How long can a finished homemade wine be stored or aged before going bad?
There is nothing unique to homemade wine that makes it spoil or go bad any faster or keep any better than commercially made wines. As long as the homemade wine is treated properly, it will keep just as long and as good as wines you purchase at the store. So when you ask, how long does homemade wine last?, the simple answer is, just as long as any other wine!
But what does treated properly actually mean?
- It means your wine must be dosed with sulfites, and
- Your wine bottles must be sanitized before using
Treating Your Wine With Sulfites
This is very simple do and is very beneficial to the keeping qualities of the wine. If the wine is being made from fresh grapes or other fresh fruits, just add a standard dose of potassium metabisulfite or Campden tablets 24 hour before adding the yeast. If you are making wine from a wine concentrate this process can be skipped.
Another dose of potassium metabisulfite or Campden tablets should be added to the wine right before bottling. This dose before bottling goes for any wine – regardless if it’s made from fresh fruit or grape concentrate. There may be other times that sulfite should be added, depending on how many times the wine is being siphoned or how long it’s being bulk aged. You can find more information on this in the blog post: Using Campden tablets: The How, When And Why.
By performing these simple steps your homemade wine will stay fresher much longer and will degrade in quality much slower. And, you will have have virtually eliminated the chance of your homemade wine experiencing out-right spoilage.
Sanitizing Your Wine Bottles
This is the second part of the equation. How long does a homemade wine last? It depends on how well the wine bottles were sanitized. Fortunately, it’s a simple process.
All you have to do is clean the wine bottles as you normally would anyway. Use some dish soap and a wine bottle brush. If the wine bottles are brand new, you can skip this part. Then use a cleaners such as Basic A on the wine bottles to sanitize them. Both of these products come with complete directions on their usage. Once the wine bottles are mostly dry, they are ready to be filled with wine.
The wine bottle can be cleaned ahead of time, but the sanitation part should only be done when you are actually ready to bottle.
It’s important to understand that these are the same critical steps that any winery would take. It’s what keeps all those bottles of wine consistently fresh on the store shelves, and that’s why your homemade wine can last just as long as any commercially made wine – stay fresh and free from going bad.
Follow these procedures. Make them habits. And you’ll never have a problem with any of your wines keeping while in storage.
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.