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How To Tell If Wine Is Bad

If you’re an experienced wine enthusiast, it is likely that you can look at a bottle of wine and tell if it is good or bad wine. However, new wine drinkers may not recognize the signs or know how to tell if wine is bad. In this article, we will explain the key identifiers of bad wine so that you never make the mistake of drinking it.

How To Tell If Wine Has Gone Bad

So you’ve had a rough day at work and you can’t wait to get home because you remembered about that bottle of wine in the fridge that you opened a few days ago. Hooray! You arrive home, open the fridge, and pour yourself a glass. Upon tasting it, you immediately realize that the wine’s flavor is not as good as you remembered it. In fact, it’s not good at all. What you thought was a only few days was actually a week and that wine has gone bad.

What Does Bad Wine Look Like?

One of the easiest ways to spot a bad bottle of wine is to simply look at it. As wine deteriorates, it changes in color and clarity. Also, if a wine has gone bad, small bubbles tend to appear due to continuous fermentation. This occurs when the wine is stressed and past its prime.

What Does Bad Wine Smell Like?

When wine turns bad, it tends to sour and take on a pungent aroma. This occurs over time and the longer that wine is uncorked, the worse it will smell.

To test whether or not a wine is bad, sniff it, looking for sour notes akin to vinegar or medicinal scents similar to nail polish remover. Remember, if it smells bad, it probably is bad. The weird nutty aromas that develop are unmistakable. In the worst cases, spoiled wine can smell like rotten eggs, a wet dog, or a musty basement.

When wine is exposed to oxygen, bacteria begin to grow and produce acetic acid and acetaldehyde. In these cases, do yourself a favor and just pour it down the drain.

What Does Bad Wine Taste Like?

This is a question that you shouldn’t want to know the answer to, but for the sake of thoroughness, we’ll answer it so that you don’t have to drink the spoilage and find out the hard way.

Bad wine typically tastes bitter or sour. Think apple cider vinegar. It is not a pleasurable experience to drink bad wine because the oxidation ruins the flavor in just a few days after opening. After a week, it can become so pungent that it creates a burning sensation in your nasal passages and throat.


As a rule of thumb, once a bottle of wine is uncorked, its shelf life is 2 to 3 days when refrigerated. If you’re unsure about its health, err on the side of caution, toss it out, and treat yourself to a new bottle.

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