Keeping wine fresh and long-lasting can be tricky, not only for those offering hospitality such as wedding venues, hotels, and restaurants, but also for anyone who needs high-quality wine preservation such as specialist wine merchants, and in fact, for anyone enjoying a glass of wine at home too.
So understanding how long wine lasts after opening is an important consideration for many of us!
In this article today we are going to explore many of our most popular wines and give you the definitive answer.
How long does wine last after opening? Red wine lasts between 1-3 days depending on the type and up to 5 days if highly tannic. White wine with corks between 2-3 days or up to 5 days for some screw tops providing they are refrigerated. Prosecco and Moscato have a shorter time at 3 days maximum. Champagne can last between 3-5 days. Assuming all wines are correctly stored.
Now we’ve provided a quick summary so that we can understand a little more easily how long wine lasts after opening, let’s start first by discovering what happens to wine after it’s opened.
What happens to wine after it’s opened
Wines stored after opening can go bad in two major ways.
- Metabolizes: The first way is when acetic acid bacteria consume the alcohol in wine and metabolizes it into acetic acid and acetaldehyde. This causes the wine to have a sharp, vinegar-like smell.
- Oxidation: Along with metabolism, the alcohol in wines that are opened can oxidize, causing a nutty, bruised fruit taste, that will remove the fresh flavor of the wine.
These are both chemical reactions. By storing the wine at a lower temperature, the wine will not metabolize or oxidize as quickly, keeping the wine drinkable and fresher for longer.
So now we can see exactly how wine is affected when opened, let’s look at wine expiry and if the wine has a ‘shelf life’.
“By storing the wine at a lower temperature, the wine will not metabolize or oxidize as quickly, keeping the wine drinkable and fresher for longer.”
Does wine expire?
While some wines are designed to be drunk within a year and some are produced to stash away for a decade or more, the good news is that the majority of today’s wines are best enjoyed within a few years of release.
Champagne and other bubbly wines won’t “go bad” but they do age, just like other wines.
This means their flavor profiles will evolve and, in the case of sparkling wines, they’ll eventually lose some or all of their effervescence and bubbly quality.
However, although wine doesn’t exactly expire, it can start to show signs that it is past its best.
Luckily, there are several precautions you can take to maintain the quality of your wine and ensure it stays fresh, for example, whether it’s to be opened in a month, a year, or if it’s already opened and you’re wondering how long it will last.
So now we’ve seen how long wine lasts after it’s opened, you might be wondering how long wine lasts before you pop that cork! Let’s find out below.
“…there are several precautions you can take to maintain the quality of your wine and ensure it stays fresh”
How long does wine last before it’s opened?
The best way to enjoy wine fresh is to drink it shortly after you purchase it.
However, for those in the hospitality trade, it’s most likely this won’t be the case.
Most ready-to-drink wines are at their best quality within 3 to 5 years of production, although they will stay safe indefinitely when properly stored.
Fine wines can retain their quality for many decades.
In general, you can enjoy unopened wine about 1–5 years after the expiration date, depending on the type of wine. If no expiration date is indicated on the bottle, then check the vintage date (year when grapes were harvested).
Check out our handy guide below.
- White wine: 1–2 years past the printed expiration date / vintage year
- Red wine: 2–3 years past the printed expiration date / vintage year
- Cooking wine: 3–5 years past the printed expiration date / vintage year
- Fine wine: 10–20 years, stored properly in a wine cellar
- Champagne: As a rule, non-vintage Champagnes can be kept unopened for three to four years, and vintage cuvées for five to ten years.
“In general, you can enjoy unopened wine about 1–5 years after the expiration date, depending on the type of wine.”
How long does wine last after it’s been opened?
- Red wine – Low-tannin reds, like pinot noir and merlot, will last for one to three days – but higher tannin wines should be delicious for up to five days after opening, as long as you treat them with care.
- White wine – An opened bottle of white or rosé wine should be able to last for at least two to three days in the refrigerator if using a cork stopper. Some styles with screw tops may last up to five days when stored at correct temperatures (45-55˚F (8-12˚C)). This temperature ensures the white wine doesn’t lose its aroma.
- Sparkling wine –. Certain sparkling wines like Prosecco and Moscato don’t last as long as traditional method sparkling wines (i.e. champagne, cava, and so on). Aim to drink your Prosecco ASAP — definitely no more than 3 days after first popping the cork.
- Champagne – Once you open the bottle champagne has a shelf life of about 3 to 5 days. After this point, it’ll go flat, and it will begin to lose some of its flavor profile.
So why is it so important to store wine at the correct temperature?
Why do I need to store wine at proper temperatures?
Even when a wine hasn’t been uncorked or opened, it deteriorates as much as 4 times faster when stored at room temperature (around 70ºF) than in a cool, stable environment.
Temperature fluctuations can cause the cork to expand and contract, allowing the wine to seep out or air to enter the wine bottle.
It’s also important to store wine bottles horizontally.
Even more crucial is that bottles of wine should be kept away from direct sunlight due to the sun’s UV rays which can degrade and prematurely age wine.
It’s also important to keep your wine bottles in a place that is stable to ensure the wine doesn’t become agitated.
“Even when a wine hasn’t been uncorked or opened, wine deteriorates as much as 4 times faster when stored at room temperature (around 70ºF) than in a cool, stable environment.”
Signs wine has deteriorated
Watch for these signs that indicate your wine is no longer in prime condition:
- Newer vintages of red wine such as Beaujolais may have turned brown or a white wine that has become yellowish-brown in color
- A distinctively unpleasant smell which could be described as vinegary, musty, or even like wet cardboard
- The cork mat he slightly pushed out from the top of the bottle which can show that the cork wasn’t properly replaced, or the bottle has been overheated
- The wine now tastes like mildew or mold
“A distinctively unpleasant smell which could be described as vinegary, musty, or even like wet cardboard”
And before you go…
We are proud to offer the most advanced wine preservation solutions and unique wine cabinets along with a dedicated project manager.
We also offer full training on operations at the point of install, and our expert team will work alongside carpenters, architects, and other crucial members of your team.
Find out more and get a quote today.