What Happens If You Drink Bad Wine?

Sometimes all you want to do after getting home from a long day is pop open a bottle of wine and relax.

Wine could be a nice way to unwind after a long day, but sometimes wine doesn’t turn out as we expect, and it could be bad.

There have been numerous cases of people drinking bad wines and experiencing less than satisfying results without knowing why or how.

So, what exactly is bad wine, why is it bad, and what effects does it have on the body? There are many misconceptions online, and many do not fully understand the scope and its effects.

We’ll clear out all the misconceptions about bad wines, teach you all you need to know about them, and possibly answer any questions you might have.

Shelf Life of Wine

Fermentation is the natural process of producing wine, and just like liquor and beer, wine can also get bad. However, rather than cereals or other plants, wines are always prepared from grapes. Grape stems and seeds are sometimes used to enhance the flavor depending on the type of wine and brand.

Some wines are stored for months or years in casks or barrels to enhance their flavor. You should enjoy cheap wines within two years of bottling, but some great wines can improve considerably with age. You should know this difference and be able to differentiate when discussing bad wine.

You should enjoy organic wines within 3–6 months of purchase, especially if they are made without any preservatives like sulfites.

Heat and light is a major factor in the flavor and quality of the wine. As a result, you should keep it away from direct sunlight in a cool and dry area. Corked wine, unlike liquor and beer, should be stored on its side. A wine that is properly preserved can last for several years.

When wine is opened, it is exposed to oxygen, which considerably speeds up the aging process. For the finest flavor, you should consume most wines within 3–7 days of opening. Between pours, make sure to cork them and store them in the fridge for later use.

Fortified wines also have a distilled spirit added to them in the production process. An example of this distilled spirit typically added to wines is brandy. If you store these fortified wines properly, they can last up to 28 days after opening, just like boxed wines.

Sparkling wines have the lowest shelf life, and you should consume them as soon as possible after opening to ensure maximum carbonation. Refrigerate them with an airtight wine stopper to increase their shelf life. Also, make sure to finish the bottle in a maximum of 3 days.

Relate Read: The Most Expensive Wine In The World

Difference Between Faulty and Flawed Wine

There’s a thin line between a faulty and a flawed wine. It is important to know the differences before tagging a wine as bad and deciding if you will like it. You can use straightforward techniques to spot a faulty or flawed wine gotten from the Wine Research Institute. However, before we get into their fragrances and flavors, we will describe the differences between a faulty and flawed wine in a straightforward and easy-to-understand approach.

A flaw is generally a small difference from what is regarded as normal wine characteristics. Comparing it to how humans perceive taste, we understand that not everyone perceives taste the same way is unrealistic. So, those small differences in humans that make us unique can be regarded as flaws. However, a flaw becomes a fault when it gets so prevalent that it becomes all you can taste.

Why do Faults Happen?

There are many reasons why faults occur, and they are all too technical for casual wine drinkers or lovers. Not only that, but the ability to detect these faults or flaws is entirely subjective and dependent on the consumer’s taste preferences or their previous wine experience.

Wine faults are internal defects and are related to the winemaking or fermentation process. Wine flaws, on the other hand, are caused by outside influences.

An example of a flaw could be the result of a botched winemaking process or bad storage conditions. It could also be the result of improper sanitation during the winemaking process and too much or too little oxygen or sulfur exposure. It’s possible that the winemaker utilized soiled wine casks or corks of inferior quality. These causes are so many, so it is not something to bother about.

A fault determined by an external source, on the other hand, could occur when a shop exposes their wine in direct sunlight or stores it improperly or even serves wine from dirty glasses.

Whatever the case may be, a flaw can be merely a quirk in the wine’s characteristics, whereas a fault can render the wine unfit to consume.

How To Tell If a Wine is Bad?

How To Tell If a Wine is Bad

Here are a couple of ways you can find out if a wine is bad:

Color Variations

The color of the wine is the first thing that a person notices after uncorking it. If the color appears to have changed since you first opened the bottle, it could be a sign of spoilage.

A bad red wine, for example, might have a brownish tint, whilst a bad white wine might deepen or turn a deep yellow or brownish straw color. It is important to be aware of these changes and notice them quickly before drinking the wine.

Changes in Odor

If a wine has gone bad, distinct scents may be detectable. A strong, vinegar-like odor, a wet odor, or a barnyard-like odor are all possibilities. If you notice any unpleasant smell, it may be better not to drink it at all.

The smell of the wine can also change if it has become stale. Some individuals think stale wine smells like nuts, while others believe it smells like burnt marshmallows or applesauce. It depends on the perspective and experience of the individual.

Some wine may spoil before it is opened, which is usually due to a flaw in the wine. A faulty wine may have a garlic odor or cabbage, or burnt rubber odor.

Taste Alterations

A wine that has gone rotten should not be consumed. However, in some cases, sampling a small amount of wine is an excellent approach to see if it’s still safe to drink.

If a wine has gone bad, the flavor may have changed. Bad wine has a harsh, sour taste that is similar to vinegar. Due to the intense odor and flavor, it may also mildly burn a person’s nasal tube.

If the wine has gone bad, it may have a distinct chemical flavor that reminds you of paint thinner. Only take a small amount and if it isn’t pleasant, discard the wine.

Wine With Excess Bubbles

The presence of bubbles in a still wine indicates that it is fermenting. This happens when there isn’t enough sterilizing, and that means yeasts are still active in the wine. If you notice this in a wine bottle, it isn’t safe for drinking, and you should set it aside for a while to see if it will change. After a prolonged period, if it still remains the same, leave the wine bottle.

Cork that has Come Loose or has Leaked

Heat damage may be indicated if the cork is loose or significantly leaking. This damage is visible above the rim if you inspect the wine bottle properly. This damage may create minor changes in the wine’s fragrance and flavor, dulling its appearance and taste. Inspect all your wine bottles properly before drinking.

Health Issues Associated with Drinking Bad Wine

If you drink small amounts of bad wine, you might not experience any consequences. That is why we suggested tasting it a little before pouring it out. However, if you drink large amounts of bad wine, you may get exposed to some risks depending on your body’s physiology.

As explained before, wine spoilage is because of oxidation and could turn the wine into vinegar. This is unpleasant to the mouth, but it is unlikely to cause any harm to your body. The one you should get worried about is spoilage as a result of microbes.

When microbes cause spoilage in a wine, this makes the wine bad and could cause food poisoning. These cases are rare but possible in some scenarios. You might start to exhibit some symptoms of food poisoning such as:

  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Fever
  • Nausea

If you notice any of these symptoms, it could be a result of bad wine, and you should visit a doctor as soon as possible.

How To Store Your Wine To Prevent Spoilage?

If you want to prevent wine spoilage from your collection, use the following storage techniques:

Keep in a Dark and Cool Place.

You should keep all your wines in a cool area with a consistent temperature. Irregular temperature changes can affect the overall quality of the wine and change its taste. Also, you should protect it from light and keep it in the dark place where sunlight and ultraviolet rays cannot get to it.

The best solution is to have a designated area in your house where you store these wines that meet up with the temperature and light requirements.

Store Wine Bottles That Have Corks Horizontally

When you store a bottle on its side, the wine is in constant touch with the cork, which keeps it from drying out. If the cork dries out, it may allow oxygen into the bottle, causing the wine to deteriorate.

This sort of deterioration only affects wines in corked bottles. Thus bottles with a screw-top can be stored upright.

Keep an eye out for corked bottles and give them extra attention. It might be better to keep corked bottles together in the same place for easy storage.

Keep the Proper Humidity in the Area

Humidity levels that are too low or high can also harm a wine and damage it. According to anecdotal data, relative humidity of roughly 60% is ideal for wine preservation, so you should always strive to attain that.

The cork may dry out if the humidity is too low, allowing oxygen to enter the bottle and spoil the wine. As we’ve earlier explained, oxygen is not good for wines and will cause them to spoil. If the humidity is too high, mold can form, and any wine labels would deteriorate.

Regularly check the humidity levels of your wine storage condition and ensure they’re at optimal levels.

Consider Purchasing a Wine Refrigerator.

If a person does not have access to a handy storage location that is dark, cool, and damp, you may want to consider investing in a wine fridge.

These refrigerators, sometimes known as wine coolers, are not as cold as conventional refrigerators and help keep wine at the proper temperature and humidity for storage. Investing in a wine fridge isn’t expensive and could be a long-term investment, especially if you’re a wine lover.


Wines have varying lifespans, and it may be difficult to accurately determine and give a date to when it will spoil. It is better to leave wines unopened because they can last for longer periods, which could be years when there’s no exposure to oxygen.

After you’ve opened a wine, oxygen gets in, and it is only a couple of days before it spills. To be safe, always take a little sip of wine first before drinking to ascertain the condition and quality before drinking it whole.

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