Does Wine Expire?

You’ve heard that wine should be stored at room temperature, but does that mean it expires after a certain amount of time? Wines are a lot more complex than other regular liquids that you might be more familiar with.

How can you know if wine expires – how long, exactly, does it take until wine is no longer safe to drink?

If you find yourself wondering these questions, then you’ve come to the right place! This is an article that will explore the expiration of wine. We’re going to be looking at how this affects your bottles of wine today!

We want this to be a comprehensive article, so we’ve also added a Frequently Asked Questions section that will answer any additional questions you might have about wine.

Can Wine Spoil? 

The short answer is yes. Wine can go bad over time. However, there are some things you can do to help prevent this from happening.

The first thing you need to understand is that all wines contain yeast. Yeast is what ferments the sugars in grapes into alcohol. If the yeast dies off or becomes inactive, then fermentation stops and the wine goes bad.

There are two main types of yeast: Saccharomyces cerevisiae (the kind found in beer) and Brettanomyces bruxellensis (the kind found in wine). 

These yeasts are very similar, but they work differently. S. cerevisiae works best when temperatures are around 18-20 degrees Celsius (64-68 degrees Fahrenheit), while B. bruxellensis thrives in higher temperatures.

The second important factor is oxygen. Oxygen causes oxidation, which is why wine gets browner as it ages.

Storing Wine Incorrectly 

So, what happens if you store your wine incorrectly? When you buy a bottle of wine, it comes sealed in a cork. Cork is made up of cellulose and lignin, both of which are natural compounds.

Cellulose absorbs moisture from the air, causing the cork to expand slightly. 

As the cork expands, it pushes out the oxygen inside the bottle. Lignin acts like glue, holding the cork together. Over time, the cork starts to dry out, which means it loses its ability to hold back the oxygen. 

Once this happens, the oxygen enters the wine and oxidizes it. This process is called autolysis. Autolysis is caused by the presence of oxygen, not heat. Storing wine at low temperatures slows down the rate of autolysis.

How Long Does Wine Last? 

So, now that we know how wine spoils, let’s look at how long it takes for the wine to spoil. Most experts agree that most reds last between 6 months and 2 years. White wines last longer, usually between 1 year and 3 years. 

Some people believe that white wine lasts longer because it contains less sugar, which makes it harder for bacteria to grow. Others say that it has something to do with the type of grape used. 

Regardless, many factors affect how long wine lasts. Let’s look at these now.


One of the biggest things that affect how long wine lasts is temperature. The lower the temperature, the slower the aging process.

For example, a wine kept at 12 degrees Celsius (53 degrees Fahrenheit) will age much faster than one stored at 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit). This is because the lower temperature slows down the autolysis process.


Another big factor that determines how long wine lasts is oxygen. The higher the level of oxygen in the atmosphere, the shorter the lifespan of the wine.

This is because oxygen speeds up the autolysis process, making the wine taste sour and vinegary.

Keep an eye on the label of any wine you purchase and make sure that the “best before” date is well before the actual date printed on the label.


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Wine can also be affected by light. Light causes the color of the wine to fade over time. It does this by breaking down pigments in the wine. This is especially true for whites since their colors come from different chemicals than those in red wine.

Red wine is more susceptible to fading due to the iron content in the pigment molecules.

Storage Location 

The location where you keep your wine also plays a role in how long it lasts. A room with high humidity levels will shorten the lifespan of wine. So, if you want your wine to last as long as possible, try keeping it in a cool, dark place.

If you have a cellar or basement, consider using it to store your wine.

Air Pressure 

Finally, the pressure of the air around your wine can also impact how long it lasts. High-pressure environments cause the wine to lose carbon dioxide quickly. Low-pressure environments allow the gas to stay in the wine longer.

So, if you’re planning on drinking some wine soon, open a few bottles and see how they react. You might find that one bottle tastes better than another.

Final Thoughts

The answer to whether or not wine can spoil isn’t as simple as yes or no – it all depends on how it’s stored and the kind of wine that you have. To be safe, always read the labels on your bottles carefully and store your wine in a cool, dark area.

Also, remember that the best way to enjoy wine is to drink it when it’s fresh!

We hope that this article has given you the answers you need and that you now feel more confident about the topic! If you still have some more questions, check below for a Frequently Asked Questions section that will aim to answer them!

We hope you enjoy your next bottle of wine! 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Get your last-minute questions answered here. 

How Old Is My Wine?

This depends on what kind of wine you have. Since wine comes from grapes, it ages like other fruits. Grapes contain lots of sugars, so they don’t last very long once picked.

They also contain acids, which means that they naturally break down into smaller components over time. 

These components include alcohol, water, acidity, and tannins. As these components change, the wine changes too. For example, as the amount of alcohol increases, the wine becomes sweeter.

When the amount of acid decreases, the wine gets drier. And when the amount of tannin decreases, the wine turns brown. In general, red wines tend to get older quicker than white ones.

What Happens To My Wine After I Open It?

When you open a bottle of wine, you are exposing it to oxygen. Oxygen oxidizes the wine, causing chemical reactions that result in flavors such as vinegar, cardboard, and sulfur.

Some people say that opening a bottle of wine immediately after buying it makes it taste worse. 

However, there are ways to slow down this oxidation process. One option is to seal the bottle tightly with a cork or screw cap. Other options include storing the bottle in a refrigerator or freezer.

Why Do Some Wines Go Bad Faster Than Others?

This really depends on the type of wine that you have, but generally speaking, red wines age slower than white ones. White wines contain less sugar, which means that they degrade much faster.

Red wines also contain higher amounts of alcohol, which causes them to degrade much faster. 

Another factor that affects aging speed is temperature. Wines aged at warmer temperatures tend to degrade faster than those kept cold. 

Finally, certain types of yeast can affect how fast wine ages. Yeast converts sugar into ethanol (alcohol) during fermentation. While most yeasts produce only small amounts of ethyl alcohol, some strains produce large quantities.

These “strong” yeasts can make a wine taste stronger or weaker depending on its concentration.

Can I Save Money By Buying Cheap Wine?

Yes, you can save money by buying cheaper wine. But beware: cheap wine often contains preservatives and additives that may harm your health.

If you want to buy cheap wine, look for brands that use natural ingredients instead of chemicals. 

You should also avoid products that claim to be “natural,” since many companies add artificial colors and sweeteners to give their products an appealing appearance.

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