We review the use of ascorbic acid in winemaking and the benefits as well as the detrimental outcomes associated with its use. Initial discussion focuses on the antioxidant activity of ascorbic acid. The impact of the wine matrix and wine production practices, especially storage in bottle and oxygen ingress, on its antioxidant efficiency is discussed. The complementary roles of the antioxidant pair, ascorbic acid and sulfur dioxide, are presented. Thereafter, the ability of ascorbic acid to contribute to spoilage processes is covered. This includes both pro‐oxidant and non‐oxidative mechanisms induced by ascorbic acid that may lead to a reduced shelf life of white wine. Based on this review of scientific literature, the conditions most conducive to the beneficial impacts of ascorbic acid in wine are highlighted. Areas where lack of chemical knowledge still exists are identified for future research.