Does wine go off?

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 02/28/2020

Reading time: 3 mins

Though the shelf-life of wine can span for years or even decades, it doesn’t last forever.

When we buy a bottle of wine, it’s very rare that we check for the used-by date. In fact, many people don’t even realise they have a used by date!

There are many styles, types, and qualities of wine and these factors will all impact the speed in which it needs to be drunk, but hopefully this rough guide will be useful in your wine crusades.

  • White wine

    White wines will generally last no more than two years after the printed expiration date. Of course you should always check the wine before drinking, however if it is unopened then it is likely to be okay to drink.

    It is worth remembering that white wines do not get better with age as many red wines to, so it is best to drink them sooner rather than later. If you cellar a white wine you are likely to ruin its taste. An easy rule of thumb is that if you spent less than $30 on the bottle you should drink sooner, not later.

    Additionally, you should not refrigerate white wine until you intend to drink it. Sitting in such a cold environment for long periods of time (weeks or months) can change the structural integrity of the wine. This is especially true for wines with corks, as the moisture is pulled from the cork air is likely to leak into the bottle and lead to oxidisation.

    Opened white wine

    If you have opened a bottle of white wine, it is best drunk immediately. If you don’t finish the bottle in one sitting, it will keep okay in the fridge for up to three days. Keep in mind though that the longer it has been opened for, the more it will oxidise and change flavour.

  • Red Wine

    Red wines are more hardy than white and will last up to three years after the expiration date. Many red wines will improve over time if they are stored properly. However, it is important to remember that your bottle shop wine is not a fine wine. While it may improve over a short period (6 – 18 months) it should not be left to cellar for years or decades.

    Similar to white wine, unless you are paying big money for your bottle of red, it is probably best drunk close to the date of purchase.

    Opened red wine

    A properly re-sealed red wine will last an additional one to two weeks after opening. However, if the whole bottle was decanted at time of opening, it may not keep well over a period of time.

    You should also remember that a light red will not last as long as a deep or rich red.

  • Fine Wines

    Fine wines are designed to be cellared for years at a time before opening. They are typically quite expensive bottles of wine and once opened you’re best to drink them in one go. If you’ve waited ten or twenty years to open a bottle of wine, you should really be drinking the whole thing anyway.

Hopefully this rough guide will be useful in your pursuits to drink your wine before it spoils!

Related article: How is wine made?

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.

Previous article: