Does Wine Go Bad? (Yes and Three Ways To Stop It)

Dec 7


Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham

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Ever wondered if wine goes bad? The answer is yes. Fortunately, there are three different ways to stop wine going bad.


Ever wondered,Does Wine Go Bad? (Yes and Three Ways To Stop It) Articles “does wine go bad?” when looking at a bottle of wine in your refrigerator. It’s a fair question because you might not want to finish the bottle right away.

The answer to “does wine go bad?” is yes. Once that wine is fully open to the air, it will go bad with time. Fortunately, there is some good news. A wine can be enjoyable for up to 24 hours after opening if you close it and put it back into the refrigerator.

In some cases, you might be able to have a bottle of wine up to five days after opening, but wine lovers shouldn’t count on that. If your wine bottles are exposed to higher heat levels, the wine into vinegar process may go even faster. Now that we know the answer to does wine go bad after opening - eventually all wine goes bad after opening - we can make some decisions.

Does Wine Go Bad After Being Opened? Find Out Why

After bottles of wine are opened, two kinds of chemical reactions can impact wine. The first explanation is acetic acid bacteria “eats” the alcohol in wine and transforms it into acetic acid and acetaldehyde. The second cause is oxidation – excessive exposure to oxygen can cause problems. 

In a way, wine is like food. When you leave leftover food on the table for several days, you would expect it to go bad over time. Keep this concept (wine is food) whenever somebody asks you "does wine go bad after opening."

Three Ways To Prevent Wine Going Bad

You have a few choices to minimize the effect of wine going bad after being opened. We’re not going to cover other types of problems like cork taint because those issues need a different approach.

1 Finish the wine!

Finishing a bottle of wine by topping off each person’s glass of wine is a good option, especially at a dinner party. The advantage of this solution is simplicity. There are no accessories, wine stoppers, or planning required. It would be best if you decided how much to pour out for each of the wine drinkers you are serving. If you have sparkling wine from the Champagne wine region, I'd suggest finishing off the bottle. A bottle of sparkling wine is going to lose its bubbles fairly quickly. Without those bubbles, a bottle of sparkling wine is really a shadow of its former self.

That said, finishing a bottle of wine by drinking all of it in one day is not always an option. For example, you might limit yourself to a single glass of wine with dinner. You might also be concerned about drinking too much if you consume a bottle of wine with higher alcohol content. Alternatively, wine enthusiasts may want to enjoy their finest wines over a more extended period.

In that case, we need some other strategies to avoid heat damage and retain wine’s subtle flavors as long as possible.

2 Store Your Wine Bottles In The Refrigerator Using Wine Stoppers

Heat and light are critical factors in the shelf life of wine and keeping the flavor intact. To put off worrying about the question "does wine go bad after opening?," reduce the heat and light exposure to the bottle of wine.

Putting the wine cork back in place and putting the wine into your refrigerator is the simple way to keep the wine. If you lose the wine cork, you can also use another type of wine stopper. However, make sure that the wine stopper you choose fits the bottle well.

Keep your expectations modest: three days is reasonable. The only type of wine that can last much longer is a fortified wine by port wine, one of the most popular dessert wines. Those wines can last several weeks after being opened, mainly if you use a vacuum pump to remove air from the bottle.

In a situation where you have more than one wine in the fridge, please take note of the date it was opened. That will help you to keep track of which wine to finish first.

3 The Way To Enjoy Wine For Several Weeks Without A Vinegary Taste

Have you noticed that restaurants sometimes sell wine by the glass? For the restaurant to maintain standards, they have two choices. They can sell the entire bottle relatively quickly. Or they can pour the wine without removing the cork!

Invented by an engineer, the Coravin machine is a significant innovation in wine technology. As CNN reported in a 2017 article:

“It works like this: A thin, hollow needle is pushed through the cork to inject argon gas into the bottle. The gas pressure forces wine back up through the same needle and into the glass, while preventing the rest of the bottle from oxidizing. When the needle is withdrawn, the cork reseals.”

I first encountered the wine technology via travel writer and travel expert Rick Steves when he demonstrated the technology on a visit to Europe. I love the idea! However, I have not yet tested it myself.

I look forward to testing it out in the future, especially when I organize a tasting of multiple wines. In particular, I like the idea of using the coravin on an expensive bottle of wine where you want to enjoy each glass fully, including the fruit character of the wine.

Of all the wine gadgets I’ve looked at, the coravin wine system is priced relatively high. However, the company’s entry-level product – the Pivot ($99) – claims to preserve everyday wines for up to 4 weeks. For wine enthusiasts who are already spending $100 or more per bottle, the coravin wine system makes a lot of sense.

For wine enthusiasts who have already bought a wine refrigerator to protect their expensive wine, buying a Coravin machine makes a lot of sense. It means you can enjoy your best wines over a more extended period of time.

What Does “Bad” Wine Taste Like?

Instead of simply telling you to expect unpleasant tastes, we can do better than that. With leftover wine, the most common result is a combination of alcohol and vinegar. That means that much of the complexity that makes wine attractive will be lost.

Let’s start with the simple scenario – a bottle that has been open for two or three days. Drinking the wine is probably safe, though I would not recommend it. Instead, you will probably taste the alcohol in the wine glass more than anything else. That isn’t very pleasant if you come to wine looking for a complex mix of aromas and tastes.

The Oxidation Process: It Isn't All Bad...

So far, you might get the impression that the oxidation process is terrible and that it destroys wine. Not so fast! In some cases, oxygen is a vital part of the winemaking process.

By the way, bacteria and oxidation are common aspects of the wine making process. For example, some California winemakers use “micro-oxygenation “ to change the character of the wine, according to SevenFifty Daily. This practice can be used to reduce the vegetal character of the wine. Therefore, the fruit flavor in wine will have a better chance of coming through in the final bottled wine.

You might be asking why oxidation works if you are a winemaker, but you get a wine into vinegar scenario when you try it. The answer comes down to technique, practice, and sophistication. When you have leftover wine, you are probably not methodically measuring it in terms of temperature and controlling the amount of oxygen exposure, especially when cleaning up after a dinner party. In contrast, a professional following a winemaking process can be scientific. They are also able to throw away wine that does not meet their standards. Finally, the winemaking process means you have plenty of chances to experiment across a large volume of wine. Today, you might try oxygen exposure for a minute, and tomorrow, try five minutes. The individual wine enthusiast is unlikely to take this approach.

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