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There are many clues that you can look for to determine if wine has gone bad. So, the next time you need to determine if your wine is okay to drink, evaluate it using the following tips:


Wine that has gone bad can change in appearance from when you first opened it.


When a clear wine goes cloudy it can be an indicator of bacteria in the wine and that it has gone bad.

Change in color

Wine can go brown similar to how an apple browns from oxidation. So, for example, if your wine was ruby red when opened and now looks brown, it can be an indication of oxidative stress. Wine ‘browning’ in itself is not bad – lots of ‘tawny’ wines have a brown tinge to begin with and taste wonderful.


A flat wine developing bubbles can mean the wine has soured due to a second fermentation in the bottle.


Wines that have gone bad will often develop unpleasant or different smells such as:

  • sharp, vinegar-like smell
  • burnt, nutty or caramel smell
  • garbage, cabbage smell


Wine that has gone bad is safe to taste, but it probably won’t be a pleasant experience. An off wine may have:

  • a sharp, vinegar-like flavor.
  • a sweet, caramelized flavor.

Faulty wine

Unopened wines can also go bad if they have a wine fault. A fault is a defect that occurs from natural issues, incorrect winemaking practices, or storage errors. You can detect wine faults from unusual flavors or aromas, similar to how you would in a wine that has already been opened. Faulty wines can also smell musty or like damp cardboard.

Does drinking bad wine make you sick?

No, bad wine won’t make you sick. It just won’t taste very nice.