Can wine go bad? All wines go bad with time. Unlike hard liquors that have a high enough alcohol content to be extremely stable, even the very best wines will eventually spoil. If exposed to extreme heat, any wine can be destroyed in just a few hours.
Per leading wine storage experts at Fine Wine Reserve, nearly all wine available today is ready to drink. Every grape responds to soil conditions, growing season temperatures, and water access.
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Each grape variety has individual characteristics that will either lend themselves to aging, or not. Even with particular attention to storage, many wines are not made better by time.
If you prefer to buy wines by the case and want to store unopened bottles in the best way, optimum conditions include:
- keeping the bottles out of direct sunlight.
- keeping a steady temperature between 40 - 65 degrees Fahrenheit, or 4 - 18 degrees Celsius
- keeping the humidity levels at least 50%.
In these conditions, wine should keep safely from eight to twelve months. If temperature and humidity can't be confirmed, you may be facing spoilage within just a few months.
Does Wine Expire?
Since wine is sold ready to drink, the clock is ticking as soon as you buy the bottle.
Additionally, if your retailer has not kept the bottles at a consistent temperature, the expiration date may be fast approaching.
Per experts at Solis Winery, quoted in Wine Country, any bottle that has a cork slightly pushed out of the bottle was either improperly bottled or was exposed to heat.
If you purchase a bottle and find it tastes musty or bitter, discard the wine and find a new retailer. Also review the position of wine bottles in relation to windows, as sunlight is destructive to wine.
Wine displays may look pretty in the window, but you'll want to pick your bottle further back in the stacks.
Can Wine Go Bad?
Once the bottle is opened, Anucyia Victor with the Daily Mail gives the following timeline for refrigerated wines, properly stoppered:
- Sparkling wine, 1 - 3 days
- Light white and rose', 5 - 7 days
- Full-bodied whites like Chardonnay and Viognier, 3 - 5 days
All red wines can be kept corked in a cool, dark storage area for 3 - 5 days. Victor strongly recommends investing in vacuum caps to protect your wines from the oxidation damage done once exposed to air.
When storing uncorked wine, be aware that the less acidic the wine is, the shorter the time you have to drink it.
When Does Wine Go Bad?
If stored properly, drunk within a year of purchase, and stored safely, you should not experience any problems. If the wine does taste or smell sour, musty, or bitter, it has stopped being wine and started to become vinegar. Discard it.
Per experts at Live Strong it will not cause the bacterial over-growth known as food poisoning, but vinegar is highly acidic and will not be kind to your stomach. It will also taste awful.
Mass-produced wine is sold at its most drinkable. Once it's opened, you have about three days to seal, store and finish it.
If you're interested in building a wine collection to store for enhanced flavor, you'll need a specialized storage area to maintain the correct temperature and humidity.
Where Did Wine Come From?
The agricultural challenge of food storage over time resulted in the happy accident we now know as wine. Approximately 7,000 years ago, grapes were stored in a vessel. They were biologically acted upon by yeast, and the resulting drink was better tasting (and longer lasting) than grape juice.
Once the accident was discovered, farmers set out to make it happen again. As the wine-making process became more consistent, nomadic peoples took grape vines with them when they moved.
Per experts at the US National Library of Medicine, housed at the National Institutes of Health grapes were one of the earliest cultivated crops. The oldest wine-producing grapes were grown around 6,000 B.C. in the country now known as Georgia, between the Caspian and Black Seas.
Over the following centuries, grape vines were planted in Iran, Lebanon, Italy, Northern Europe, and finally to Australia and the United States.