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Can Wine Go Bad?

Can wine go bad? Many of us like to drink a glass of wine every once in a while, but not everyone knows how long does wine last, how to store it or how to tell if it is bad already.

That’s what is the purpose of this article – giving you all the crucial information about wine you need.

Drinking wine at a birthday party
(credit: Kelsey Knight)

How long does wine last?

Many people have heard that wine lasts indefinitely, but unfortunately, that’s not true.

As long as the bottle of wine is unopened and it’s stored properly, it can be stored for years. If your wine is of great quality, you might keep it in your pantry or cellar for many years and it’ll be fine, provided you store it properly.

If, on the other hand, it’s a normal, or even a quite inexpensive wine, it shouldn’t be kept that long – using it within a year or two is a good idea.

A glass with a little bit of wine
Image used under Creative Commons from jenny downing

Few words about storing unopened bottles of wine. When wine is stored unopened, it ages. As I’ve mentioned above, the better the wine, the longer it can age.

Wine aging is a process that influences the taste of the wine, but it doesn’t make it go bad. That’s why some wines are extremely precious – they were stored for quite some time and developed great, distinguishable taste.

When you plan to store an unopened bottle of wine for longer than a few weeks, you should keep it in a lying position. This way the cork will be moistened all the time and it won’t shrink or develop any tiny holes.

If the cork deteriorates and starts to let air inside the bottle, wine stops aging and it starts to deteriorate. Eventually, it will go bad.

Once you’ve open the bottle, wine will be fine only for a couple of days, maybe a week. That’s why you should use it fairly quickly, because it starts to deteriorate pretty fast. A sparkling wine can become flat within two days.

When the wine is opened, you should keep it in the fridge. Before that, storing it in a cool and dark place, like in the pantry, is recommended.

After opening the wine you should remember that it should be always sealed tightly. To do that, you can use the original cork (they do not always want to fit), a stopper or a plastic wrap and a rubber band. Just make sure it’s tightly sealed.

Pouring wine into a glass
(credit: Jeff Siepman)

Does wine expire? How to tell if wine is bad?

Wine does expire, but it strongly depends on its quality. If it’s a quality one, it can be stored even for a hundred years and after opening it’ll be of great quality. Cheap wines, on the other hand, should be used within a few years. That’s true for white, red, and sparking wine.

Once the bottle of wine is opened, it will go bad fairly quickly, usually within a week.

You know that wine can go bad. How to tell if it is bad? It’s fairly simple. You need to examine its looks, smell and taste. If it has changed its color, or it has developed off odor, it’s bad and you should throw it out.

If it doesn’t taste like a normal wine does, discard it as well. The main rule you should follow is that it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

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.

Quality wines can last many years, but cheap ones shouldn’t be stored for longer than a few years.