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How To Tell If Wine Is Bad?

Have you ever poured yourself a glass of wine and got ready to sit, relax and unwind only to take a sip and think something isn’t right?

Or maybe you got a bottle of wine as a housewarming gift two years ago and you aren’t sure if it is still ok to drink? Wine would never last two years in my house but hey!

Although drinking a small amount of bad wine isn’t harmful to you, it is unpleasant. You do want to avoid drinking it, especially in large amounts.

There are a few things to look for when figuring out if your wine is safe to drink or not. This post will help you to know if you should drink it or heaven forbid, need to throw it out.

Black background with a bottle of red wine being poured into a wine glass.

Steps for telling if wine is bad

Let’s get into the different things you want to look for when deciding if your wine has spoiled.

As I said before bad wine won’t hurt you but it won’t taste good so therefore it won’t be so relaxing and enjoyable.


A wine that has gone bad will change slightly in color. You will notice that a red wine that has gone bad has a brownish hue to it as opposed to the purple-reddish color that it should be.

White wines will darken in color when they have gone bad. Cloudiness is another sign that your wine is no longer good.

Bubbles in your wine can be an indicator of bad wine. Bubbly wine that isn’t sparkly wine means that it has gone bad.


If your wine smells off to you then I would suggest that you do not drink it. Typically spoiled wines will have a musky, wet dog smell to them.

A wine that has been left open for too long might also give off an odor similar to nail polish remover or vinegar.

However rotten egg smell has been used to describe a wine that may have been bottled with too many sulfite preservatives are used during the bottling process.

3 ways wine goes bad

Here are the reasons that wine has gone bad. You want to look out for these so that you don’t make the mistake of drinking them.

There are a number of ways that wine can go bad whether from being bottled incorrectly, stored incorrectly, being old, or being left open too long.

Let’s dive into the many different reasons your wine may be bad and what might have caused it to happen.

Corked wine

As a wine drinker, whether you are an amateur or an enthusiast, you have most likely heard the term “corked wine”. So what exactly does this mean and how can you tell?

Corked wine doesn’t mean that the wine tastes like a cork, but that the cork itself has been tainted with what they call TCA or Trichloroanisole.

This is a bacteria that forms on the cork. Wines that are screwcap can not be contaminated with TCA.

Drinking corked wine I would avoid it can taste of a wet dog or damp basement smell.

Oxidized wine

Oxidized wines have been over-exposed to oxygen which causes the wine to ferment and taste more like vinegar. Unopened bottles and opened bottles of wine can become oxidized.

If the bottle wasn’t been stored properly the cork can expand and contract as I mentioned earlier and allow too much oxygen to the wine and it will restart the fermentation process.

A wine that has been opened and sat for too long without being corked or sat for too long after it had been opened can also cause the wine to become oxidized.

Oxidized wine will change the color of the wine. Red wine tends to lose its purple color and change to brown whereas white wines tend to darken in color.

Fermented wine

A wine that has been sitting in an environment that is too hot can cause the wine to re-ferment.

This means that the wine is turning into vinegar and which will have bubbles much like a sparkling wine or champagne when it’s not supposed to.

This usually occurs because the bottles were not sterilized and the heat activates the yeast which starts to feed on the sugars creating bubbly wine.

Things to look for

If you see or taste any of these when you are trying to enjoy your glass of wine then you should try a new bottle.

  • Tastes like wet dog
  • Sour like saurkruat
  • Looks dull or brownish
  • Smells of rotten eggs
  • Bubbly when it isn’t supposed to be

How long does wine last after it is been opened

It is important to store opened wine in the refrigerator either re-corked or tightly sealed. Red wine is best if brought up to room temperature before serving it.

WineHow long does wine last
after it is opened
Sherry1-8 weeks
Port1-4 weeks
Dessert3-6 days
Red3-5 days
Rose1-3 days
White3-5 days
Sparkling1-8 weeks

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