Here's How To Tell If That Bottle Of Wine In Your Fridge Is Actually Bad

There's nothing like a tall glass of wine after a long day of work, on a girls' night out, or while catching up with friends. Wine is a tasty alcoholic beverage that's pretty versatile and also so easy to "make." It gives the alcoholic content of a cocktail without any of the hassles of mixers or putting it all together. Wine also makes great gifts during the holidays, for a housewarming, or for a birthday.


Not everyone drinks alcohol. But for those who do, sometimes you need to open a few wine bottles at once because of a party or because you want to have a variety at your disposal. Or maybe you like to have a small glass after work to unwind and welcome the evening. Whatever the case is, if wine is a go-to drink, odds are you keep it in your fridge when you're not drinking it. Hopefully, your wine will stay good for a bit if you're properly closing it or corking it. But even sealing it tight won't stop it from going bad eventually. So, how are you supposed to know when your wine is no longer good to drink? Here are some tips.

When does wine go bad?

First off, wine can last a while if it's unopened. According to Medical News Today, white wine and rosé last anywhere between one and two years past the expiration date on the bottle, with red wine lasting two to three years. Sparkling wine you might buy at the grocery store lasts three to four years. Thinking of unopened wine might take your mind to that massive wine collection Annie and Hallie's dad had in "The Parent Trap" and the fact that some wines were there for decades. A wine that can last decades before going bad is called fortified or vintage wine. Vintage sparkling wine lasts from five to 10 years.


But opened wine bottles hanging out in your fridge is a whole different story. After you open up a bottle of wine, those years turn into just a few days at best. A good rule of thumb — before you start guessing if an opened bottle of wine is safe to drink — is to remember how long certain kinds last. Medical News Today reported that sparkling wine goes bad the fastest, within a day or two. White wine and rosé go bad between three and five days in the fridge and red wine is three to six days. That fortified wine that might be from decades ago goes bad within one to three weeks.

What are the other signs a wine is bad?

If you're unsure how long an opened bottle has been in the fridge, or you want to see if you can still drink it, Wine Folly notes to first look at its appearance. Is the wine cloudy or does it leave a film on the sides of the bottle or the glass when you slosh it around? Those are signs that there has been some spoilage due to microbial growth. Also, if a wine starts to change to a brown color, it points to oxidation. A wine that's past its prime may also look bubbly like Champagne or Prosecco.


If you sniff the wine and it has a chemical-like smell, like nail polish remover, you obviously don't want to drink it. Not that you'd be able to stomach something like that anyway. And lastly, just like the smell, if you taste wine that's gone bad, it won't be drinkable. It will be sour, like vinegar. Medical News Today also notes that a sip of bad wine will probably irritate your nostrils as well. So, again, it won't be an enjoyable experience.

What happens if you drink bad wine?

According to Medical News Today, anytime you open a bottle of wine, you're allowing it to oxidize. Once that cork is out, the air causes the wine to begin oxidizing which is what makes it eventually spoil. This is, of course, why it's important to tightly seal the bottle if you're done, but there's still wine inside. This also stops any other bacteria from getting into your wine, which can sour it further and faster.


With that said, if you drink wine that has started to oxidize, you're most likely not going to get sick. It might smell off and not taste the best (depending on how far along the wine is in the oxidation process), but it won't make you ill. However, if it's gone bad because of microbes, that's when food poisoning can happen. You know, the typical food poisoning experience of vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. While this isn't common, it's still important to consider. 

Basically, all experts agree that you should just throw wine away if you suspect it's bad. If you know the bottle was left open too long allowing bacteria to get in, or it smells or tastes sour, you're better off disposing of it too. Buying tight, reusable corks and closing wine bottles right away when you're not using them will decrease the risk of bacterial contamination and keep your wine fresher for longer.