Can Drinking Spoiled Wine Make You Sick?

Wine is meant to age, or at least that's the common misconception. Only 2% of grocery store wines are suitable for aging thanks to high acidity or tannins, claims Usual Wines. What's more, aging only applies to unopened bottles of wine, which is why you might want to think twice before pouring a glass from a bottle that's been lingering. While it might seem harmless — aside from the mouth-puckering effect — could drinking spoiled wine actually make you sick?

In general, Wine Folly states that if a wine bottle is open for too long, it'll start to lose its fruity flavors and aromas. Some indicators that wine is past its prime include changes in color, smell, and composition. For example, both red and white wines can develop a brownish hue because of contact with oxygen, explains Vivino. Likewise, Food & Wine shares that wine might develop aromas of vinegar or even barnyard. But the most obvious sign that wine has gone bad is the presence of bubbles or cloudiness, suggesting microbial activity, according to Wine Folly.

Although rare, drinking spoiled wine can make you sick

It's common knowledge that overconsumption of alcohol can make you feel ill, which is why the CDC recommends drinking in moderation to avoid short and long-term health risks. But what about drinking a reasonable amount of wine that has "spoiled"?

Wine Spectator explains that although wine loses quality because of oxidation, since alcohol acts as a preservative (and one with antimicrobial properties), it wouldn't likely be a danger. However, rare exceptions do exist. Although highly unlikely, Medical News Today reports that a bottle of opened wine can come into contact with bacteria and microbes due to improper storage, resulting in sickness. Rare, but still a possibility, symptoms would be similar to that of food poisoning.

To better understand the expiration date on wine, MasterClass suggests keeping sparkling wines for 1-3 days, rosé and light-bodied whites for 5-7 days, full-bodied whites for 3-5 days, light-bodied reds for 2-3 days, medium to full-bodied reds 3-6 days and lastly, fortified wines can keep for a whopping 28 days — just don't forget to store all opened wines in the fridge.

But if you're unlikely to drink a bottle within the timeframe of freshness, put it to use in the kitchen. Bon Appétit advises using leftover wine to braise and marinate meats, freeze for future recipes, or even make a wine spritzer!