Wasting a drink is frowned upon, and back in the college days, it was considered a “party foul” of the worst degree. Now, in adulthood, the childish antics of younger years are a thing of the past, but wasting our adult beverages now comes in a different form.
When it comes to wine, many people want to know how long does wine last after opening it, and does wine expire? These are two essential questions because life can get busy and things get forgotten, especially at the back of the fridge or on top of the shelf.
Also, for us bargain shoppers out there, when that favorite wine goes on sale, we pounce on the opportunity to stock up and save some hard-earned cash. Continue reading to get the cold, hard facts on the lifespan of wine and what happens if it does go bad because having the knowledge of your wine can prevent the senseless disposal of quality wine.
Wine fans of all sorts probably have a bottle of pinot or Prosecco in the fridge right now that has been pushed to the back, neglected, and unfinished for quite some time. Whether only a splash was needed for that special pasta recipe or it was opened too late after a long day, no bottle deserves to be left to spoil. But how long does wine last?
There are a few factors that come into play when answering this question.
What type of wine is it?
Not all wine is created equal, from a variety of standpoints, but especially when it comes to the lifespan of when each bottle is opened. On the far end of the lifespan spectrum of wines, Marsala and Madeira will keep their flavor and quality indefinitely after being opened because they are produced oxidized and cooked. On the shorter end of the spectrum are the sparkling wines like Prosecco.
Why does wine go bad?
To spare the lengthy and complex process of how wine goes bad, here is the executive summary: wine can go bad for one of two reasons.
- The first is when the acetic acid bacteria consumes all the alcohol (ethanol molecules) and turns them into acetic acid and acetaldehyde. The leftover product of this reaction leaves the wine with a sharp, vinegar smell and taste, but don’t worry; it won’t harm you if you take a swig before noticing.
- The second reason wine can go bad is caused by oxidation, which is the process when acetaldehyde oxidizes and turns into acetic acid, resulting in vinegar rather than wine. Both culprits are chemical reactions and the best way to combat and slow down the processes (besides finishing the bottle sooner) is to store them in cool and dark places like the fridge.
Signs of wine being spoiled
Since every wine is different, the resulting product from the chemical reactions mentioned above is going to be slightly different. The smell test is the best way to find out if the wine is good or not.
Here are some common things to look for or smell when deciding if a bottle is still prime for consumption.
- Barnyard or manure smell (cause from a bacterium called Brettanomyces)
- Tastes/smells like sauerkraut, rotten eggs, or onions (lactic acid smell resembles fermented cabbage)
- Damp basement or wet dog smell (the result of “cork taint” caused by chlorine-based cleaners coming in contact with the wood)
- Discolored and unwanted bubbles
- Cork differences (if it’s pushing past the rim or wine leak is visible)
How long does the unopened wine last?
Obviously, unopened wines can last much longer than their expiration dates state with proper storing. Most wines are good for a couple of years past their expiration date, and fine wines can last decades if cellared. How long does wine last unopened depends on the storing, type, and the quality of the wine.
As sparkling wine lovers, especially Prosecco appreciators, we know that this bubble-infused delicacy is a fleeting enjoyment. Due to the production process (tank method), the bubbles in Prosecco are extremely delicate and do not hold long after being opened or even unopened.
At Zonin, we believe that our Prosecco is so great that you’ll want to open it right away, which eliminates ever having to ask, “does Prosecco go bad?” Whether celebrating a life milestone or crafting some delicious brunch cocktails, Zonin Prosecco will be your go-to choice. To find your closest Zonin retailer.