How long does wine last with a screw cap?

Wine sealed with a screw cap can generally last 1-2 years from the bottling date if stored properly. However, some factors like wine variety, alcohol content, storage conditions, and quality of the closure can impact how long it stays fresh.

Quick Summary

  • Most wines with screw caps last 1-2 years from bottling date
  • Higher alcohol wines tend to last longer – up to 3-5 years
  • Sweet whites and rosés have shorter shelf life of 6-12 months
  • Store wine at 55°F with 70% humidity for optimal longevity
  • Older screw caps or lower quality caps may not seal as well
  • Check fill level – wine lasts longer when bottle is full
  • White and rosé wines are best consumed within 2 years of bottling
  • Young, dry reds can last 2-3 years with good storage

How Long Does Unopened Screw Cap Wine Last?

For unopened, sealed bottles, most wines with screw caps can be enjoyed for at least 1-2 years from the bottling date if stored properly. However, there are many factors that determine exactly how long it will stay fresh and tasty:

Wine Variety & Style

The variety and style of wine impacts longevity. For example:

  • Sweet whites and rosés – Due to lower acidity levels, these have the shortest shelf life of just 6-12 months.
  • Dry rosé – 1-2 years maximum.
  • Dry whites – Up to 2 years when stored properly.
  • Light reds – Up to 2-3 years before flavor decline.
  • Full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignons – Can last over 5 years due to high tannin and acidity.

Alcohol Content

Wines with higher alcohol content (13.5-15% ABV) tend to last longer – up to 3-5 years when sealed with a screw cap.

The alcohol acts as a preservative against oxidation and slows down the aging process. Lower alcohol wines (under 13% ABV) have shorter shelf life of 1-2 years.

Storage Temperature & Humidity

Storing wine at the proper temperature and humidity is key for preservation. Ideal conditions are:

  • 55°F temperature
  • 70% relative humidity
  • No direct sunlight or heat exposure

Higher temperatures and light exposure will cause wine to age faster. If stored at room temperature or with temperature fluctuations, the wine may only last 6-12 months before quality declines.

Screw Cap Quality

Higher quality screw caps with better inner liners do a better job protecting wine from oxygen exposure. Lower grade or older caps may let in small amounts of oxygen that shorten shelf life compared to premium screw caps.

Fill Level

Wine in bottles filled to a higher level last longer compared to wine in bottles with more ullage (empty space). Less oxygen exposure helps maintain freshness and fruit flavors.

Does Opened Screw Cap Wine Last Longer than Cork?

Once opened, wine sealed with a screw cap can last 3-5 days longer in the fridge compared to wine sealed with natural cork. The tighter seal prevents more oxygen exposure after opening. With cork, slight amounts of oxygen pass through the porous material and speed up aging.

To maximize how long an opened bottle lasts:

  • Store open bottles refrigerated at 45°F or lower
  • Ensure the screw cap is tightly sealed after each pour
  • Use a wine preserver spray to remove oxygen from the bottle
  • Consider transferring wine to a smaller bottle to minimize oxygen exposure

With proper storage, an opened screw cap bottle can last up to a week in the refrigerator. In comparison, opened cork-sealed wine typically only lasts 3-5 days.

Does Screw Cap Wine Age Well?

Wines sealed with screw caps do age, but more slowly compared to wines sealed with traditional cork closures. Because corks allow miniscule amounts of oxygen in, it accelerates the aging process and maturation of flavor compounds in wines intended for long aging.

With screw caps, the tight seal keeps out oxygen almost completely. This means wines may retain bright fruit flavors longer, but take more time to develop complexity or smoother tannins. Improvements in screw cap technology with oxygen transmission rates similar to high quality cork allow screw cap wines to age well, but require longer cellar aging – at least 5+ years for the full benefits.

Signs Your Screw Cap Wine Has Gone Bad

Here are some signs that your screw cap wine may have gone bad and it’s time to discard it:

  • Vinegary, acetone or nail polish remover aromas
  • Browning, murky color
  • Bittersweet, sherried flavors
  • Loss of fruit, flat or oxidized tastes
  • Visible sediment
  • Push-up or gaps between wine and bottom of cork
  • Leaking around or under the cap

White wines tend to show signs of oxidation faster than most reds. But all wines can go bad once they are past their peak drinking window, even if sealed with a screw cap.

Tips to Make Screw Cap Wine Last Longer

Here are some tips to extend the shelf life and drinkability of your screw cap wines:

  • Check the fill level – Choose bottles filled higher up to minimize oxygen exposure
  • Store at 55°F temperature – Colder storage preserves freshness and delays aging
  • Keep away from light and heat – UV and heat damage wine over time
  • Purchase recent vintages – Younger wines last longer from the bottling date
  • Consume whites and rosés within 2 years – They have shorter shelf lives than most reds
  • Use wine preserver sprays – They remove oxygen from opened bottles to extend life
  • Don’t cellar screw cap wines too long – 5 years max for most styles

Frequently Asked Questions

Does screw cap wine go bad?

Yes, screw cap wine can eventually go bad once it is past its peak drinking window. Properly stored, most keep 1-2 years or longer. But all wines will show decline in quality and flavor over time, even with screw cap closures.

Can old screw cap wine make you sick?

Consuming spoiled, oxidized wine is unlikely to make someone sick directly. However, some studies suggest compounds formed as wines age like ethyl carbamate may be carcinogenic if consumed in large amounts over a long time period. So it’s best not to drink wine that tastes or smells defective.

Why do screw caps sometimes leak wine?

Potential causes of leaking screw caps include a faulty application of the cap, poor quality control, bottling under high pressure, or product mishandling that can warp the cap. Storing wine on its side can also sometimes cause leaks if the cap is not fully tightened.

Do all wines age well with screw caps?

No, most everyday wines produced to be consumed young do not benefit from long aging under screw caps. Only certain high quality, age-worthy wines like Cabernet Sauvignon are suitable for extended cellaring. For other styles, aging potential is limited to 1-3 years.


Screw caps are an effective wine closure that help wine last 1-2 years or longer from the bottling date when stored properly. Exact shelf life depends on the wine style, alcohol level, storage conditions, and closure quality. White, rosé, and lighter reds are shorter lived and best enjoyed young. With proper refrigeration and re-sealing, opened screw cap wines can even last up to a full week. While screw cap wines can age, they require more time to develop complexity than wines sealed with high quality corks.

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