old wine bottled on a shelf

How long does wine last unopened?

If you’re planning to take some wine home from your Tuscan wine tour, you might wonder how long the wine will last.

The shelf life of unopened wine can be anywhere from one to 20 years. So, how do you know how long a wine will keep?

Most labels don’t show a wine expiry date. That’s because a wine’s shelf life depends on several factors which are not all under the winemaker’s control.

Here are general rules of thumb to help you decide how long you can store unopened wine before it goes bad.

Factors affecting the shelf life of unopened wine

There are two main factors affecting how long an unopened bottle of wine will last.

First, the shelf life of wine will depend on how well it’s stored.  In general, wine should be kept in a cool, dark place with the bottle placed on its side.

The second factor is the type of wine.  Red, white, rosé and sparkling wines will each last for different periods of time. The wine’s structure also plays a role here. If the tannins, acidity, and fruitiness are well-balanced, the wine is more likely to last longer.

How long will white wine last unopened?

Most white wines should be enjoyed while they are young – – within one or two years of the vintage date. This is because white wines contain low level of tannins, which help to preserve wine.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule.  One example is the famous Tuscan white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano.  In general the Vernaccia white wine has good body and acidity and can offer incredible complexity over time.

Does Rosé wine last?

You should drink a rosé wine not long after you buy it.  Rosé wine, like this one from the Poggio al Chiuso winery in Tuscany, is meant to taste soft and fresh.  It will begin to lose its freshness within a year and a half.

What is the shelf life of red wine?

Red wines have the most variety in terms of aging potential.  Those that have more balance, complexity, tannins and a deeper color will last longer, becoming smoother over time.

Let’s look at the range of Chianti wines as an example.  A young Chianti wine has fresh, fruit-forward flavors so you should drink it fairly soon after buying it.  On the other hand, some Chianti wines like Chianti Colli Fiorentini, can be good for up to 10 years. That’s because it develops good structure while aging in oak barrels for 12 months.

For an even longer lasting wine, choose a Chianti Riserva, which is aged in oak for at least two years.  This one from Fattoria il Paganello can last for 10 to 15 years.  A wine that’s designed to stand the test of time is the superb Brunello di Montalcino wine. It must be aged for a minimum of 30 months and will probably still be developing in 20 years.

How long does Prosecco last unopened?

A final note on our favourite bubbly, Prosecco. You should drink a Prosecco as young as possible.  If you wait too long, it will lose its fresh flavor and fizz. We like to make our toasts with this elegant Prosecco Spumante Brut from the Perlage winery.

There is so much you can learn about wine.  But the best part is tasting it.  Join us on our most popular Chianti wine tour where we can do both!