Making wine at home can be a rewarding experience – and with the quality of available wine kits at an all-time high, there’s never been a better time to get into the hobby.
But maybe you’re worried about investing a significant amount of time and money in a kit, only to wind up with wine that has spoiled. Do alcoholic beverages like wine have an expiration date?
Do wine kits expire?
Wine kits don’t expire, but the quality of the ingredients may decrease over time. Wines created from a kit don’t have a shelf life per se, they have a quality threshold. Think of the expiration date as an indication of when the wine will be at its best, not a point in time when it will become undrinkable.
As long as your kit has been stored properly, you can make wine when it’s most convenient for you. Once your wine is in bottles, we recommend storing it at a constant temperature in a wine fridge.
What Effect Does Oxidation Have on Wine?
Now that we’ve talked about expiration dates on wine kits, is there anything else you should keep in mind when you’re making wine?
You need to be aware of oxidation.
The taste of your wine may change over time due to oxidation. This happens when a wine is exposed to air, triggering a chemical reaction that can affect its flavor. Ethanol (alcohol) in the wine is converted to acetaldehyde which can make it taste grassy or nutty.
Oxidation isn’t always bad. Sometimes it’s used deliberately to enhance the flavor of a wine.
As a matter of fact, most wines encountered some form of oxidation while it’s being made. Some kits may even provide instructions on how to properly oxidize your wine. For most of us, however, it’s probably best to stick to the basics and prevent oxidation to the extent that we can.
What Is the Proper Way to Store Wine?
To maximize the shelf life of your wine, you need to follow all of the instructions in the kit, prevent (or control) oxidation, and bottle it in a clean environment. After all of that, your wine needs to be stored correctly.
Wine should be stored away from direct sunlight in a cool room. If you have a wine fridge, that’s even better. The temperature in your wine fridge should be 50 – 60˚F (10 – 15˚C) with the humidity set to 60 – 68%.
Bottom line? When it comes to storing wine, it’s best to keep it cool!
Is It Better to Store Wine on Its Side?
Bottles of wine are often displayed standing upright in the store. Is that the best way to store them at home?
If the wine bottle has a cork, it should be stored on its side. Storing the bottle horizontally means the wine is in constant contact with the cork, ensuring that it doesn’t dry out and the bottle has a good seal.
With proper storage a bottle of wine, or an unopened wine kit, can last for years.
Here’s the bottom line. Wine made from a kit doesn’t go bad any quicker than wine you buy at the store, if it’s stored properly.
You still need to use your own judgement when deciding whether the ingredients in a wine kit are OK to use. If anything doesn’t look or smell right, toss it. Better safe than sorry!