You’re eyeing up that bottle of Italian wine you have in the cupboard.
Frankly, you’d forgotten about it.
For some reason, it got stashed in the back of the cupboard for years. You’ve consumed countless bottles of wines since you bought this one. But now, you’ve finally dug it out and you’re thinking about opening it.
The question you have is…
After all, Italian wine is made using grapes. And as a type of food, grapes have an expiration date. Surely, that must mean that your wine has an expiration date too? What if you open it expecting the glorious aroma of the wine only to get hit with a sour vinegary smell that you weren’t expecting?
Nobody wants that.
So, you need to know if your wine really does have an expiration date or not. And in this article, we’re going to answer that question. But first…
Let’s Get the Obvious Out of the Way
If you’ve already opened your bottle of wine then it will expire fairly quickly. Once oxygen enters the bottle, the oxidation process begins, which rapidly changes the structure and complexion of your wine.
The speed of this process varies depending on the type of Italian wine you have.
For a sparkling wine, you can expect the bubbles to disappear within a day or two of opening. The taste follows soon after, leaving you with a flat wine that loses all of its qualities.
A bottle of white wine can last a little longer, especially if you place it in the fridge. However, you’re still going to notice it losing its qualities, with the wine typically expiring in 3-to-5 days.
The same general length applies to red wines, which also lose their qualities in less than a week once opened.
Now, you can do a few things to lengthen the lifespan of an Italian wine that you’ve already opened. Popping it in the fridge helps to slow the oxidation process done, though it does not stop it entirely. There are also plenty of vacuum pumps and similar sealing devices available, which extract air from the wine and allow it to maintain its qualities for a few more days. But generally speaking, an opened bottle of wine has an expiration date that rarely goes over a week.
But what about that bottle that you haven’t opened yet?
The truth is that the answer varies.
The Factors That Affect a Wine’s Expiration Date
All wines have an expiration date. At some point, the chemical reactions occurring in the wine will lead to it taking on a vinegar-like taste and smell, making the wine unappealing to drinkers. However, there are several factors that affect this expiration date that you need to keep in mind.
Factor No. 1 – The Wine’s Ageing Potential
While all wines expire, some do so faster than others. In fact, there are many wines made with the intention of ageing to help them mature and achieve their full qualities.
You’ll find information about how long you can store a wine on the manufacturer’s website. If you buy the wine from the Xtrawine collection, you’ll also find ageing information on the product’s page. Some wines can only be aged for a couple of years before they lose their qualities. Others can be aged for 10 years or more.
It all depends on the wine.
Generally speaking, you’ll find that you can age red wines for longer than you can age Rosé, sparkling, and white wines. Reds often have an ageing potential of between five and 10 years, with the other wines being ageable up to about three years. Still, these numbers vary depending on the wine, meaning it’s always worth doing some research to see how long you can store the wine for.
Speaking of storage…
Factor No. 2 – The Storage Conditions
How you store the wine has a huge impact on its expiration date.
For example, let’s say you have a bottle of Italian red wine. You leave it out on the counter, where is exposed to the sun’s rays. Light constantly surrounds the bottle and it’s being exposed to heat as well. Plus, the bottle is exposed to humidity and moisture whenever you cook some food or boil water.
That wine will expire long before the same bottle of red wine kept in cool, dark, and dry conditions.
Similarly, a bottle of white wine stored in those countertop conditions will expire far quicker than a bottle that’s kept in the fridge.
By storing your wines properly, you ensure that they maintain their qualities for longer. As a general rule, aim to keep the bottle on its side to prevent the build-up of sediment and to ensure the cork doesn’t dry out with age.
Factor No. 3 – The Printed Expiration Date
Many Italian wines come with printed expiration dates designed to serve as a marker for when you should drink the wine.
However, those dates aren’t always accurate.
They’re printed so that shops and markets can stick to legal guidelines related to providing expiry information on their products. Generally speaking, you can often keep an Italian white wine in storage for a year or so after its printed expiration. Bump that up to between 3 and 5 years past the printed date for reds. Fine wines can often be stored for over 10 years past their printed expiration dates.
Expiration is an Issue
However, it’s not as big of an issue as you may believe it to be. As long as you’re storing your wine correctly, you can usually expect it to still maintain its qualities if it’s a couple of years old, assuming you bought the vintage when it was first released. If you bought it a couple of years after it was released, you need to account for that extra time when you open the bottle.
The exact expiration date depends on storage, the type of wine you’re drinking, and several other factors. Thankfully, many producers tell you how long you can age their wines before they lose everything that makes them so special. Just remember that you can’t keep wine forever.
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