How To Tell If Wine Has Gone Bad

How To Tell If Wine Has Gone Bad

We’ve all been there. You come home from work ready to unwind from a long day, grab that bottle of half-consumed Pinot Noir, open it up and …what is that smell? Something is off. Is my wine bad? What happens if I drink wine that’s gone bad? 

Whether it’s the smell or the taste that just doesn’t seem quite how it should be, consuming wine that’s gone bad is never a pleasant experience. So how can you tell if your wine has gone bad? We’re explaining all about it in the article. 

How To Tell If Wine Has Gone Bad


How do you know if unopened wine is bad?

It is possible that an unopened bottle of wine has gone bad. This can happen if the temperature changes during shipment storage, or if the wine was exposed to even the slightest bit of bacteria during production. It can even occur if the wine was exposed to too much UV light! These unfortunate occurrences are known as 'wine faults' and there are some ways to catch them even before you open the bottle.

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. These are all signs that there is bacterial or microbe growth inside the bottle.


Is my wine still drinkable?

If your bottle of wine is already opened and you’re wondering if it’s drinkable, there are some ways you can tell. Opened wine that has gone bad has been exposed to too much air, this is known as oxidation. While a little oxidation is actually beneficial for wine and can enhance the flavors, too much exposure to air results in wine that has lost all its flavors, and you’ll be left with a very bitter, vinegary tasting wine.  If your wine smells musty or vinegary, it’s gone bad. Wine that looks cloudy, discolored, or has bubbles in it, is also past its prime.


How To Tell If Wine Has Gone Bad

Can you get sick from drinking old wine?

The good news about drinking old wine is that it really won’t do you any serious damage. You may feel a little sick from the taste or smell, but you won’t end up in the emergency room -unless of course you drink it in extremely large quantities- which we don't recommend doing for new or old wine. If you have wine that you’re just not sure about, try following these tips:



Check the color

If your bottle of red wine is looking more like a cloudy brown, don’t drink it. White wines have a tendency to turn to darker, more golden colors when it’s gone bad.


Do a smell test

Give your wine a quick sniff before tasking it. If it smells like wet dog, mold, or vinegar, dump that baby down the drain and open a new bottle.


Taste it

When all else fails, let your tastebuds do the deciding. You know how a wine should taste, so if your wine tastes too sharp or acidic, it’s time to say goodbye.



Interested in learning more about wine? Check out our other blog posts:

How to open wine without a wine opener

How is wine made?

What wines go with steak?

How long does boxed wine last?

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