Does Non-Alcoholic Wine Expire?


Many wines don’t have an expiration date on the bottles or labels. Similarly, a non-alcoholic wine may not have an expiration or best-by date, which can compel anyone to wonder whether or when the beverage expires. So, does non-alcoholic wine expire, and if so, why, how, and when?

Does non alcoholic wine expire?

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Non-alcoholic wine expires like any other beverage. Most non-alcoholic wines are good for 1 to 2 years if you don’t open the bottles. If you open a bottle, the non-alcoholic wine is likely to expire in 1 to 7 days, depending on its type and how exactly you store it.

This rule applies to all non-alcoholic wines that have been fermented and aged but then dealcoholized. Grape juice and fruity beverages marketed as non-alcoholic wine are different and should have an expiration date. Read on to know how non-alcoholic wine expires. 

How Non-Alcoholic Wine Expires

Let’s first distinguish non-alcoholic wine from grape juice. A fruity beverage doesn’t undergo fermentation, aging, or any other winemaking or vinification process. Thus, there is never any alcohol in producing and processing fruit juices, whether grapes or others.

Technically, non-alcoholic wine undergoes the complete vinification process, and there are a few additional phases. These extra processes dealcoholize the wine, which is why these bottles say “alcohol removed” on the label. 

Here are the popular de-alcoholization processes:

  • Vacuum distillation
  • Reverse osmosis
  • Thin film evaporation

You can read my full article on how non alcoholic wine is made here

Manufacturers of non-alcoholic wine must remove the alcohol but retain the flavors, aromas, and texture of the beverage, which these processes accomplish to varying effects. The removal of alcohol is essentially why a non-alcoholic wine doesn’t have a long shelf life and expires.

Alcohol is an excellent preservative, which is one fundamental reason why many liquors don’t have any expiration dates. Also, vintage or fine wines tend to continue aging in bottles, which is why they don’t have best-by dates. 

None of these elements are at play in a bottle of non-alcoholic wine.

Therefore, non-alcoholic wine expires like other beverages that have a shelf life. But the shelf life of non-alcoholic wine is slightly longer than fruit juices because there is some residual trace of alcohol. 

Let me cite an example to elaborate on this aspect. 

Luminara Chardonnay Alcohol Removed

The Luminara Non-Alcoholic Chardonnay 2018 Wine has the following ingredients:

  • Dealcoholized chardonnay wine
  • Natural fruit juice concentrate
  • Natural flavors
  • Sodium benzoate
  • Potassium metabisulfite
  • Potassium sorbate 
  • Sulfites (preservative)

The natural juice concentrate includes green grapes, apple, lemon cream, and other fruits. 

The preservative sulfites work just as well as they do in other beverages. So, if a typical grape juice expires in 12 months, this Luminara Non-Alcoholic Chardonnay 2018 Wine should have the same shelf life. 

However, this non-alcoholic wine is likely to be good for up to 2 years if unopened, which is due to the 0.5% alcohol trace in the wine after the de-alcoholization process. If you open this bottle, the wine may go bad in 3 to 5 days or sooner, even if you refrigerate it.

The moment you open a wine bottle, air interacts with the beverage, causing oxidation. So, the chemical composition of the wine changes. The same happens to non-alcoholic wine, but this breakdown in non-alcoholic wine happens faster than the alteration in normal fruit juice.

A pack of fruit juice contains a lot more sugar than non-alcoholic wines. Sugar is an inhibitor of microbial growth and activity as it retains and absorbs moisture, so even if some fruit juices are good after 4 or 5 days of opening, non-alcoholic wine is unlikely to be desirable by then.  

Does Non-Alcoholic Champagne or Sparkling Wine Expire?

Non-alcoholic champagne or sparkling wine expires in 1 to 2 years if you don’t open the bottle and store it properly. An open bottle of non-alcoholic champagne or sparkling wine is likely to expire in 1 to 2 days, which is typically sooner than the whites and reds.

The Tentative Shelf Life of Generic Non-Alcoholic Wine

You are perhaps aware or must have heard about the long shelf life of fine wines. If I have a gran reserva or vintage wine that has been aged for 5 years, I’ll comfortably drink it in a decade or longer, provided I have stored it in a cool, dry, and dark place.

However, I won’t keep a Crianza bottle longer than a year. 

If I have a bottle of generic wine, I’ll drink it as soon as I can, probably the same day I buy it or that weekend. Generic wines aren’t aged, and these variants don’t get better with time. 

If I’m unsure about the quality of a cabernet from Napa that’s been lying around for a long time, I’d refer to a vintage chart like this one to figure out the harvest quality for the year that’s printed on the bottle. 

Accordingly, I’ll drink it or keep it for later.

None of these attributes and factors I’ve just mentioned are applicable to non-alcoholic wine. Most non-alcoholic wines are generic. There’s no aging requirement, so the beverage is only going to get worse in time. There’s no gradual maturing and peaking that I need to wait for. 

In other words, I’ll keep a quality white wine for 2 to 3 years, but I’ll hold onto a bold red for 5 to 10 years. A fine wine can stay in the cellar for decades unless the vintage year indicates that the current date is past its peak maturity. For all non-alcoholic wines, the max I’ll consider is 1 year.

After opening a bottle of non-alcoholic wine, I won’t store it at all, except dessert and port. I may keep a non-alcoholic dessert wine for up to 5 days and a dealcoholized port for a week. I’ll still be cautious, though. 

Conclusion

All non-alcoholic wines expire, and most aren’t any good after 2 years, even in perfect storage conditions. And if you open a bottle of nonalcoholic wine, it is going to expire in a few days, usually less than a week. So, if you open a bottle of non-alcoholic wine, simply drink it all.

philmcclelland

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