and cost).

The best way to tell if your red wine has gone bad is by smelling it — if it smells vinegary, moldy, or otherwise off, then you should pour it out.

How Long Does White Wine Last?

White wine will be fresh for 1–2 years past the expiration date printed on the bottle. Wines are classified by color, and white wines are typically made from white grapes.

White wines have a much shorter shelf life than red wines and can last anywhere from one to two years past the printed expiration date. However, this largely depends on how you store it.

How Long Does Rosé Last?

Rosé wines are typically made from red wine grapes that have been left to sit on the grape skins for a while. This process allows the red grape juice to lose its color, but it’s not going to keep your rosé wine fresh forever.

Because rosé is made from both white and red grapes, it starts out in the sweet spot for aging at about two years old. After that, it’ll start going downhill — faster if you don’t store it properly.

The best way to store rosé after opening is to use an airtight container topped off with a small amount of wine or champagne. This will keep your rosé drinkable for about a year after opening.

How Long Does Sparkling Wine Last?

Sparkling wines come with a shelf life of about five years. This is because the wine’s natural CO2 bubbles help to preserve it for a time — but these bubbles eventually dissipate and are replaced with air.

This means you can enjoy your bubbly wine for up to five years after it was bottled before it goes bad.

How Long Does Cooking wine Last?

Cooking wine will last up to 3–5 years past the expiration date printed on the label. Cooking wine is a deceptive term. It doesn’t actually refer to the complex flavors that can result from cooking with wine, but instead, it’s an inexpensive, low-quality product meant solely for this purpose.

This type of wine usually has a very short shelf life — sometimes as little as six months or less. Manufacturers stamp a printed expiration date on the bottle and recommend you throw it out after this date.

What to Do If Your Bottle Is Already Going Bad?

Wine in the cooking category can be used for 3 to 5 years after the expiration date printed on the label, while wines in the category of dry white wine should be kept for 2 to 4 years after its expiration date.

For medium-bodied red wines, you can keep them for 1 to 3 years. If you think your wine has gone bad, the best thing to do is to throw it away.

The Bad News: Once You Crack That Cork, It Doesn’t Last Long

The average shelf life of wines is anywhere from six months to two years. But the time period can vary depending on factors like temperature and how long the wine was aged before you bought it.

It’s best to store your wine in an area with a relatively constant temperature (around 60 degrees Fahrenheit), away from direct sunlight, and out of direct contact with wood or plastic (which can both cause cork taint).

Tips to Extend the Life of Your Wine

The Good News: There Are Ways to Delay the Process

Wine will eventually spoil — but depending on how you store it, that time can be shortened significantly. The following are a few of the most common reasons wine is spoiled:

  • Exposure to sunlight or fluorescent light can cause your wine to go bad.
  • Too much air contact changes the nitric acid in your wine and can cause oxidation, a chemical reaction that leads to a host of potential problems like reduction of flavor and coloration. With oxidation, the wine can turn brown.
  • Your cork might allow bacteria and other contaminants into your wine. This can happen if the cork has been treated with chemicals (like formaldehyde) or if it’s old and dried out. The longer a cork is exposed to oxygen, the more likely it is to deteriorate — which means there’s an increased risk for contamination. To ensure wine lasts for longer use a hermetic cork.
  • Heat speeds up the spoilage process by encouraging evaporation, which means your wine won’t last as long in warmer temperatures.
  • Remember to decant it into a smaller vessel. This ensures that the larger amount of wine stays fresh as you consume the small amount of decanted wine.
  • Don’t open the bottle of wine at all if it will not be fully consumed within 3 days. If you are sure that you will not finish the bottle soon, do not open the bottle at all.

Tannin is The Key to Knowing When Your Wine Goes Bad

Tannin is the key to knowing when your wine goes bad. This ingredient, which is found in grape skins, helps give red wines their flavor. But tannin breaks down over time — and once it disappears, your wine will turn into vinegar.

Old tannins are a sign that your wine has gone bad and turned into vinegar. If you smell sour smells or taste tart flavors, it means your vino has spoiled. You’ll know if your wine has gone bad if you see signs like mold on the cork.

If you store white wines in dark places, like a cabinet with windows or a refrigerator with a light on, they will spoil more quickly than reds. White wines need to be stored at cooler temperatures for example in a wine cooler to avoid going bad faster (since they have less tannin).

Also, remember that white wines should never be refrigerated because it can lead to off-flavors or “corked” smells and tastes.

Aging Isn’t Just For Fine Wine

Aging wine is a process that happens after fermentation and leads to some pretty impressive results — assuming you wait long enough. Aging red wines usually require at least nine months to a year, but older vintages can require up to five years or more to reach peak flavor (and cost).

Some wines age better than others — for example, white wines tend to lose their freshness quickly due to their delicate aromas. That said, there are exceptions for aging white wine.

For example, some Champagne ages well because it’s typically made from a blend of grape varieties that produce different flavors over time.

And then there are wines like Malbec from Argentina which can develop a deep color and rich texture with age.

Can wine last 25 years?

Most of the wines are designed to be consumed within 18 months of bottling but there are some that can be consumed within 5 years of purchase, however, some wines are designed for long-term aging where these wines can be cellared for decades.

In terms of the shelf life of your average wine, most wines will taste best within 18 months of bottling and should be consumed within five years. However, there are many wines that are designed to age and these types can be cellared for decades.

How long can you age a wine?

Some wines are meant to be consumed young for example aged for just three to five years, while others can be aged in a cellar for decades. Most wines fall somewhere in the middle and can age for three to five years before they go bad.

Aging wine is a process that happens after fermentation and leads to some pretty impressive results — assuming you wait long enough. Aging red wines usually require at least nine months to a year, but older vintages can require up to five years or more to reach peak flavor (and cost).

Keep reading for tips on how long you can safely keep different types of wine before they go bad — and what you should do if your bottle becomes infected beforehand.

  • White wines: White wines are fermented quickly and don’t need as much aging time as reds. They typically have a shelf life of one year or less, so drink them soon after you purchase them.
  • Reds: Reds require more time in order to develop their flavors for aging purposes. Some varieties, like Cabernet Sauvignon, can be aged for longer than five years due to their tannins — the substance that creates rich flavors in wine by extracting from grape skins during fermentation.

When it comes to reds though, most will last up to five years before going bad, but the better ones will last much longer than that (some even 20+ years).

Can you drink wine that’s a hundred years old?

Some wine including a Port is ok while other types have already gone bad at the time it reaches 100 years old. Wine is a product of the vine, which is a fruit. As a result, it’s exposed to oxygen and other natural elements that can cause it to spoil and go bad.

The length of time that your wine lasts after you open it depends on how you store it. If you keep your wine in the fridge, you should use it within three days. Wine stored in the fridge will also change flavor due to contact with vegetables — so don’t put anything else in there with your wine.

In a cool place like an unheated garage or basement, your wine can last for up to five months or longer. You should avoid storing your wines near any sources of heat!

If you store your wine in a cellar or room where temperatures are below 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius), the aging process will continue at a slower rate and your wines will last for years or decades without spoiling.

However, if temperatures rise above 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius), this may make the beverage spoil faster than usual. In general, red wines age better than whites as they have higher levels of tannins that provide protection from oxygen and give them more complexity over time.

It’s recommended that you drink red wines between one year and four years old while still fresh; however, some red wines might be ok after 30-50 years! The type of wine can also affect its shelf life: certain types of red wine such as port can taste better after 100 years.

How long can you keep unopened wine?

Different wines have differences in how long wine is good for unopened. The length of time that you can keep unopened wine is dependent on the type of wine as shown below:

Type of wineYears after the drinking window
White wine1-2 years past the expiry date
Red wine2-3 years past the expiry date
Cooking wine3-5 years past the expiry date

Can unopened wine go bad?

Unopened wine can go bad after some time. This is because of the natural process of fermentation that causes the alcohol and sugar to react, which in turn creates a byproduct called ethyl acetate.

This byproduct is what causes wine to go bad over time. Plus, it’s important to consider the quality of your wine. The higher-quality wines have a narrower peak aging window because they are more susceptible to going bad quicker than lower-quality wines.

Does all wine get better with age?

All wine gets better with age but that age varies from wine to wine and from vintage to vintage. For example, wines that age well include Maury, dolcetto, zinfandel, syrah, and shiraz.

How long is a bottle of wine good for?

Once you open a bottle of wine, it’s best to drink it as soon as possible. Unlike other types of alcohol, like vodka or gin, wines are more likely to go bad after being opened.

This is because of the oxidation process. The oxygen mixed with the wine can cause bacteria to form and sour the taste.

If you do choose to keep the wine for a bit longer after opening, be sure to store it in an airtight container and in the fridge — otherwise, it could take up to three days before it goes bad.

Can old wine make you sick?

In some cases taking wine that has gone bad can make you sick. Spoiled wine is more likely to be infected with a type of bacteria called acetobacter.

Acetobacter turns alcohol into acetic acid, which gives wine that vinegar smell. If a bottle smells like vinegar and has turned cloudy, it’s definitely been infected by acetobacter — and you should toss it out.

Bottom Line

Wine is a fermented grape juice, which means it has a limited shelf life. After you open the bottle, you have a finite amount of time before it goes bad – which depends on how long you store it and what type of wine you buy. Aged wines usually require at least nine months to a year to reach peak flavor (and cost), but older vintages can require up to five years or more.

Wines are complex and sophisticated beverages with a rich history. They’re also fermented grape juices — which means they have a limited shelf life. Once you crack that cork, there’s a finite amount of time before your wine goes bad. How much time depends on how you store it and the type of wine you buy.

How much time depends on how you store it and the type of wine you buy. Aging wine is a process that happens after fermentation and leads to some pretty impressive results — assuming you wait long enough.

Aging red wines usually require at least nine months to a year, but older vintages can require up to five years or more to reach peak flavor (and cost). Keep reading for tips on how long you can safely keep different types of wine before they go bad — and what you should do if your bottle becomes infected beforehand.

FAQs

How long can the white wine age before it goes bad?

White wines have a lower alcohol content than red wines and are meant to be consumed relatively soon. White wines should not be aged for more than two years, with one year being the maximum length of time you should wait before drinking.

How long can red wine age before it goes bad?

Red wines have a higher alcohol content and are best when they’ve been aged for at least nine months. You should wait at least five years or more if you want the best flavor — but know that the older the wine is, the higher the risk of spoilage.

How long can sparkling wine age before it goes bad?

Sparkling wines usually don’t need much aging at all. They’re fine to drink after two to three days of opening as long as you store them in a cool place and keep them away from light and other factors that can oxidize the wine quickly (like heat). The exception is Champagne, which typically needs about three years to fully mature.

What if my bottle of wine has gone bad?

If you think your bottle has gone bad, there are some telltale signs: if it smells musty or like vinegar, if it tastes sour or funky, or if it turns cloudy rather than clear when you pour it into a glass. In these cases, throw away any opened bottles of white or red grape-based wine within 24 hours to avoid food poisoning.

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