How Long Does White Wine Last?

You took an impromptu visit to the grocery store and discovered they were having a massive sale on wines. Even though you were popping in for necessities, you do the smart and reasonable thing and take advantage of the deal and buy every bottle of wine you can get your hands on. Does this sound like you? Great, let's talk you down for the impending anxiety attack. 

What Is The Shelf Life of Wine?

When you return home, you realize you don't have enough storage in your tiny apartment because you purchased enough wine to supply an entire Greek system at a public college for the night. And although that causes you anxiety, the real fear seeps in when you realize: will I be able to drink all of this before it goes bad?

So, if the person I am talking about is you or you generally are curious about how long wine lasts, here is what you need to know!

First, there are a variety of factors that affect the shelf life of wine. These include the vintage, label, preparation method, and how it's stored.

An unopened bottle of white wine can last 1-2 years past the date written on the bottle. Red wines are typically good for 2-3 years before they turn vinegary. If you're worried about your cooking wine, don't worry! You have 3 to 5 years to enjoy the wine before its printed expiration date. As for the best quality fine wine, who is always a little extra, you have 10-20 years to enjoy this wine, assuming you store it properly. 

Does The Type of White Wine Impact The Longevity of The Wine?

Alright, we already ripped off the band-aid on this one. White wine doesn't last as long as other types of wines because they're not fermented in their grape skins. White wine also has lower acidity, and acidity slows chemical interactions that cause wines to go bad. 

But there are a few types of white wine that age well, and some even get better with time, if you happen to have a wine cellar. These are the ones to look out for:  

  • Chardonnay: Its ability to age is a joining of higher acidity joined with oak-aging, which adds tannin.  
  • Semillon: It is known to age gracefully and even produces nutty flavors over time. 
  • Riesling: As Riesling ages, it becomes a creamy yellow color known to get better and better with time. 

How to Properly Store White Wine?

But let's talk about how you should store the wine. Apparently, wine is an introvert and prefers to be stored in cool, dark places because the lower temperatures slow down chemical reactions and keep wine fresh longer before it begins the oxidation process. Not sure why we didn't learn about these chemical reactions in chemistry class because these are necessary life skills, but we'll take that up with the school board later.  

The other thing you should know is, wine should also be placed on its side to prevent the cork from drying out, but a wine that's not as high maintenance doesn't care which way she's stored. 

According to experts, storing wine above the fridge, below the stove, or near a dishwasher are the worst possible places you can store your wine. Why? Because your wine will be heated alongside the appliance. So yeah, that actually makes sense....*makes a mental note to take Bev cans off of the refrigerator later* 

How Long Is Wine Good For After Opened?

We already shared how long wine can last before it's been opened, let's talk about an opened bottle of wine. As always, this depends on the type of wine. Here is a break down of how long an open bottle of wine lasts:

Sparkling wine: 1–2 days

Light white and rosé: 4–5 days

Rich white: 3–5 days

Red wine: 3–6 days

Dessert wine: 3–7 days

Port: 1–3 weeks

If you're worried that you have a bad wine, there are a few apparent giveaways that will make it clear if your wine has gone bad. In fact, you can usually tell if your wine is bad even before you open the bottle. A leaky cork, change in liquid color, or a dusty settlement in the wine bottle are all signs that the wine has gone bad. 

Many people think that the only way to tell if a wine is bad is through taste. But relying on that isn't the best because wine can be significantly affected by its paired food. 

Here are some smells and tastes to be aware of that are sure signs your wine has gone bad: 

  • Smells like sweaty horse or band-aids: This signifies that your wine has Brettanomyces bacteria present in the wine. 
  • Tastes like sauerkraut: Although some people sing sauerkraut's praises, it isn't exactly what you want your wine to taste like. If it does, this means that your wine is rampant with lactic acid.  
  • Strong Vinegar qualities: This is created by volatile acidity and acetic acid due to extended exposure to oxygen or yeasts.  
  • Fizzy in a Still Wine: Although many wines are intentionally created to have fizz, like Prosecco and Champagne, if you have purchased a still wine that suddenly has fizz, this isn't a good sign. This happens because the wine was bottled without sterilization, and the yeast decides it's time to munch on the leftover sugar. 
  • Dull and Brown: This is likely caused by oxygen seeping into the bottle.
  • Smells like a rotten egg: Yikes. As you can imagine, this is never a good sign. Wines that smell like rotten eggs often didn't get enough oxygen during the winemaking process. 

To slow down the spoilage of opened wine for both red and wine, you can decant it into a small container as soon as possible and put it in the fridge. Honestly, any old jar will do. You got creative in college when you participated in an ABC party (aka Anything But Cups party), and you can do it again to double the shelf life of wine roughly.  

A wine stopper might slow the process a bit as well, but if if you're using the highest quality bottle stopper on the planet, you probably still want to finish that wine before the next day. If you just recork it, that's even more risky. 

Why does this work? The mean bacteria that turns wine into vinegar feed on oxygen. To prevent this chemical process, you lessen the amount of oxygen and, therefore, starve the bacteria and slow down the wine spoilage. Also, note that bacteria like to multiple at room temperature. 

Will The Taste Of White Wine Change After It's Been Opened?

Keep in mind that wine flavors change after being opened, particularly whites, because true to their introverted nature, they are also sensitive to temperature.

We hope this helps you better understand wine and their shelf lives. If you are still concerned about where you will store wine and feel it needs to be enjoyed immediately, a selfless Bev team member would be happy to assist you in drinking the wine.