Does Wine Expire?

wine-expire Credit: O'Gara/Bissell/StockFood Creative/Getty Images

Wine does not expire, but many varieties lose their sophistication and nuanced flavor profile when stored beyond the recommended maturation time. Cheap wines mature quickly and do not require cellaring, but fine wines take many years to reach their peak. Proper storage conditions are essential for all bottles of wine.

The conditions in and layout of a wine cellar are both essential to effective wine storage. The ideal cellar is cool, dark and neither very humid nor very dry. The wine bottles should always be kept in horizontal positions because this keeps the corks moist. Dry corks shrink, allowing air, bacteria and dirt to enter the bottles and ruin their contents.

Temperature is another critical factor. Wines stored in hot cellars quickly develop unpleasant flavors. However, as long as the corks remain in place, the wine is safe to drink, albeit unpalatable. Opened wine quickly loses its appeal. To preserve it as much as possible, the opened bottle should be sealed with a vacuum-pump cap, stored upright in the refrigerator and consumed within 48 hours. Wines not finished within that time frame are no longer fit for drinking. However, they make excellent additions to sauces, marinades and other dishes that call for small amounts of wine.