How Long Does Unopened Wine Last?

How long does unopened wine last? Spoiler alert! If you guessed red wine will last longer than white wine, you’re right!

But exactly which varietal and exactly how long? We’ve got you covered.

When it comes to wine, the practice of aging can make it taste even better. But how long should you let that wine sit unopened in your wine rack or wine cellar before opening it?

Will it still taste good?

That’s one question that many wine drinkers ponder. If wine gets better with age, then how long does it last when the bottle is unopened? Naturally, it has a longer shelf-life than a bottle that you’ve opened, however, even unopened wine can go bad.

how long does wine last unopened

Before you throw out a bottle you have yet to open with a printed expiration date that has already gone by, there are a few other things you should know. Namely that wine past its expiration date can still safely be consumed, though it will depend on a few other factors.

How Long Do Styles Of Wine Last When Unopened?

storing unopened wine

How to store unopened wine

Hopefully, you’re storing your wines properly. Ideally, you’ll keep them in cool, dark places.

If you have a collection, the ideal location is a designated space.

A basement cellar has very little, if any temperature fluctuation and so makes an ideal location.

Or, if your wine is on display, you’ll want to control the humidity, light and vibration.

The bottles should also be stored on their sides to keep the cork from getting dried out. Nobody likes a dry cork, trust me!

Stored properly, you can expect your wines to last a bit longer than the expiration date you see printed on the bottle.

Unopened, here’s how long they should last:

  • Red wine lasts 2–5 years beyond the expiration date.
  • White wine can manage 1–2 years past that date.
  • Fine wine has longer with 10–20 years though it must be properly stored within a wine cellar.

How long does red wine last unopened?

  • Zinfandel 2-5 years
  • Merlot 3-5 years
  • Pinot Noir 5 years
  • Cabernet Sauvignon 7-10 years
  • Ports will last several years. Some even decades with the proper storage.

How long does White wine last unopened?

  • Chardonnay 2-3 years. However, better Chardonnay can keep for 5-7 years
  • Riesling 3-5 years
  • Sauvignon Blanc 18 months to 2 years
  • Pinot Gris 1-2 years

How long does Prosecco last unopened?

An unopened bottle of Prosecco can last for about two years from the date of bottling. But Prosecco does not improve with age like other white wines. It’s best to drink Prosecco within a year of bottling to enjoy the gorgeous fresh and fruity flavor. Yeah, we have a thing for Prosecco.

How to Tell When Unopened Wine Has Gone Bad

As you can see, the printed expiration date may not always be the best indicator for whether or not your unopened wine is still good. With most bottles, you’ll have to uncork it and find out.

Changes in color are one of the first things to look for, though that might not be visible from the outside looking in. Red wines that look brownish or white wines that turn golden or opaque, that’s a sign your wine has gone bad. Color changes signify exposure to too much oxygen. 

If you can’t see the color of your wine through the unopened bottle, open it up and smell it. Unopened wine that has gone bad will have a horrible smell that will clue you in immediately, something akin to burnt rubber, garlic, or cabbage, depending on the wine. 

Still not sure if that bottle is any good? Give it a taste. You may find it has undergone unplanned fermentation that leaves you with little bubbles in the wine, or it could just have a sharp, sour taste. Others describe it as the taste of burnt applesauce. 

No harm will come to you if you taste a wine that has gone bad. Though if it exhibits any of these signs, don’t continue drinking it. Sorry to say, but it is no longer good to drink. Then again, that gives you a good excuse to go out and buy a new fresh bottle of wine to enjoy!

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How Long Does Unopened Wine Last FAQ

How long can you keep an unopened bottle of wine?

Red wine lasts 2–3 years beyond the expiration date.
White wine can manage 1–2 years past that date.
Fine wine has longer with 10–20 years though it must be properly stored within a wine cellar.

Where is the expiration date on wine?

Not all wines display an expiration date. But if they do, they are generally on the bottom side of the bottle. The vintage date is important indicator. Red wine lasts about 3-5 years after the vintage date, white wine lasts 2 years past the vintage date and fine wine possibly 10-20 years past the vintage date.

Is 20 year old wine still good?

Maybe a 20 year old wine is still good if it’s a rare wine or a Port wine. White wine 1–2 years; Red wine 2–3 years; Fine wine: 10–20 years, assuming they are stored properly in a wine cellar.

How long does unopened wine last at room temperature?

Wine can be stored at room temperature for about 6 months before any major damage has occurred, assuming it’s not in sunlight or by a heat source.

Can I drink 3 year old unopened wine?

When stored properly, unopened white wines can often live past their recommended drinking window by 1-2 years, red wines by 2-3 years, Prosecco about 2 years past bottling, Port and fine wine can last unopened for decades potentially.

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