How do you know if wine has gone bad? Tips to avoid a sour sip.

Wine is a beverage that improves with age; however, not all wines last forever. Wine lovers need to be careful to ensure that the wine they consume is not tainted. Bad wine can ruin a good meal or even make you sick. In this article, we will discuss how to identify bad wine and tips to ensure that you don’t end up with a sour sip.

What Are the Signs That Wine Has Gone Bad?

Wine that has gone bad is easy to spot if you know what to look for. Below are some of the most common indicators that your wine has gone bad:

  • Unpleasant smell: Wine that has gone bad usually develops a pungent or unpleasant smell. This could be due to various reasons such as oxidation, bacteria, or cork taint.
  • Cloudiness: Clear wine that has turned cloudy could also be a sign of spoilage. This could be caused by contamination or excessive exposure to heat or sunlight.
  • Off-flavors: Bad wine often has a sour or off-flavor. This could be due to bacterial contamination or oxidation.
  • Fizzy or flat: Some wines are sparkling, but if a wine that should not be fizzy becomes bubbly or flat, it is a sign that it has gone bad.
  • Color changes: Changes in color could be a sign that the wine has oxidized, especially if it is a white wine or rose.

What Causes Wine to Go Bad?

Wine goes bad because of various reasons. Here are a few:


Oxidation happens when wine comes into contact with oxygen. When exposed to air, wine begins to lose its freshness and can eventually spoil. This is why wine bottles have corks or screw caps that help to keep air out.


Bacteria such as acetic acid bacteria can cause wine to spoil. These bacteria convert alcohol into acetic acid, causing the wine to smell like vinegar.

Excessive Exposure to Heat or Sunlight

Excessive exposure to heat or sunlight can cause wine to age too quickly, leading to spoilage. High temperatures can cause the wine to become flat, while sunlight can lead to oxidation.

Faulty Corks

Corks can become contaminated or faulty, leading to cork taint. Cork taint is a musty smell and flavor that can ruin wine.

How to Store Wine to Avoid Spoilage

The way wine is stored has a significant impact on its lifespan. Here are a few tips to help you store your wine:

Store Wine in a Cool and Dark Place

Wine should be stored in a cool and dark place, away from sunlight and heat sources like ovens, stovetops, or radiators. Temperature fluctuations can cause oxidation, which spoils the wine.

Store Wine Bottles Sideways

Wine bottles should be stored on their side to keep the wine in contact with the cork, ensuring that the cork stays moist and does not dry out and shrink. This prevents air from getting into the bottle.

Avoid Vibrations

Vibrations can cause a chemical reaction that can spoil the wine. Avoid storing wine near appliances that produce vibrations, such as washing machines or refrigerators.

How to Prevent Spoilage During Consumption

Even if wine has been properly stored, it can go bad during consumption if you’re not careful. Here are some tips to help you avoid spoilage:

Finish Open Bottles of Wine Quickly

Once a bottle is opened, wine begins to oxidize quickly. Therefore, it is essential to finish any open bottles of wine quickly, preferably within a day or two.

Avoid Drinking Wine That Has Been Open for a Long Time

Wine that has been opened for a long time has likely oxidized and may taste sour or flat.

Avoid Pouring Wine Back Into the Bottle

Putting wine back into the bottle after pouring can introduce bacteria, which can cause spoilage of the remaining wine.


As a wine lover, it’s important to know if your wine has gone bad to avoid a sour sip. Bad wine is easy to spot if you know what to look for. Proper storage can also help to prevent spoilage. Remember to store wine bottles sideways, in a cool and dark place and avoid vibrations. Once opened, be sure to finish the wine within a day or two to avoid oxidation. Always follow these tips to ensure that you don’t end up with a bad bottle of wine.

Common Questions and Answers

Why does wine go bad?

Wine can go bad due to various reasons such as oxidation, bacterial contamination, cork taint, and excessive exposure to heat or sunlight.

How can I tell if wine has gone bad?

Signs that wine has gone bad include a bad smell, cloudiness, off flavors, fizziness or flatness, and color changes.

How should wine be stored to prevent spoilage?

Wine should be stored in a cool and dark place, away from sunlight and heat sources. The bottles should be stored on their side, and vibrations should be avoided.

Can bad wine make me sick?

Drinking bad wine could make you sick, causing symptoms like headaches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

How long does wine last?

The lifespan of wine varies based on the type of wine and storage conditions. Most red wines can be aged for up to 10 years, while most white wines should be consumed within three years of production. Sparkling wines have a shorter lifespan and should be consumed within a few years of production.







Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *