All wines, opened or unopened— whether the highest-quality sherry to the lowest-priced wine available in cardboard boxes — will over time deteriorate.
The only question that now begs an answer is: how long will your bottle of wine last when unopened and does storage have anything do with it? How can you ensure your wine stays drinkable and retains its flavor?
What Conditions Affect Wine Storage?
Lovers of wine must ensure that they are providing the perfect storage conditions that allow the wines to grow their best flavor. Below we have reviewed some of the major factors that affect wine storage.
Temperature: The perfect wine storage conditions exist in a specifically designed wine cellar. This should be a dark, cool place with a constant temperature of between 50 and 55°F (about 13°C).
Humidity: The best humidity level is 70%. When the humidity is inappropriate, the corks can crack/dry out allowing more air to flow inside the wine bottle. Wines will also get contaminated if unrelated smells seep through the cork, especially if the place is too humid with pungent odors.
Darkness: Tannins get oxidized when they are reached by UV rays causing damage to the wine. Even when the wine is in dark colored bottles, that doesn’t provide much protection from the UV rays. Therefore, wine should be stored in a dark place and if any light is required, only use sodium vapor or incandescent lamps rather than fluorescent lighting.
Vibration: Ensure that the storage venue is not subjected to incessant vibration from heavy traffic or other machinery. Such vibrations disturb the wine symmetry and common growth.
Bottle Positioning: The wine should always be kept in contact with the cork. For that, the bottle should be placed in a horizontal position in your storage unit. The wine develops sediment deposits on the bottom when placed vertically.
Does The Type Of Wine Matter?
When you hear the phrase “aging like a fine wine”, it generally refers to rich, red wines — we are talking about Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot — wines that are designed to become mellow over the passage of time. For example, a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon will keep for between 7 and 10 years.
Specifically, let’s look at different types of wines:
Your red wine will last for many years when unopened. At times, red wine and other expensive brands will even get better with the passage of time. Because of a process is known as “aging wine”, it develops to its full flavor and aroma.
With its tannins, Cabernet Sauvignon is among the best-aging red wines available, keeping for up to 10 years. Zinfandel red wine can last for between 2 and 5 years unopened. Pinot Noir should not be kept for more than5 years.
Quality white wine will be good for 3 years and up but this will depend on vintage. Typically, aging is a red wine’s game as the majority of whites lack the tannins needed to keep them for over 18 months.
Sauvignon Blanc should be consumed within 18 months and at most 2 years. Some do much better. Chardonnay white wine, for instance, can last between 2 and 3 years while the better ones might keep for up to 5-7 years.
Eventually, unopened Champagne goes bad even when kept in a cool/dry place or in the refrigerator.
However, that takes several years before it happens. Compared to Vintage Champagne, Non-Vintage Champagnes expires a little faster, after around 3-4 years. You will generally have between 5 and 10 years before your Vintage Champagnes it starts losing its fizz.
Having noted that, it’s also true that so long as they are stored in a dry and cool place, some Vintage Champagnes do much better with age. You can actually have some of them for as long as 20 years and they develop a more complex aroma and flavor profile.
Unopened Fine Wine lasts for will lasts for decades when stored in a wine cellar and if you prefer Wine Juice Boxes, they can last for around 12 months.
How to Best Store Your Wine
Whether you purchase your bottle of wine a couple of weeks in advance or on the same day it’s going to be consumed, there’s a right and wrong way of storing it.
For example, storing the wine on top of the fridge, next to your dishwasher, or under the stove are some of the worst possible places to keep the wine as it will get heated whenever you turn on these appliances.
- Locate a cool, dark area for your wine rack. Although a basement location is most ideal, a closet, kitchen or cabinet cupboard will also do, so as long as it’s not in the line of direct sunlight, and not near any source of heat.
- Corked wine should always be kept horizontal until opened. This keeps the cork moist, keeping it from drying out and crumbling which preserves the seal. This prevents air from possibly seeping in as that could ruin your wine.
- Keep the wine storage area clean and calm. Excessive grime and dust could seep through. Jostling the bottle agitates the wine sediments and disturbs the symmetry.
Generally, if your wine cost less than $30, you should ideally drink it within 12 months and at most two years from the date of purchase! It’s not that such wines are bad by any means, it’s just that they are not generally the type that mellow with age.
Even though wine has been made to last much longer than grape juice, it certainly will eventually still break down. To ensure that your unopened bottle of wine not only lasts long but still taste amazing, you’ll need to carefully monitor your storage conditions.