How To Tell If Wine Is Bad Without Opening? (Question)

To tell if the wine has gone bad without opening the bottle, you should take notice if the cork is slightly pushed out. This is a sign that the wine has been exposed to too much heat and it can cause the foil seal to bulge. You can also notice if the cork is discolored or smells like mold, or if wine is dripping out.

How to tell if wine has gone bad?

  • With testing, we could be confident whether the wine can be consumed or not. The testing has to be done in the sequence as given below. Visual testing: Check the wine for a change in color. If white wine has gone bad, it’ll turn to a murky color, yellowish-brown/ color of straw. If the color is changed, throw the wine out.


How long can you keep wine without opening?

3–5 days in a cool dark place with a cork The more tannin and acidity the red wine has, the longer it tends to last after opening. So, a light red with very little tannin, such as Pinot Noir, won’t last open as long as a rich red like Petite Sirah.

Can wine go bad before opening?

The answer to the main question is positive – wine can go bad. If it’s stored improperly, it can go bad even when it’s unopened. Once it’s opened, it should be used within a couple of days, otherwise, it’ll go bad as well.

What are the symptoms of drinking bad wine?

Signs that wine has gone bad

  • Changes in color. The first thing that a person can observe is the color of the wine.
  • Changes in smell. A person may be able to smell certain aromas if wine has gone bad.
  • Changes in taste. A person should not drink wine that has gone bad.
  • Unwanted bubbles in the wine.
  • Loose cork or leakage.

How long is barefoot wine good for unopened?

Does Barefoot Wine Expire? We recommend enjoying Barefoot wine while it’s young and within 18 months – 2 years of purchasing.

Does unopened wine go bad?

Though unopened wine has a longer shelf life than opened wine, it can go bad. Unopened wine can be consumed past its printed expiration date if it smells and tastes OK. It’s important to remember that the shelf life of unopened wine depends on the type of wine, as well as how well it’s stored.

Can you drink opened wine after 2 weeks?

Drinking an already-opened bottle of wine will not make you sick. You can usually leave it for at least a few days before the wine starts to taste different. Pouring yourself a glass from a bottle that’s been open for longer than a week may leave you with an unpleasant taste in your mouth.

Does unopened wine go bad in the fridge?

An unopened bottle of wine shouldn’t be refrigerated for a long period. Chilling the alcohol in the fridge before serving is fine. If you expect to store the wine for a prolonged period, like more than a year or two, remember to keep the bottles lying on their side. This way the cork stays moist and doesn’t dry out.

Where is the expiration date on wine?

If you take a close look at a boxed wine, you’ll most likely see a “best-by” date, probably stamped on the bottom or side of the box. This expiration date is typically within a year or so from the time the wine was packaged.

CAN expired wine make you sick?

Will drinking old wine make you sick? Drinking old wine will not make you sick, but it will likely start to taste off or flat after five to seven days, so you won’t get to enjoy the wine’s optimal flavors. Longer than that and it’ll start to taste unpleasant.

At what temperature does wine spoil?

But wine is best stored between 53–57˚F when intended for aging, and temperatures can range from the mid-40s to mid-60s for service, depending on the wine. Once you creep past 70˚F, wine falls into the danger zone, and is in peril of irreparable damage.

Does spoiled wine still have alcohol?

During fermentation, the sugar in the grapes is converted into alcohol. Once the wine is bottled, the alcohol content doesn’t change any further. In fact, wine that’s just sitting there evaporating would probably turn into vinegar before it would become alcohol-free.

How long does screw top wine last unopened?

When sealed with a screw cap, cork or stopper and stored in the fridge, three days is the use-by for a Rosé or full-bodied white like Chardonnay, Fiano, Roussanne, Viognier and Verdelho.

What can you do with old unopened wine?

7 Great Uses for Wine That’s Gone Bad

  1. Marinade. Of all the uses for a red on its way to dead, the most common is as a marinade.
  2. Fabric Dye. Usually, getting red wine all over a table cloth is the problem, not the goal.
  3. Fruit Fly Trap.
  4. Vinegar.
  5. Jelly.
  6. Red Wine Reduction.
  7. Disinfectant.

How long is wine good in the bottle?

If you were responsible enough to remember these precautions before you hit the hay, a bottle of red or white wine can last approximately between two and five days.

The Best Way To Tell If Your Wine Has Gone Bad

Shutterstock The feeling of preparing to unwind with a glass of wine at the end of a hard day is nothing short of horrific. You grab that bottle of Syrah off the shelf or that half-finished bottle of Pinot Grigio out of the fridge only to be greeted with the sinking hunch that something isn’t quite right. There is something off about the fragrance — or a sip that doesn’t taste very promising — but you can’t put your finger on it. After all, wine is simply fermented grapes, and it can be difficult to know whether a bottle of wine has gone bad or when you simply haven’t developed the proper taste to discern the difference.

This guide will show you how to determine whether or not a bottle of wine is still drinkable and whether or not it has gone bad.

How to tell if wine is bad without opening the bottle

Shutterstock In certain cases, wine will spoil even if it hasn’t been exposed to any air. The Wine Folly website states that temperature variations during shipment or storage, the introduction of germs or bacteria during the production process, and even exposure to too much ultraviolet light can cause wine to go sour. These are referred to as “wine defects,” and you may identify them before you even open the bottle of wine. Look for corks that are slightly pushed out, which indicates that the wine has been subjected to excessive heat (this is referred to as’skunked’ by non-sommeliers), to determine if a bottle of wine is rotten even before it has been opened.

In addition to a discolored cork, a cork that smells like wet dog or mildew, and wine that is already leaking out, there are several more indicators of rotten wine: These are indications of bacterial or microbial proliferation in the environment.

How to tell if an open bottle of wine has gone bad

Because most bottles of wine go bad due to oxidation, according to Wine Folly, determining whether or not an open bottle of wine has difficulties will be considerably easier in the future. The flavor of wine begins to deteriorate as soon as it is exposed to air. If you let it sit for too long, the final consequence will be terrible wine. You should check for wine that is hazy or discolored, wine that has bubbles (but is not a sparkling wine), and scents that are sickly-sweet, musty, or vinegar-like, according to Popsugar.

You can prevent your wine from going bad by storing it correctly, and in many situations, you may even be able to return a bottle to the store.

How Do I Check for Signs That Wine Has Gone Bad in Storage?

A good cork will have a small discoloration from the wine, but a ruined wine would have a crumbling, soaked-through cork, among other symptoms. Photo courtesy of Couleur, a Pixabay Creative Commons user. Experiencing the unmistakable scents of a wine that has gone bad, which are sometimes evocative of moldy wet newspaper and acetone, is the last thing anyone wants to do when they open a bottle of excellent wine, especially when it is a bottle of great wine. However, there are situations when you may detect the telltale indicators that wine has gone bad in storage before you even open the bottle.

It may also alert you to possible storage difficulties, allowing you to rectify any issues before they cause damage to the other bottles in your collection, saving you time and money.

To put it another way, understanding the indicators of a poor bottle of wine will spare you from swallowing a piece of wet newspaper when you were anticipating a beautiful Bordeaux. Here’s how to tell if a bottle of wine is rotten before you open it or after you’ve opened it.

The First Signs That Wine Has Gone Bad in Storage

Many types of wine faults exist, such as excessive sulfur or Breettanomyces yeast (Brett), but what most wine drinkers mean when they say that a wine has gone bad is that it has been corked, which usually means that the wine has been contaminated with the chemical 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA), which is a fungicide (although other compounds can also cause this problem). When you smell a corked wine in a glass or take your first sip, it’s easy to tell whether it’s been corked. Corked wine, in addition to smelling like wet newspaper, has been described as smelling like wet dog or musty old books by some.

  1. An uncorked wine might occasionally taste exactly like it smells, but it can also taste highly astringent if the cork is broken.
  2. However, these are not the first indications that a bottle of wine has gone bad while in storage.
  3. Step 1: Take a look at where the cork is located.
  4. As long as it’s bulging slightly from the top of the bottle, it’s a warning that the wine has been subjected to heat damage, which means that its tastes will be less delicious and delicate than they should be.
  5. While this is most usually a problem for winemakers who employ low-cost or synthetic corks, it can occur with even the most costly wines in the world on occasion.
  6. In the first instance, the wine will most certainly be prematurely oxidized; too much oxygen will escape into the bottle at an inordinately rapid rate, causing the wine to age and degrade in a very short period of time.
  7. With the strong closure, the wine does not receive enough air, which prevents it from gently maturing and producing new tastes as it should.
  8. Examine the wine’s ullage to determine its quality.
  9. When a young wine is opened, the liquid will appear to be almost touching the cork, and in general, the higher the ullage, the better the condition in which the wine will be when it is first opened.
  10. Tips to Keep in Mind Before Making a Purchase Whenever you purchase wine on the secondary market, make sure to follow the two processes outlined above (or even directly from a producer).
  11. In certain cases, this can prevent you from purchasing a bottle of wine that has either deteriorated early or won’t develop correctly.

The wine may still be drinkable due to a faulty cork placement, and you don’t want to waste a perfectly nice bottle of wine by making the error of throwing it out by mistake.

Trust Your Senses of Sight, Smell, and Taste

Just though the cork and ullage appear to be in good condition does not always imply that the wine is in good condition. It’s possible that the wine has a fault that is difficult to detect simply by glancing at the bottle. After you’ve opened the bottle and before you take your first taste, make sure to follow these four procedures. Step 1: Inspect the cork’s base for damage. When you take the cork out of the bottle, look at the base of the cork (the area that comes into contact with the wine); it should only be faintly discolored by the liquid.

  1. Soggy corks are ones that have not been well sealed to the bottle, enabling liquid to seep up around the edges of the cork.
  2. Keep in mind, however, that certain older bottles of wine, particularly fortified wines like port, may have naturally crumbly corks due to the aging process.
  3. It’s conceivable that the wine within is absolutely wonderful.
  4. As an example, depending on the winemaker, the vintage, and the region where the wine was produced, Cabernet Sauvignon can range in color from a vibrant crimson to an inky purple.
  5. The presence of brown coloring in both red and white wines of all kinds indicates oxidation.
  6. It is generally accepted that wine that has been in the bottle for little more than few years should not seem tawny or brown in any way, but that wine that has been in the bottle for several decades should exhibit this coloring as a positive indicator.
  7. In mixes from the Côtes du Rhône region, for example, it’s not unusual to detect a little nasty barnyard aroma.
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The fungus, Brettanomyces, is responsible for the occurrence, and at low to moderate levels, it is entirely normal—even desirable—in these wines.

Another red flag is the presence of a cooked fruit aroma in a very young wine.

The Fourth Step is to Taste the Wine However, even if you make it through this stage and your wine still seems and smells normal, you aren’t out of the woods by any means.

Any wine that tastes bland, or that has a strong vinegar or chemical taste, has gone bad while it was being stored.

Other red flags are less evident and unpleasant, but they are just as dangerous and should be addressed.

Even though still wines are supposed to be devoid of carbonation, the presence of carbonation indicates that the wine has undergone a secondary fermentation in the bottle.

It’s not the most pleasant experience to take a sip of corked wine or wine that has some other major fault, but it’s doubtful that it will cause any harm. If your taste senses can handle it, you can drink wine that has gone bad in storage without risk of poisoning yourself.

What to Do With Wine That Has Gone Bad

Because wine spoilage may be caused by a variety of factors, including improper wine storage conditions such as excessive heat or moisture, some wine collectors get concerned when they discover a corked bottle in their home cellar. You shouldn’t be alarmed if you notice symptoms that your wine has gone bad while it’s been sitting in your cellar. First and foremost, be certain that your storage conditions are constant and sufficient. It is a good idea to invest in expert wine storage services in order to avoid wine spoiling that may be due to storage problems.

  1. Some bottles contain leaking corks or have been broken during shipping.
  2. If you’ve purchased a case of wine from the same vintage and producer and one of the bottles has soured, you should carefully inspect the other bottles to ensure that the problem is not affecting them all.
  3. If you keep your wine properly and purchase from a reputable vendor that thoroughly inspects bottles before selling them, you will have many more opportunities to enjoy magnificent wines in the future.
  4. Contact us right now if you want to have access to some of the world’s greatest wines.


If you are a wine lover, it is a true pleasure to sip an old-fashioned glass of Pinot Noir to tie a whole dinner together or to celebrate with friends and family on a special occasion. Anything is generally said that, “The older it gets, the better it grows.” This is certainly true. Unfortunately for us, whether it’s a bottle of 2012 Sine Qua Non Pearl Clutcher Chardonnay or a six-pack of red wine purchased from the local liquor shop, wine can go bad at any point in time. And, along with the wine, our money is flushed down the toilet.

  • 1.
  • It is possible that oxidation has caused the hue to seem dull, faded, or to be completely different than before.
  • Although it should be remembered that a classic aged wine will have a natural brown hue to it, younger wines are significantly more prone to an obvious shift in color when exposed to oxygen.
  • If it wasn’t intended to be fizzy, it shouldn’t be fizzy in the first place.
  • The following are indicators of a poor bottle of wine: A pungent smell, such as that of rotten eggs, is one example.
  • A vinegar-like odor is present.
  • The fragrance of nail polish remover or paint thinner, for example.

The scent of damp gym clothing, wet cardboard, or the stench of a basement 5.

It goes without saying that if anything does not taste absolutely fantastic, it is not worth drinking.

The majority of wines are intended to be sweet and crisp.

A red wine that is not intended to be sweet or a dessert wine that has an overtly sweet taste, such as that of Port, indicates that the wine has spoiled.

If the wine has completely lost its flavor, there is still another telltale indicator that it has gone bad.

Wine bottles should be stored carefully and used soon once they have been opened to get the most use out of them. Also, keep in mind how long they may survive (it varies depending on the type of wine, though some can last for decades). Written by: Annie Wesley Contact:[email protected]

Aged Wine – How to Evaluate Condition Without Opening It

Properly aged wine may be fantastic—complex, subtle, and supple on the palate—and it is well worth the investment. What is the best way to determine whether or not a wine has been appropriately matured, or whether or not it should be eaten immediately, without opening the bottle? Being able to do so is really useful in your own cellar. When purchasing an old wine from a reseller or fellow collector, it is critical to do your research. Before opening a bottle, it is impossible to be 100 percent certain of what is within.

Check the Ullage

In an upright bottle, the ullage is the space between the surface of the wine and the bottom of the cork, which is measured in milliliters. In most cases, when a wine is originally released, there is no evidence of ullage. The capsule fills in any gaps that may exist. The quantity of ullage in a bottle will rise as the bottle matures. The wine evaporates as a result of the closure. Under ideal circumstances, this occurs gradually over time. Even so, ullage may become highly visible after 20 or more years of use.

  1. A 1978 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve that I opened in 2011 is the bottle on the right of the photo.
  2. This shows that the storage conditions are favorable.
  3. There are three primary reasons why this happens.
  4. When a bottle of wine is exposed to high temperatures, such as in the trunk of a vehicle, it can expand and seep out around the cork.
  5. Excessive ullage might indicate that the wine is not of high quality.
  6. It might also be oxidized, cooked, or a combination of the two.
  7. Premature ullage in a wine that you are considering purchasing is a red flag that you should avoid purchasing.

Consider the Age, Variety, Region, Producer

There are certain wines that are not good for maturing. The majority of them are not. Is the wine made from a varietal that has the potential to develop with age, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, for example? Or is it a kind that is best when it is young and fresh, like as Moscato, that you’re looking for? What is the age of the wine? Here’s a link to my guide regarding aging potential according to variety. If the variety or blend is one that has the potential to be good at its current age, the next step is to assess the location, the producer, and the overall quality level.

Many wine areas and producers are well-known for the ability of their wines to age well. However, even the most prestigious winemakers from the most prestigious areas create wines that are designed for immediate consumption.

Consider the Vintage

The ability of high-quality red wines from locations such as Bordeaux and Barolo to age gracefully is generally assumed. However, not every vintage delivers wines that are capable of achieving a region’s utmost potential. Cold or wet vintages may result in wines that don’t have enough concentrated fruit to survive for a long period of time. Years that are very warm might result in wines that are too low in acid. Some producers, whose clients are concerned about aging, provide suggested drinking windows for certain wines and vintages on their websites.

Some publications’ websites also include less detailed aging parameters, which vary depending on the vintage, area, and kind of wine.

The actual findings for a specific bottle will vary depending on a variety of factors, including the bottle’s storage circumstances.

Storage conditions

Following your review of ullage, the specific wine, and the vintage, and after determining whether or not the wine appears to be in good condition, it’s time to think about storage conditions. If you’ve had the aged wine since it was first released, this is a simple process. You can tell what temperature the wine was stored at, to a greater or lesser extent, whether it became extremely hot or whether it was exposed to light for an extended period of time. (Light and vibration can also prematurely age a bottle of wine.) If you are considering purchasing the wine, inquire with the seller about the wine’s storage conditions.

  • For many years, I maintained a temperature of 50 degrees in my cellar.
  • Temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit are not suitable for long-term aging storage.
  • Temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit can quickly degrade the quality of wine.
  • Was the temperature consistent throughout the day?
  • Was the humidity within a normal range for the time of year?
  • This results in oxidized wines as well as increased ullage.
  • High humidity can also cause mold, mildew, and foxing to develop on labels.

Label Condition

Then there’s the matter of the label. If you’re planning on reselling an old wine or serving it at a formal event, you’ll want a label that looks professional. However, even if you’re simply drinking from the bottle at home, it’s still worthwhile to read the label. If the owner claims that the wine was stored in perfect circumstances, but the label is excessively worn, moldy, or dirty, you should be dubious and do more investigation. The shot above was taken by me in 2011.

The label has very minor staining and yellowing, which is to be anticipated for a 46-year-old uncoated label of this age, but it is generally in excellent condition. This indicates that the wine was stored with care in a clean environment with regular humidity.


Color is yet another crucial indicator of aging. Color changes occur in red wine as it matures, changing from red to orange to brown. In addition, the color becomes less vivid, making it easier to see through. With time, white wines mature and change color from pale yellow to gold, amber, and finally brown. As time goes on, the wine becomes more opaque. Examine the wine under the illumination of a light beaming from behind it. Do the color and intensity of the wine appear to be suitable for its age?

It may be beneficial to compare the aged wine to a new bottle of the same wine.

Closure condition

The condition of the cork is really crucial. It might be difficult to discern, though, because the cork is frequently concealed by the capsule. It is possible to detect if the cork is moldy, discolored by wine or soft or loose if the cork is exposed. Mold is seldom a concern in most situations. Those with the other characteristics, particularly a loose cork, are in a far more critical state. Even if the cork is completely covered by the capsule, there are a few things you may look for. Look around the top and bottom of the capsule to see if there are any evidence that the wine has escaped from the capsule.

  1. A cork that has been pushed up indicates that the wine has been excessively hot at some stage.
  2. Screw caps are less prone to failure than corks because of their design.
  3. If the top of the cap has been damaged, this might allow air to travel through it and cause a leak.
  4. Bottles with damaged lids will be avoided at all costs.

A Note about Counterfeit Wines

I haven’t addressed the subject of counterfeiting in any way in this article. It is a complicated issue that is way beyond the scope of this essay to discuss in detail. Furthermore, given the level of competence displayed by certain counterfeiters as well as the high prices demanded by some wines, it is preferable to have an expert analyze the wine in person. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works

3 Ways to Tell If Your Wine’s Gone Bad

If we’re being really honest, there’s a good possibility that most of us have gotten through a glass—or three—of less-than-perfect wine before confessing to some defects (whether personal or inherent in the wine). However, when a bottle of wine has truly gone bad, even the most ardent drinkers find it difficult to justify taking another taste. But how do you know if a bottle of wine has gone bad? Apart from the possibility of accidently unleashing ghosts or live bats, there must be some more evident visual or sensory cues, don’t you think?

There are, fortunately, a plethora of options. They’re not difficult to recognize, and they’re (usually) packed in a few different sensory categories to make things easier for you.

The Eyes

The act of looking at wine is a crucial element of the enjoying process. Think of it as the thing you do during a wine tasting where you gaze closely at your wine, almost as if you’ve just discovered the wine is blackmailing you. Other than that, you’re enjoying the color and, to a certain extent, getting a taste of what may be some rich blackberry or bright citrus flavors to come down the road. Get accustomed to looking at wine, and you’ll be more adept at identifying when a bottle has gone sour.

Even if certain unfiltered wines may be less clear to begin with, a change in opaqueness is typically indicative of something strange happening.

However, a younger wine, whether white or red, with a similar hue is likely to be faulty.)

The Nose

The inner chemical conversion of many “Wines Gone Bad” (a upcoming episode on TruCrime TV) wines causes them to go bad. This is in addition to cork taint, which will make your wine smell like a wet dog just shook his hair out in your musty basement) (often goosed by oxygen or heat). Bacteria in wine transforms alcoholic beverages into acetic acid, which is essentially vinegar. This may transform an otherwise pleasant night out with drinks into a bar brawl with acidity. The fact that a wine has become unpleasantly funky is not the only thing that occurs when the wine becomes unpleasantly funky, but it is a significant factor in the tragic story of lost wines.

You may also notice a cabbage or barnyard scent, which is caused by sulfur compounds or brettanomyces (which is usually a positive thing).

The Mouth

Even if you’ve sniffed the wine and are still confident in your ability to taste it, the defects may be so subtle that you’ve already consumed a significant amount of it (don’t worry, wine that has gone bad is typically harmless; it simply tastes horrible). However, tasting wine may also be an excellent supplementary method of ensuring that you are not going to throw away a nice bottle. Another thing to look for is acidic or harsher tastes that appear out of proportion with the rest of the wine, or oxidized qualities –nuttiness, flabbyness — with much duller fruit, as in the previous case.

The Solution?

So, what should you do if and when you come into any of the situations listed above? If you’re throwing a dinner party, drop a smoke bomb and make your way to the nearest evacuation sector (you’ve performed this exercise a thousand times and know where you’re going by heart). If that doesn’t work, or if your guests are moving too quickly, simply shrug and say something sweet like “they can’t all be winners” before tossing the wine. The several layers of manufacturing and conditioning that go into creating what’s in your bottle—as well as the many thousands of dollars you’ve likely invested in the purchase of that bottle—no there’s need to settle for anything less than the best.

Although you may suffer a financial setback, the freaky/cool/life-changing lesson of wine’s “aliveness,” the oddity and environmental response that distinguish it as one of the world’s most intriguing beverages, will be with you for the rest of your life.

How to Tell if Wine Has Gone Bad

As a result, what should you do if you come across any of the situations listed above? If you’re throwing a dinner party, drop a smoke bomb and make your way to the nearest evacuation sector (you’ve performed this scenario a thousand times and know where you’re going by now). Otherwise, or if your guests are moving too quickly, simply shrug and say something clever like “they can’t all be winners” before tossing the wine out the window. Considering the several stages of production and conditioning that go into creating your bottle of wine—as well as the many thousands of dollars you’ve likely spent on it—no there’s need to settle for anything less than the highest possible standard of excellence.

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How it will look

When wines are kept open for an extended period of time, they become stale. While some believe that open wines may be kept for weeks, the majority of them will lose their sparkle after only a couple of days, thus it’s important to carefully store open bottles. The color and quality of the wine should be the first things you look at. This offer expires on January 31! From now through the end of January, you may save money by purchasing only one book on wine and one digital course. Read on to find out more The wine is foggy, and it leaves a coating on the inside of the bottle.

  • It will start to become brown and eventually change color.
  • When it comes to wine, ‘browning’ is not always a bad thing (there are some fantastic “tawny” colored wines), but it will tell you how much oxidative stress has happened in the wine.
  • The bubbles are caused by a second unexpected fermentation that occurred in the bottle.
  • Unfortunately, it will not be as delightful as Champagne; instead, it will be strangely acidic and spritzy.

What it will smell like

The fragrance is the second item to take note of. Wines that are considered “poor” can be classified into two categories.

  • A wine that has a flaw in its composition. Approximately one in every seventy-five bottles has a typical wine defect
  • A wine that has been kept open for an excessive amount of time

A wine that has gone bad as a result of being left open has an abrasive and harsh fragrance. Aromas of nail polish remover, vinegar, and paint thinner will be present, as well as a sour medical note.

These fragrances are the result of chemical processes that occur when the wine is exposed to heat and oxygen, which allows bacteria to proliferate and generate acetic acid and acetaldehyde, which are then released into the air.

What it will taste like

If you taste a wine that has “gone bad,” it will not harm you, but it is generally not a good idea to consume it. A wine that has gone bad as a result of being left open will have a harsh sour smell that is akin to vinegar and can frequently burn your nasal passages in the same way that horseradish does. Because of the oxidation, it will often have characteristics that are similar to caramelized applesauce (also known as ” Sherried ” flavors).

Practice smelling bad wine

If you taste a wine that has “gone bad,” it will not harm you, but drinking it is generally not a smart idea. Because of the prolonged exposure to air, spoiled wine has a harsh sour smell comparable to vinegar and can burn your nasal passages in the same way that horseradish does. From the oxidation, it will often have characteristics that are similar to caramelized applesauce (also known as ” Sherried ” flavors).

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6 Signs Your Bottle of Wine’s Gone Bad

The experience is familiar: you’re looking forward to a glass of wine, only to take the first sip and question if it tastes right. Is it possible that the wine has gone bad? You take another drink, perhaps swirling your glass a little more. How can you know for certain that something isn’t good to drink? Because what’s the point of tossing out a whole bottle if you’re not sure? Thank you, but no thanks. The first sign that your bottle is rotten is if it has been exposed to air for an extended period of time or if the cork has become tainted; in these cases, you may presume the liquid within has turned and should not be drank.

Your Bottle of Wine Might Be Bad If:

  • There’s something wrong about the fragrance. An fragrance that smells moldy or similar to that of a musty basement, damp cardboard, or vinegar indicates that the wine has been transformed. Another red flag is the presence of a strong raisin scent. The crimson wine has a lovely flavor to it. Similarly, if a bottle of red wine has the perfume of Port or tastes like dessert wine (despite the fact that it is neither of those two things), it has been exposed to excessive heat and is consequently unfit for consumption. The cork is being pushed out of the bottle just a little bit. That is an indication that the wine has warmed and expanded within the bottle
  • The wine has a reddish tint to it at this point. The presence of a brown tint in red wine indicates that the beverage has reached the end of its shelf life. If a white wine has become dark in color, generally to a deep yellow or brownish straw tint, it has been oxidized. You sense tastes that are astringent or chemical in nature. Most terrible wines are devoid of flavor and have a distinct raspy or astringent flavor, or have a paint thinner flavor. It has a bubbly flavor to it, but it is not a sparkling wine. It is not recommended to drink still wine that is bubbly or effervescent since it has undergone a second fermentation after bottling.

One final piece of advice: always smell and scrutinize the real liquid before using it. Although the term “corked” is widely used to refer to contaminated wine, simply looking at the cork will not tell you whether or not the wine has gone bad. Use your other senses to your advantage. Have you ever had a bottle of wine that was simply unpalatable?

How To Tell If Your Wine Is Bad

Everybody has experienced it: you open a bottle of wine, pour a sip (or a whole glass, let’s be honest), and something doesn’t taste right. The question is, how can you tell if the wine has genuinely gone bad, or if it’s simply an odd, funky-tasting bottle that’s designed to be a little different? However, if your wine is genuinely terrible (also known as defective or faulty), the good news is that you may return it to the retailer and receive a refund! (Alternatively, if you’re at a restaurant, you can deny it.) (For additional information about ordering wine in restaurants, please see this page.)

Here are 6 common wine faults, and how to identify them:

Everybody has experienced it: you open a bottle of wine, take a sip (or a whole glass, let’s be honest), and something doesn’t taste right. The question is, how can you tell if the wine has gone bad or if it’s just an esoteric, funky-tasting bottle that’s designed to taste different?

Fortunately, if your wine is genuinely terrible (also known as flawed or faulty), you may return it to the retailer and receive your money back. ) If you’re at a restaurant, you have the option of declining it. Please see this link for additional information about ordering wine in restaurants.)

Oxidized Wine

When a wine has been exposed to excessive amounts of oxygen, it is referred to be ‘oxidized.’ In certain cases, this can occur even before a bottle of wine is open (if the oxygen transmission rate through the cork is too high), while in other cases, this may occur after an uncorked bottle of wine has been left open for an extended period of time. The color of a wine indicates if it has been oxidized: white wines will seem darker than they should, while red wines will lose their purple overtones and appear browner.

Reductive Wine

A issue known as reduction occurs when a wine does not receive enough oxygen exposure, resulting in the development of sulphuric compounds, which cause the wine to smell strongly of sulfur (think: a struck match). Rather than natural corks, screw cap bottles are more commonly affected by this. However, if you happen to acquire a reductive bottle, consider decanting it instead! It is possible that the vapors may dissipate and the wine will fix itself.

Fermenting Wine

If you notice that a wine that is not meant to be sparkling has grown little bubbles, you have a problem. The wine is re-fermenting within the bottle, which, in my experience, can occur if the wine is stored at an excessively high temperature, such as on a ship or truck, in a warehouse, or in a heated basement at a discount liquor shop. If this occurs to you, you should definitely return the wine!

Heat Damaged (or, ‘Maderized’) Wine

Essentially, the wine has been ‘cooked’ because it has been held at an excessively high temperature (most likely while in transit somewhere along the supply chain). It may have a little ‘jammy’ smell and taste, or it may have a flavor reminiscent of brown sugar, cola, or soy sauce.

Microbial Infected Wine

Bacterial germs naturally develop in wine as a result of fermentation. However, they can sometimes outgrow their confines and cause the wine to taste ‘wrong.’ This is the smell of a mouse, or the fragrance of a gerbil cage (ew). This is more frequent in ‘natural’ wines, which are those that have not been treated with sulfur dioxide before to bottling.

Now that you know what to look for if you think your wine is bad, let’s talk about wine attributes that may be a little weird, but are not technically flaws.

These characteristics are naturally present in wines, and they are often considered to be a matter of personal choice! Many people have strong aversions to certain flavors and aromas, but these are not actually faults in the wine:

Volatile Acidity

Acetic acid concentrations in the wine are high, and the wine may have a flavor and smell similar to that of acrylic nail paint or varnish.

‘Green’ Aromas

Some individuals find natural herbal, floral, and vegetable flavors in wine to be off-putting, and this is understandable. Other individuals cannot tolerate cilantro, and some people cannot tolerate ‘green’ tastes in wine. Grass, violet, green bell pepper, and harsh herbs are all frequent characteristics in many wines. This is not a problem, and it is not a flaw. Most commonly found in Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Carmenere, among other varieties.


Tartaric acid crystals can spontaneously develop in the presence of alcohol.

If you have white wine, the sediment may seem like grains of salt at the bottom of the bottle; if you have red wine, the sediment may be black and sandy in appearance. It is possible to decant wine to remove the sediment.


Brettanomyces is an abbreviation for Brettanomyces odoriferans, a bacterium that produces an extremely strong odor when it is infected by specific yeast strains. It is possible to identify Brett if the wine has ‘barnyard’ fragrances, which include horse, hay bale, or stable-like scents, or if the wine has a band-aid-like smell or taste. Rhône wines (Syrah and Carignan) are particularly prone to this phenomenon, but it is not exclusive to that area alone.

Is this wine bad? — KnowWines

Have you ever wondered if a bottle of wine has gone bad after you’ve tasted or smelled it before? Have you ever overheard someone exclaim, “This wine is corked!” without truly understanding what they were referring to? Have you ever been concerned that you could become sick after drinking a glass of wine that didn’t taste quite right? Some individuals may consider a “poor wine” to be one that they just do not enjoy drinking. It is important to distinguish between disliking a wine because one prefers a specific style, type, or attribute and disliking a wine because it has flaws.

Why all this worry about wine flaws?

It is less usual now to find bad wines (or wines with flaws) than it used to be. Even yet, there are many wine buyers who are hesitant to order wines at restaurants or purchase wines from a bottle shop for fear that the wine would be poor quality. Wines with flaws were more widespread in previous decades and centuries, but that has changed. When there was no reliable transportation (refrigerated rail cars, refrigerated semi-trailers, or air travel), wines were at risk of being “cooked,” “frozen,” or mishandled while being transported across the country or across the oceans (we will discuss specific faults and causes of faults later in the blog!).

  1. Despite the fact that minimal intervention wines use natural or chemical techniques to keep their wines stable, they nonetheless taste and look excellent whether they are displayed on a winery’s shelf or in a fine dining establishment’s display case.
  2. Aside from that, flying winemakers provide assistance to emerging wine regions.
  3. One reason why some customers believe a wine to be terrible is that it is one-dimensional (just having one flavor) or that they simply did not enjoy it.
  4. In this case, your order may be confirmed more than than by the sommelier, who may be aware that the wine you’ve selected is outside of the ‘typical’ consumer pattern and does not want to open a bottle of wine that you may not enjoy.
  5. Keep your receipts when you purchase wines from retail establishments or from the winery.
  6. They are aware that an occasional bottle will go bad and have taken this into consideration when calculating their profit margins.

However, you may stumble across a few substandard wines over your drinking career. In this section, we’ll go over some of the most typical signs of rotten wine and how to tell whether a bottle is bad.

Does unopened wine go bad?

Yes, even correctly preserved wines, even those that have not been opened, may go bad. There are numerous methods to identify if a bottle of unopened wine is rotten simply by looking at it! Here are some visual clues to look for to determine if a bottle of wine is likely to be bad before opening it.

  • Take a look at the label on the top of the wine bottle. Is the cork’s top flush with the rim of the bottle’s opening? If not elevated (coming out of the bottle), then sunken (going into the bottle) is another option. Corks that have been raised or sunken may indicate that the wine has been subjected to high temperatures or pressure fluctuations during transportation or storage. The same way that some beers in transparent bottles (such as Corona) may suffer from light strike and become “skunky,” wine in a clear bottle can suffer from light strike and become “skunky” when exposed to light for a prolonged length of time. Consequently, while shopping for wine, if the bottle of Sauvignon Blanc you are eyeing appears to be a bit dusty (and its vintage is more than three years old), consider passing it over in favor of a more recent vintage. Wines packaged in transparent bottles are intended to be consumed within 1-2 years after their release date. Some ageable wines such as Sauternes, on the other hand, are packaged in transparent bottles
  • Ullage is just a fancy phrase for the amount of space that is left between the cork and the neck of a bottle of wine. There should be no ullage and the level of wine in the bottle should be the same as that of similar wines on the shelf if the wine is young
  • If you find that the cork is dry and brittle while you are opening a bottle of wine, there is a greater chance that the bottle is faulty. To ascertain this, though, you’ll need to use your senses of smell and taste to become creative. The possibility that oxygen was able to pass through the cork and into the wine is high if the cork shrank during the fermentation process. We were concerned about opening some older bottles with brittle corks, but it turned out that the piece of the cork closest to the wine was perfectly OK, and the wine itself was delicious

What if my wine smells bad?

Immediately after you (or the sommelier) pour the wine into the glass, take 2-3 seconds to inspect the wine for anything unusual, such as cloudiness or a slightly off color. If you’re not sure, don’t be hesitant to ask the server if the wine appears to be the color you expect it to be. If you’re at home, there are excellent online tools for determining the color of wine based on its style. Having visually inspected the wine bottle and having successfully removed the cork from the bottle at home (or having been served the wine in a restaurant), the next step is to engage your sense of smell.

  • It is unfortunate that smelling the cork will not truly assist you in determining whether or not the wine is good or terrible.
  • If you notice an unpleasant odor but are unsure whether or not the odor is normal, simply return the glass to the server and ask him or her to investigate.
  • Alternatively, it might be a problem with the wine.
  • The final step is the taste test.
  • Whenever I use it, I only use a small quantity and quietly swish it about my lips before swallowing.
  • Almost all of the time, the wine tastes exactly as it should.
  • Once at the restaurant, request that the waiter or sommelier pour themselves a sample to confirm the off-flavor before requesting that a replacement bottle be brought out.
  • If you are away from home, replace the screw-top or cork in the bottle and place it in the refrigerator.
  • The majority of the time, the merchant will either replace the wine or issue a refund to the customer.
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What are some aromas or flavors I will encounter in a bad wine?

There are a variety of descriptive adjectives that may be used to characterize wine flaws (typically undesirable bad aromas). These frequent terms are genuinely related with molecules or groupings of molecules, as opposed to other words or phrases. Here are a handful of the most prevalent wine defect descriptions, as well as the chemicals that are related with them. Some of these tastes and scents are commonly recognized as flaws, while others are a little more difficult to pin down. Some winemakers claim that oxidation (the addition of oxygen during winemaking) and the tastes and smells of a Brettanomyces-infected wine are two forms of ‘flaws’ that, depending on the wine and wine style, may be both pleasant and desirable.

Because of the growth in the number of natural wines available on the market, this topic is becoming more common. However, this is a topic for an other essay!

Where do wine faults come from?

When it comes to wine flaws, there are a variety of descriptive terms to use (typically undesirable bad aromas). These frequent terms are genuinely related with molecules or groupings of molecules, as opposed to other words or concepts. A handful of the most prevalent wine defect descriptions, as well as the chemicals that are related with them, are included below. The flavor and scent of some of these foods are widely recognized as being off-putting, while others are less clear. Some winemakers claim that oxidation (the addition of oxygen during winemaking) and the tastes and smells of a Brettanomyces-infected wine are two forms of ‘flaws’ that, depending on the wine and wine style, can be pleasant and even desirable.

The subject of another article, however, is this.

What if my non-sparkling wine is fizzy?

In other words, you’ve just opened a bottle of wine and heard something explode, despite the fact that you didn’t purchase any sparkling wine. Alternatively, you may notice the feeling of small bubbles on your tongue when you least expect it. It is possible to encounter this occurrence in fragrant white wines such as Riesling that have been bottled early. This type of occurrence is often not seen as a flaw. A little amount of CO2 was added to the bottle at the time of bottling to give the wine a slight lift of freshness.

The appearance of fizz in less aromatic white wines (such as Chardonnay aged in wood) and in the majority of red wines is most likely a sign of a fault.

If the wine has a slight cloudiness to it, this is generally indicative of a secondary fermentation, as the cloudiness is caused by yeast or bacterium bodies in suspension.

Why does my wine have no flavor?

It is sometimes the fault of the wine that it has little to no flavor at all. The cause of this error is a little more difficult to determine, especially if you are at a restaurant and the waitress or sommelier is hanging over you, asking if the wine is “okay.” The temperature should be the first thing to check in this situation. After tasting the wine and seeing that there are no scents or flavors, you’ll need to wait until the wine has warmed up a little before seeing whether any fragrances develop.

This is due to the fact that many wines just do not have a great deal of taste, and serving wines at a temperature that is too low can disguise numerous quality faults.

Even if you aren’t sure whether or not the wine has to be decanted, you can always ask your waiter or sommelier whether or not this is the sort of wine that requires air, particularly if you have never had that specific type of wine before.

Whether you are at home, you could wish to look into your wine using an App such as VivinoorCellarTracker to check if others have had the same experience as you have experienced.

Why does my wine taste like vinegar or fingernail polish remover?

Acetic acid (vinegar smell) and ethyl acetate are the sources of a strong, acidic scent that you may notice (nail polish remover). These substances are produced in the vineyard by yeast and bacteria that are indigenous to the area. Winemakers attempt to regulate this by regulating the quantity of oxygen exposed to the grapes throughout the winemaking process. While this form of acidity is relatively easy to regulate in commercial winemaking, if one begins to incorporate oak barrel aging into the process, this type of acidity becomes more frequent.

Some wine consumers are more sensitive to – and prefer to a greater or lesser extent – the amount of these acids present in the wine they consume, whilst others do not.

What do I do with bad wine?

Whenever you come across a poor bottle of wine, the best course of action is to speak with the merchant at the store where you purchased the bottle of wine. The majority of individuals who sell and serve wine are aware that a lousy bottle of wine every now and then is an unavoidable aspect of the industry. Please contact the winery directly, either by email or phone, to explain your situation and how they can help you. If possible, describe the problem in your message to the best of your abilities Most will take steps to refund your money or give you a replacement bottle of wine from the same or a comparable vintage if you are unhappy with your purchase.

What happens if I drink bad wine?

Whenever you come across a poor bottle of wine, the best course of action is to speak with the merchant at the shop where you purchased the bottle of wine. Wine merchants and servers are well aware that a lousy wine or two every now and then is just a part of the job. Please contact the winery directly, either via email or phone, to explain your situation and how they might help you in the future. Describe the problem to the best of your ability in your message. Most will take steps to refund your money or give you a new bottle of wine from the same or a comparable vintage if you are unhappy with the wine.

How to Prevent Wine from Going Bad

If you store wine at home, proper storage away from heat and light will assist to preserve your wines in good condition. If you’d want to learn more about wine coolers and wine storage, you can read our article on the subject.

Want to geek out on wine faults?

Want to learn more about the color of wine as it ages and about wine defects without having to learn all about chemistry?

Look no further. Check out the Wine Folly Master Guide, which won a James Beard Award in 2011. More information about wine defects for the citizen scientist may be found at: Is reading not enough for you? Try a wine fault kit and infuse several wines with fault scents to see what happens!

In conclusion

You should now be aware of the most prevalent reasons why your wine goes bad. Wine flaws are continuing to drop as vineyard management, winemakers, and the distribution channels employ more technology to limit the likelihood of wine going bad in the first place. This article provided some pointers on how to use your common sense (as well as your wits and resources!) to assess if a wine is truly terrible or simply unappealing to your palate in order to make a decision. We’ve also validated that you will not suffer any negative consequences if you happen to drink any terrible wine.

  • If you do chance to acquire a faulty bottle of wine, you should notify the shop immediately after purchasing it.
  • Remember that your opinion is beneficial to the wine industry, so don’t feel as though you are annoying the individual or being a demanding consumer.
  • If you have a negative encounter with a retailer, you should speak with the management or the distributor about it.
  • Finally, here’s to the 97-99 percent of wine that is completely faultless!

How to Recognize If Your Wine Has Gone Bad

Do I enjoy the wine, or do I dislike the wine, or do I have no opinion? This is how simple it is for some of us to identify “defect” in a bottle of wine. However, if you’re wanting to enhance your wine knowledge and make an investment in your wine collection, there are a few common wine flaws that you should be aware of in order to prevent being disappointed by a substandard bottle of wine.


Keep an eye out for wines that are orange or red-brown in color, have overtones of vinegar and sourness in white wines, or lack of fragrance and flavor in red wines. Everybody has experienced this: you want a glass of wine on Monday, but it ends up sitting on the bench until Friday – and by then, it smells and tastes a little sour or flat. It is due to bacteria in the wine that causes oxidation, which causes the sugar and alcohol to be converted into acetic acid when the wine is exposed to too much air.

Oxygen is an essential component of the winemaking process since it contributes to the development of complexity and character.

However, much as a chopped apple would discolor if left out for too long, oxidized wines will change from deep orange to red-brown, and unfortunately, they cannot be rescued or revived and must be thrown away completely.

Place it in your refrigerator after sealing it as securely as possible. Temperatures below 32 degrees Celsius can reduce the effects of oxidation, which may buy you an extra day but not much more.

Cooked Wine

Keep an eye out for wines that have a distinct flavor that suggests they were prepared primarily with dried fruits. In reds, you could see jammy or stewed qualities, while in whites, you might notice brown discoloration or nuttiness. Often referred to as maderised (after the manner by which Madeira is produced), cooked wine is the consequence of prolonged exposure to high temperatures and/or frequent temperature fluctuations. Any source of heat exposure or fluctuation can occur, from sitting in a hot truck while traveling to and from work to sitting near your stove at home.

Even while there are no specific sorts or styles of wine that are more or less prone to being “cooked,” there are certain steps you may take to prevent this from happening in your own house (other than investing in a proper cellar or wine cabinet).

It is preferable to be in a dark, cold, and dry environment, although a large portion of this is due to temperature fluctuations.

Whether or whether you choose to consume it is up to you.

Cork Taint

Take note of any wine that has the distinct flavor of having been produced only from dehydrated fruit. In reds, you may see jammy or stewed qualities, while in whites, you may notice brown discoloration or nuttiness. Often referred to as maderised (after the manner by which Madeira is produced), cooked wine is the consequence of prolonged exposure to high temperatures or a wide range of temperatures. Any source of heat exposure or fluctuation is possible, from riding in a hot vehicle while traveling to and from work to sitting near the stove at home.

Even while there are no specific sorts or styles of wine that are more or less prone to being “cooked,” there are certain steps you can take to prevent this from happening in your house (other than investing in a proper cellar or wine cabinet).

Although it is preferable to be somewhere dark, cold, and dry, temperature fluctuations play an important role in this decision.

Whether or if you consume it is up to you.

Brettanomyces or “Brett”

Look for “farm-like” scents such as “horsey” or “barnyard,” which have a metallic aftertaste and are classified as “horsey” or “barnyard.” When a wine is heavily polluted, it may also smell like Band-Aids or bandages, which can overpower the wine’s other agreeable characteristics. Depending on who you ask, the presence of Brett in wine can be a positive or a terrible thing, depending on their point of view. Brett is a type of wild yeast that can be difficult to control and eradicate from a vineyard after it has been introduced into a vineyard.

Brett supporters believe that, when used in tiny amounts, it may enhance the depth and texture of a wine while also enhancing its current character – but this only applies to the kind of wines where “texture” is something you’d want for in the first place.

Many wineries are now attempting to avoid using it in their wines entirely, raising the question of whether we will eventually see less and less of it in current wines as time goes on.

Old Wine

A faded or brownish color, as well as a wine that smells dusty or lacking in fruits on the nose and lacks in freshness, structure, and complexity, are all signs of a well-matured wine.important It’s to note that there is a significant difference between olderwines and older wines, and understanding how a well-matured wine smells and tastes is a great start toward understanding this difference. Whether from a winemaker or your most nerdy wine-loving buddy, you may have heard wine characters referred to as “primary” and “secondary.” Matured or older wines may express less primary characters such as fruit, but they will still be textural and nuanced, as well as enjoyable to drink.

By contrast, a bottle of old wine will reveal little of anything at all.

However, if a wine appears weary or lacks any of the flavour you were expecting, you may have held onto it for a bit longer than you should have.

Volatile Acidity or “VA”

Find a wine that smells like it might be used to remove nail paint or to season a salad (thus acetone or vinegar would be appropriate descriptions). Volatile acidity, like Brettanomyces, splits wine drinkers into two camps: those who like it “sometimes” and those who don’t. This is because volatile acidity may be utilized by winemakers to impart certain characteristics to wines. In wine, it is caused by a mixture of chemicals, principally ethyl acetate and acetic acid, which are present in all wines but are only considered a flaw when they react with the alcohol to produce the unappealing nail polish remover odour.

Using VA to enhance a lighter type red wine with spritzy, fermented fruit smells, for example, may be done in tiny quantities.

However, if you are turned off by this description alone, VA-present wines are probably not for you.

If you ever purchase a glass of wine by the glass and are served anything that doesn’t smell or taste right, don’t be hesitant to inquire as to how long the wine has been open or to request that the staff examine the wine themselves.

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