What's the shelf life of a box of wine?

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

What's the shelf life of a box of wine?

—P.M., San Antonio, Texas

Dear P.M.,

Good question, as there definitely is a shelf-life for boxed wines. There is a bag inside the box that holds the wine, and it cleverly collapses as wine is consumed, limiting the wine’s exposure to oxygen. That means that once you open the seal and start pouring the wine, you should be able to enjoy it for at least a few more weeks (as opposed to a few days with an open bottle) before you notice that the wine is fading. In both cases, storing an open container of wine in a fridge will extend its life.

That bag is typically made of polyethlene, which is a very safe plastic to use, but it’s not as impermeable as glass, and over time, the microscopic amounts of oxygen passing through will cause the wine to lose its freshness. If you look at the box, somewhere on it (perhaps on the bottom) will be a best-by date, usually about a year from the date it was packaged.

Given all of this, the wines inside the box aren’t meant for long-term aging. But there are some terrific wines in boxes. When we review boxed wines, we review them in blind tastings alongside their bottled peers, and we find plenty of wines to recommend.

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny storage boxes-cartons packaging

More In Dr. Vinny

Once chilled, must a wine stay chilled? Is it ruined if it warms up again?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny debunks the myth that wine shouldn't be chilled and then …

Jun 27, 2022

Does Pinot Noir come in both red and white versions? Are they the same grape?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how red wines get their color. (Hint: It's not …

Jun 22, 2022

If you're supposed to hold a wineglass by the stem, why are stemless glasses so popular?

Wine Spectator's resident wine expert Dr. Vinny explains the pros and cons of stemless …

Jun 13, 2022

How much do our taste buds influence our perception of wine?

Wine Spectator's resident wine expert Dr. Vinny explains how taste sensitivity impacts our …

Jun 6, 2022

Should I refill my own wineglass, or ask the host or server to?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the etiquette or wine service, for hosts and for …

May 23, 2022

What’s the best way to remove the cork from an imperial (a 6-liter bottle of wine)?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains best practices for opening—and serving—large-for…

May 16, 2022