Aging Wine and Its Effects: Can Old Wine Make You Sick? (2024)

Wine lovers get excited by the prospect of aging wine. We love the idea of buying something and then watching as the value increases year after year. But can old wine make you sick?

In this article we take a look at the do’s and don'ts of wine aging and storage, to help you to decide whether you should drink that mysterious, dusty old bottle you’ve discovered in the basem*nt.

Whether you’re unsure about a bottle you’ve tried to age, or want to know if the opened bottle of wine you left in the fridge last night is safe to drink today, we'll guide you through everything you need to know.

Why You Shouldn’t Age All Wine

Contrary to popular belief, not all wine benefits from aging. In fact, it’s actually a very small percentage that does — a meager 2% of wines produced will be suitable for aging.

The problem is, many wine lovers romanticize the idea of keeping an extra special bottle for a suitable occasion. Then when the big birthday or wedding arrives, the wine they’ve been carefully hoarding is spoiled and undrinkable.

Most wines are produced to be drunk straight away. After a year of so on your shelf, that bottle you’ve been saving for your 20th wedding anniversary will start to decline in quality, dull in color and even start to taste like vinegar.

As most bottles of wine are sealed with a cork, within time the cork will deteriorate, and oxygen will begin to seep into the wine. This causes oxidation, which is bad news for your wine.

Our advice? Drink your store-bought wine soon after buying it. Chances are it won’t be suitable for aging, so don’t risk it. However, if you really want to buy a bottle for aging we have a few pieces of advice.

The Best Wine to Age

If you’ve got your heart set on buying a bottle of wine to age, there’s a few things to look out for:

  • Buy a wine with high levels of acidity. Acid Is essential for a well-balanced wine. Without it wine can taste dull and “flabby.” Because acid deteriorates over time, be sure to pick a highly acidic wine to age.
  • Look for a wine that is high in tannins. Tannins are natural preservers of color and flavor, so they will help to protect your wine as it ages.
  • Dessert wines, sweet wines, and those just high in sugar are good options to age too. The high sugar content is a great preserver — kind of like how it works with homemade jams and jellies.
  • Watch out for volatile acids. These can throw off your aging hopes. Acetic acid is a naturally occuring acid found in wine. While its presence is no bad thing, it’s also considered a volatile acid, so ask your sommelier about the VA levels of the wine before buying.
  • Finally, wines with very high levels of alcohol are suitable for aging. Think wines over 15% ABV, like Port.

How To Tell If Wine Has Gone Bad

Can old wine make you sick? No, not really. There’s nothing too horrific lurking in poorly aged wine that would have you running to the emergency room. However, the liquid that could come out of that bottle may make you feel sick from the color and smell alone. The taste will also be very unpleasant.

If you have aged a bottle of wine, you may want to give it a thorough once-over before pouring yourself a glass. Look out for these key signs your wine has gone bad.


If a bottle of red wine like Pinot Noir or Merlot has gone bad, those lovely purple hues will have started to change. When left to its own devices, red wine can go a murky brown. When white wines go bad their pale yellow colors turn to darker, golden hues.


Upon opening your bottle, be sure to give it a quick sniff before pouring. If your wine is “corked” or suffering from “cork taint” it will give off the smell of wet cardboard or even wet dog.

Your nose can also tell you if the wine may have oxidized. Look out for sharp acidic smells, similar to nail polish remover.


Finally, if you’re brave enough, you can sip it to find out how the wine tastes. Wine that has gone bad may feel “flabby” in the mouth, the flavors may be much sharper and the general experience may be dull and uninspired.

The Best Way to Store Wine

Aging Wine and Its Effects: Can Old Wine Make You Sick? (1)

To make sure your wine doesn’t fall victim to this fate, learn to properly store your wine. We have a lot of tips on wine storage, but here’s a few to keep in mind:

Keep Your Bottles Horizontal

Leaving your bottle upright may lead to your cork drying out. A dry cork is more likely to let oxygen into the wine, thus oxidizing it and ruining the subtle flavors.

Investing in a good wine rack is an easy way to keep your bottles horizontal.

Keep Temperatures Low and Constant

Wine hates changes in temperature. Opt for a cool, dark place away from sunlight when storing your wine.

Beware of Vibrations

If wine was a person it would be a very sensitive soul. It hates too much movement, as this can disturb the sediment and cause premature aging. Keep your collection away from loud speakers and off of a rattling fridge, and try your best not to shake them.

Can Old Wine Make You Sick If the Bottle Is Left Open?

Drinking an already-opened bottle of wine will not make you sick. You can usually leave it for at least a few days before the wine starts to taste different.

However, we wouldn’t advise you push this too far. Pouring yourself a glass from a bottle that's been open for longer than a week may leave you with an unpleasant taste in your mouth.

To give open wine bottles a longer life you should put both red and white wines in the fridge. It’s also a good idea to try to put the cork back into the bottle or invest in a good wine stopper. This will form a seal over the mouth of the bottle, and hopefully keep oxygen out.

Drink Wine How It Was Intended: Fresh and Young

Aging Wine and Its Effects: Can Old Wine Make You Sick? (2)

Hopefully we have calmed your nerves about drinking old wine. While it may not taste amazing, drinking wine that's past its heyday will not hurt you.

Remember, you’re better off not trying to age your wine. So few bottles benefit from aging and you could end up ruining a perfectly good bottle. If you’re desperate to give it a try, look out for wines that are high in acid, alcohol, tannins, and sugar, and store them properly.

Better yet, reach for a fresh glass of wine every time. With a unique single-serve glass bottle of Usual Wines, you’ll always pop open a fresh serving of Red, Rose, or Brut.

Aging Wine and Its Effects: Can Old Wine Make You Sick? (2024)


Aging Wine and Its Effects: Can Old Wine Make You Sick? ›

Drinking old wine probably won't make you sick. It's possible that there may be foodborne pathogens hiding in a glass of bad wine, but the chance of coming down with food poisoning from bad wine is rare. It's more likely that the experience will be unpleasant than harmful to your health.

Can old wine make you feel sick? ›

Typically, wine spoilage occurs due to oxidation, meaning that the wine may turn to vinegar. Although it may taste unpleasant, it is unlikely to cause harm. However, spoilage due to microbes may result in food poisoning. This type of spoilage is rare but possible.

Can old fortified wine make you sick? ›

Can Old Wine Make You Sick If the Bottle Is Left Open? Drinking an already-opened bottle of wine will not make you sick. You can usually leave it for at least a few days before the wine starts to taste different.

What happens if you age wine too long? ›

If a wine is aged for too long, it will start to descend into decrepitude where the fruit tastes hollow and weak while the wine's acidity becomes dominant. The natural esterification that takes place in wines and other alcoholic beverages during the aging process is an example of acid-catalysed esterification.

Is it safe to drink year old wine? ›

How Long Does Wine Typically Last? When stored properly and kept unopened, white wines can often outlive their recommended drinking window by 1-2 years, red wines by 2-3 years, and cooking wines by 3-5 years. Fine wine — as you may have guessed — can typically be consumed for decades.

Why does wine suddenly make me feel sick? ›

Feeling sick after just one drink could also mean that you've developed an allergy to something in that drink. A few common ingredients found in alcoholic beverages that can cause an allergic reaction are sulfites and histamines, both byproducts of fermentation, as well as certain types of grains.

Why is my wine making me sick? ›

Digestive issues

“Red wine is kind of the trifecta,” Bonci says. Not only does it have histamines and sulfites, but it also has a protein found in grape skin called LTP. This protein gives red wine its color, but it might induce allergic responses in certain people which include flushing, and even diarrhea.

How can you tell if aged wine is bad? ›

First, the fruity aromas disappear, then its flavors turn dull and flat, with a sharp or bitter edge, and the color changes. White wines darken and turn brownish; reds get lighter and browner. Soon, a wine that used to smell like apples or cherries may smell like vinegar or cider.

What is the oldest wine safe to drink? ›

The South-West German city is home to the world's oldest wine bottle and, if experts are to be believed, it's actually drinkable. The Historical Museum of Palatinate, Speyer, is home to the 'Speyer Wine Bottle', a 1,700-year-old bottle of wine that was discovered in 1867.

What is the oldest bottle of wine safe to drink? ›

The so-called 'Speyer bottle, which is located in the Historical Museum of the Palatinate in Speyer, Germany, was discovered in 1867 during the excavation of the grave of a Roman nobleman and woman near to the city, and has now been described as safe to drink.

Is 40 year old wine drinkable? ›

For a red wine that's upwards of 40 years old, it's a good idea to let the bottle stand quietly for four to six weeks—or until the wine becomes perfectly clear. In fact, no old wine should be opened until it's brilliantly clear, and the sediment completely settled.

Is 100 year old wine safe to drink? ›

The best wines can be stored for more than 100 years, but most great wines will reach their peak before they turn 50 years old. Find out if your wine is ready to drink now...

What does very old wine taste like? ›

While they may sell at auction for high prices, the most likely scenario is that the wine tastes like saltwater, nail polish remover, vinegar, or some combination of the three after extremely extended aging. Every wine ages differently and will reach optimal enjoyability at a different time.

Is a 10 year old bottle of wine still good? ›

White wine: 1–2 years past the printed expiration date. Red wine: 2–3 years past the printed expiration date. Cooking wine: 3–5 years past the printed expiration date. Fine wine: 10–20 years, stored properly in a wine cellar.

Can bad wine cause diarrhea? ›

“Consuming alcohol in excess, wine included, can adversely affect the digestive system.” They note that tannins, which are found in significant amounts in many red wines, can have “a mild laxative effect.” People who are sensitive to tannins “may experience loose stools or even diarrhea.”

How to tell if old wine is bad? ›

Looks dull and brownish; smells bitter, nutty or like balsamic vinegar: If you detect any of these symptoms, you're encountering oxidized wine, probably from a faulty closure. Oxygen seeped in and ruined it. Oxidation happens eventually to all opened wine.

How long does wine nausea last? ›

The bottom line

Hangover-related nausea usually lasts around a day. Certain medications and home remedies might help you feel better. Although it's natural to feel nauseous while hungover, it's a good idea to be aware of dehydration symptoms.

Can expired wine make your stomach hurt? ›

Expired alcohol doesn't make you sick. If you drink liquor after it's been open for more than a year, you generally only risk a duller taste. Flat beer typically tastes off and may upset your stomach, whereas spoiled wine usually tastes vinegary or nutty but isn't harmful.

Is it okay to drink opened wine after 2 weeks? ›

Generally, an opened bottle of red wine can last for up to 5 days if stored properly in a cool and dark place with a wine stopper or cork in place to prevent excess oxygen from getting in. For white wine, it can last for up to 3 days under the same storage conditions.


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