What’s The Shelf Life Of White Wine? A Beginner’s Guide

Good fortune is something that may not happen to many of us often, but when it does we certainly like to rejoice! Perhaps you’ve got a little bit more money to play with this month than you thought.

Pretty great, huh? Maybe you decide to buy a nice bottle of wine with that money to relax on a Friday night. After all, white wine will last for a long time anyway, so it’s worth it right?

What’s the Shelf Life Of White Wine A Beginner’s Guide

Well, one thing that you may not know is that it is possible for wine to expire.

With that being said, wine is supposed to stand the test of time since the sugar content is so low that bacteria generally aren’t as interested in the beverage.

Not only that, but alcohol isn’t good for bacteria either – as you probably know based on the fact that alcohol is often used as a sterilizing agent.

Thanks to both of these things, bacteria isn’t going to have an easy time eating away at your Friday night beverage.

Naturally, there are a few things that can determine how long your bottle of wine is going to last, such as the kind of wine and the way that you have chosen to store it.

Unfortunately, you won’t get as much time out of a bottle of white wine as you would with different types of wine, such as red wines. These wines will generally last for about 2-3 years after the best before end on the bottle, if the bottle hasn’t been opened.

This is a pretty poor lifespan in comparison to other wines that can last many years after the wine has been made. As such, you need to be especially careful with white wine.

How To Store White Wine

The shelf life of your wine is largely going to depend on how you store it. There are a couple of things that can influence how long it can last, so read on to get the best life out of your white wine.

Dry And Cool Storage Conditions

It’s very important that your wine is kept in conditions that are cool and dry. This is a big part of the reason why most people will keep their wine in cellars positioned beneath the ground. 

In the ground, the temperature generally tends to remain the same which is good for the wine. If you put the wine bottle in conditions that are too hot, the wine can end up deteriorating.

As such, ensure that you put your wine in a location that’s cool enough for it to thrive. Of course, not all of us have the money for a cellar or a basement for our wines.

That’s okay too! In these situations, a wine chiller can be a tremendous asset if you want to keep your wine for a couple of years. You can use your refrigerator too but it may be a little too cold when you take it out, so warm it up a little first before you drink it.

Beautiful Wine Cellar
A wine cellar is an excellent way to store your white wines. We obviously all don’t have the room or money for a wine cellar, so a wine chiller is a cheaper option that will do the job. You want to make sure your white wine is not exposed to changing temperatures. This will ensure the longest possible shelf life.

Dark Locations

The temperature isn’t the only important thing to consider when it comes to your wine. You also need to think about the lighting conditions. If the wine isn’t kept in a dark enough environment, the wine can start to degrade in quality.

This is yet another reason that underground cellars are so common for storing wine because there isn’t a lot of light in these locations. In addition to that, if you were ever wondering why wine tends to be kept in dark bottles now you know why!

If the wine is kept in a box it generally tends to last for a longer duration of time since the box is dark and doesn’t let light in. As such, you need to be careful when you are figuring out the best way to store the wine.

Dark wine cellar and bar
Storing your white wine in a dark environment will prolong its shelf life. Exposure to excessive light will degrade your wine. That is why a lot of wines come in a dark bottle.

Correct Humidity

It’s important to consider whether your wine is being stored at the correct humidity levels. The problem is that if you are storing the wine in a location where the air is dry, it can cause the cork in the bottle to dry too.

This is not great because it means that bacteria and air can get inside of the bottle which can cause the wine inside to degrade. You may not know this, but a lot of wine bottles are stored in a sideways position for exactly this reason. 

If the bottle is positioned sideways then it helps to keep the cork damp because of the fluids that are inside, which stops things from getting into the bottle. You can then get something like a cork holder when you’re done with the corks too, just so that they don’t go to waste! 

How Long Can A Bottle Of White Wine Last When It Hasn’t Been Opened?

It’s hard to say for certain since it can depend on so many different factors, such as the type of wine and the storage conditions.

With that being said, it will usually last for around 2 to 3 years after the expiration date when unopened.

However, champagne can last for much longer.

There are a few things that you can do to work out whether it’s okay to drink the wine if you aren’t sure when you bought it.

Look at the expiry date

If you have bought wine from a commercial setting, it should have an expiry date on the label. You will be fine drinking wine that’s been out for a couple of years after the expiry date but it’s certainly not going to taste as nice as it would when it was fresh.

The Vintage Year

If the bottle doesn’t feature an expiry date, you might be able to figure out when the grapes were harvested. Look on the label for this information, and it should help you to work out when the wine is likely to expire.

Kind of Wine

We’ve already mentioned this before, but it’s worth pointing out again that a fine wine is likely to last far longer than any white wine will. There are also different kinds of white wines that will last variable lengths of time, so it’s not a one size fits all kind of scenario.

It can often be difficult to work out exactly how long a specific bottle of wine is going to live. There are some things to keep in mind though. First, a sparkling wine isn’t going to last for a very long time.

If it’s a full bodied white wine then you may expect it to last a little bit longer. Finally, light bodied white wines will last the longest duration of time of all.

Related: Shelf life for Prosecco.

Test It

Now that you’ve followed the above steps, you still need to test it. Even the above information can’t tell you the exact state of a specific bottle of wine so it’s a good idea to test it first. Is it time to throw it out?

Only testing it will tell you. We’ve got a few tips to help you to taste test the wine in the correct way.

Proper Taste Testing For White Wine

You can have a better idea of whether it’s okay to drink a bottle of wine by taste testing it before you drink the whole bottle. This should be done in the following way.


Before you try tasting it, first look at the wine. Has the color changed? If it’s starting to look murky or mud stained, or if it has changed to a yellow sort of color then it means that the wine is no longer suitable for consumption.

Likewise, check that there aren’t a bunch of bubbles in the bottle as it can be a sign that it’s not okay to drink it.


Smell the wine – is it starting to smell acidic like vinegar? If it is then it may mean that it’s time to throw it out. It probably won’t taste very good even if you do try it!

How Long Does White Wine Last Once Opened

When you open your bottle of wine, it’s important that you drink it fairly quickly. This means that it generally isn’t a good idea to store it for one more day – try to consume it on the day that you open it.

It will break down much faster since the wine has been exposed to air. It can sometimes be kept for a couple of days but the quality will often deteriorate quickly.

As a quick reference guide, it’s good to note that 1-3 days is the lifespan of sparkling wine once it is opened. A full bodied wine will survive 3-5 days, and a light bodied wine will survive for 5-7 days.

If you are planning on keeping the bottle for a little bit longer, make sure that you tightly re-cork it so the air doesn’t get to it. Ideally a bottle with a screw on top will be best.

Likewise, make sure that you put it in the correct storage conditions so that it lasts for longer. You should try to avoid getting any excess air or bacteria into the bottle, as this means that it won’t last for as long.

Emma Miller