How to Tell If Open Wine Is Bad

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Estimated reading time: 2 min

Sometimes people open a bottle of wine and they are unable to finish it. They might put it aside for another day. Life goes on and they forget how long the wine has been open. Nobody wants to throw away a perfectly good, although partial, bottle of wine so the natural question is how to know if it is still good. There are a few different ways to examine the wine and make this determination. Continue reading to learn how to tell if open wine is bad.

How Does the Wine Look?

The first thing you can do is examine the wine with your eyes. If you are an experienced wine drinker, you know that red wine should have a purple hue; if it looks brown, this is a bad sign. White wine may change from being crystal clear to somewhat opaque. You will want to see wine that is clear with its original color mostly there.

You can also look at the wine itself to see how cloudy it is. Wine that has gone bad will become cloudy and you may see sediment in the bottle. If you are concerned about the way that your wine looks, you should move on to the next step.

How Does it Smell?

Sometimes wine goes bad because of chemical changes that occur when it is exposed to oxygen or heat. There is a bacteria in alcohol that converts it to acetic acid, which is similar to vinegar. When you smell the wine, look for an acidic smell. You also might smell sharp odors or something that smells like sulfur. Wine should smell good and if you notice a bad, sharp, or rotten egg smell, you probably don’t want to drink it.

How Does the Wine Taste?

If you have examined the wine and smelled the wine and you are brave enough to taste it, the flavor will let you know if the wine has gone bad. It won’t make you sick; it will just taste bad. If the wine is going bad, you might taste sour or sharp flavors that aren’t normally there. Instead of being full and smooth, the wine may taste oxidized. It may have a duller fruit taste to it. If you know how wine should taste, you will have no trouble recognizing wine that has gone bad.

If you find that the wine has gone bad, you will probably need to throw it out. Wine can last for a few days after you open it but if you let it go for too long, it will probably go bad. In a perfect world, you will be able to keep wine for two to three days after you open it. Some wine will last a little longer but it is really impossible to know until you open it.

The best way to keep it is to recork it and put it in the refrigerator. The important thing is to limit its exposure to oxygen, light, and heat. All three of these items interact with the wine to ruin the taste. Red wine can last as long as five days if you put the cork back in. Sparkling wine only lasts two to three days before it goes flat. If the wine was already unstable, it can go bad in just a day.

If you lose the cork or are unable to put it back in, you can take some plastic wrap and cover the top. Then you can place a rubber band around it. This will help to create a seal and slow the oxidation process. You can also buy wine stoppers for this purpose. The key is to reduce the exposure of the wine to oxygen, heat, and light. This way, it will last as long as possible so that you can finish your wine another day.

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