5 Best Tips On How To Tell If Unopened Wine Is Bad

Can wine go wrong? Many of us like to drink wine, but not everybody knows how much wine takes, how to store it, or how to tell if it is bad. To help, here are some of the best tips on how to tell if unopened wine is bad!

How Long Does Wine Last?

how to tell if unopened wine is bad

Many people have heard that wine lasts indefinitely, but that’s not true, unfortunately. As long as the wine bottle is unopened and properly stored, it can be stored for years. If your wine is very good, you may keep it for many years in your cellar, and it is good if you store it correctly.

If, on the other hand, it’s a normal or even very cheap wine, it shouldn’t be maintained long enough – it’s a good idea to use it in a year or two.

If wine is kept unopened, it is aged. The better the wine, the longer it may age, as I mentioned earlier. Wine aging is a process that affects the taste of the wine but does not do it badly. That’s why certain wines are highly valuable – they have been kept for some time and have developed a great, distinctive taste.

If you plan to store an unopened wine bottle for more than a couple weeks, keep it lying. This moisturizes the cork all the time and will not shrink or develop minuscule holes. When cork gets worse and begins to let air into the bottle, wine stops aging and starts to get worse. Finally, it’s going to go bad.

How Long Does Unopened Wine Last?

how to tell if unopened wine is bad

The answer to this question is based on two main factors. It is the type of wine and the conditions under which it has been stored. Overall, the shelf life of an unopened bottle is much longer than an opened. After all, wine is designed to last for a long time. 

This is the whole point of fermenting grapes and, first of all, allowing the alcohol to develop. When the grapes are fermented, the yeast is added and turned into alcohol to break down the sugar. This helps to maintain the juice in two ways.

First, the reduced sugar content does not feed bacteria so much, making the spoiling process more time-consuming. Secondly, the addition of all of this alcohol makes survival much more difficult for most bacteria, including spoilage. 

This two-stroke preservation allows early vintners to ship their fine wines worldwide and keep their products delicious in a ship’s hold after many months.

Do Unopened Wines Go Bad?

how to tell if unopened wine is bad

Yes, wines that are not opened or even properly stored can go bad. Do you know how to tell if unopened wine is bad?

There are a few ways to tell if your eyes can make the unopened wine bad! Here are a few visual indications about whether a bottle of wine could be bad before it opens.

Take a look at the top of the wine bottle. Is the cork top flush with the opening of the bottle? Or is it raised from the bottle or lowered from the bottle? Raised or sunken corks can indicate that wine during shipment or storage was exposed to high temperatures or pressure changes.

Just as some beers in clear bottles, wine in a clear bottle can be “skunky” and smooth if exposed to light for a prolonged period. If you are shopping for wine, then consider passing the bottle for a new vintage, and the Sauvignon Blanc bottle is a bit dusty, and it is over three years old.

More Information

Wines in clear bottles are intended to be released within 1-2 years. However, exceptions in the world of wine always exist, as some aging wines come in clear bottles.

Ullage is just a fancy term in a bottle of wine for ‘headspace.’ If the wine is rather young, no ullage should exist, and the level of a bottle of wine should be the same as similar wines on the shelf.

When you find the cork dry and breakable when you open a bottle of wine, you are more likely to have a bad bottle. However, the nose and taste buds must be involved to determine this. 

There is a good chance that if the cork shrank, oxygen could get past the cork and into the wine. We opened a few old boxes with broken corks with concern and found the portion of cork close to the wine to be just fine and the wine to taste fantastic.

How To Tell If Unopened Wine Is Bad

how to tell if unopened wine is bad

There are important things you should know about how to tell if unopened wine is bad. Check the cork’s position before you do anything else. If it slightly rushes from the top of the bottle, it signifies that the wine may have suffered heat damage, which means its flavors are not as fruity and delicate as they should be.

But a raised cork is also a sign that the cellar could have improperly sealed the bottle. While this is mostly a problem for companies using cheap or synthetic cork, even the most expensive wines in the world can occasionally have this problem.

A bad seal looks like the cork has too much space around it, or it’s so tight that you can’t pull it off the bottle. In the first case, the wine will be oxidized prematurely, too much oxygen will leak too quickly into the bottle, making the wine’s age and spoiling very quickly. 

In the second case, the contrary occurs. With the firm seal, the wine does not receive enough oxygen and prevents it from slowly aging and developing new flavors. While these are telltale signs of bad wine, you should still open the flask to confirm your suspicions.

How To Tell If Unopened Wine Is Bad: Simple Signs

how to tell if unopened wine is bad

Here are some signs on how to tell if unopened wine is bad. Some of these, you can also apply to opened wine bottles!

1. The color is browner than what you expect.

If white wine is exposed to air, it becomes browner. When red wine is oxidized, it loses its bright red or violet colors and looks brown. This is natural and expected in aged wines, both white and red. 

However, if your wine is young – just 1 or 2 years old, this can be a sign that the wine is overly airy. The bottle was open for a couple of days or could have been in the winery or during the bottling process.

2. When it’s not okay, the wine has bubbles.

If you expect that the wine is quiet and comes with a bit of fizz, it is a warning that there is some kind of fermentation in the bottle. Not a good thing. Not a good thing. Ask for another bottle, although it’s time to try another wine if the second bottle has the same problems.

If you’re home and there’s no more wine, you have a bigger problem—time for cellar storage. But for the time being, your unexpected sparkling wine will not hurt.

3. It smells like a wet dog or a wet carton.

These aromas are linked to cork or the “corked” wine. It is an indication that at some point, the cork had a mold growing on it, which left a chemical known as TCA in the cork. The mold may be long gone, but even small TCA quantities can give wine negative tastes.

This can vary from bottle to bottle so that you can ask for a fresh bottle. The new bottle will taste completely different if it is the last one corked. It won’t hurt you to drink a corked wine, but it may not be very pleasant, depending on the level of a doggy / cardboardy taste.

4. It smells like sweets or a garden.

A little barnyard in small doses can make the wine more complex and not necessarily bad. But if all you smell is band-aid or farm animals, wine is a problem. This is generally the result of yeast called Brettanomyces or ‘brett’ and is a sign of poor hygiene in the winery even if the grapes themselves can come from it.

Once again, it will not harm people, but the bad news is that the entire batch of wine probably will have the same problems. Here’s not going to help grab a fresh bottle.

5. It smells like a nail polish remover or vinegar.

A sign that acetic acid bacteria are active for a fault known as volatile acidity or VA in your wine. Like, brett, a little VA can add complexity and be a good thing, but it becomes a fault if it dominates. Nevertheless, you won’t harm drinking it, although it can give sensations burning in sensitive people.

Final Words

Wine could go bad. If stored incorrectly, it can go wrong, even if it is unopened. It should be used within a few days once it is opened. Otherwise, this will go bad as well.

Quality wines can last many years, but cheap wines should not be stored for a few years. Before you label your wine as spoiled, remember that even if it has been fully stored, older wines may seem to have some qualities of spoiled wine. 

Ancient wines naturally lose some of their bold fruit tastes over time, taking on savory notes such as leather or spice. The flavors of fruits may also fade and start tasting less like fresh fruits than dried versions. If you taste these aromas, it is a sign that your wine is well-aged.

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