What Happens If You Drink Expired Wine

Regrettably, we’re talking about spoiled wine. As a wine enthusiast, I cannot overstate how important it is to enjoy wine when it’s at its best. But what happens if you accidentally end up with a bottle of wine that’s past its prime? Let’s explore this topic and look into the effects of drinking wine that has gone bad, all the while sharing some personal stories and reflections.

Picture this, you’ve invited some friends over for a cozy evening and decide to crack open that special bottle of wine you’ve been saving for a memorable occasion. As you pour the wine into the glass, you notice a peculiar aroma, perhaps a musty smell or an unpleasant vinegar-like scent. You take a sip, and instead of the delightful flavors you were expecting, your taste buds are met with an unfortunate bitterness.

This is a classic case of drinking expired wine. Now, I must confess, I’ve had my fair share of encounters with expired wine. It’s not a pleasant experience, to say the least. Drinking expired wine can lead to a range of undesirable outcomes, both in terms of taste and potential health risks.

1. Flavor and Aroma

Wine is a delicate beverage that evolves over time, and when consumed past its expiration date, it undergoes some profound changes. One of the first indicators of expired wine is the change in aroma. Instead of the pleasant bouquet you would expect, you might encounter off-putting smells like wet cardboard, vinegar, or even nail polish remover.

As for the taste, expired wine often loses its fruity and vibrant flavors, leaving behind a flat and lifeless palate. It might taste excessively tart, sour, or even bitter, making it difficult to enjoy. In some cases, the wine can become downright undrinkable, which is a heartbreaking experience when it’s a bottle you’ve been eagerly waiting to savor.

2. Health Risks

While the taste and aroma of expired wine are off-putting, there is also a potential health risk associated with consuming it. The primary concern is the presence of harmful bacteria that can thrive in improperly stored or expired wine. These bacteria can cause food poisoning-like symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Additionally, if wine is stored in a cork-sealed bottle, there is a possibility of cork taint, which occurs when a chemical compound called TCA contaminates the wine. Drinking wine contaminated with TCA can result in an unpleasant taste and can also cause headaches or allergic reactions in some individuals.

3. How to Avoid Drinking Expired Wine

Now that we’ve explored the consequences of drinking expired wine, let’s discuss some tips to help you avoid this unfortunate situation. Firstly, always check the bottle for any visible signs of spoilage, such as a bulging cork or leakage. These can be clear indicators that the wine has gone bad.

Secondly, pay attention to the wine’s color and clarity. If the wine appears cloudy or has changed color significantly, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid consuming it.

Lastly, familiarize yourself with the recommended shelf life of different types of wine. While most wines are best enjoyed within a few years of their vintage, some age gracefully for decades. Understanding the aging potential of a particular wine can help you determine whether it’s still suitable for consumption.


In conclusion, drinking expired wine is not a pleasurable experience. The flavors and aromas you once loved can become unrecognizable, and there are potential health risks associated with consuming wine that has gone bad. It’s crucial to be mindful of the shelf life of your wine and look for any signs of spoilage before indulging in a glass. After all, a good wine experience should be savored and cherished, and that’s something I’m sure we can all raise our glasses to.