How to Tell if Wine Is Sour


Storing wine properly ensures that it remains in the highest quality. But sometimes wines can become sour or go bad for a variety of reasons. Identifying sour wine may become difficult at first, but the proper experience will allow you to determine if the wine remains unsuitable to drink. When you encounter a bad wine at restaurant, do not be afraid to send it back. Follow these steps below to determine whether the wine your have is bad.

  • Smell the wine after you open it. If the cork becomes contaminated, it will ruin the wine. The wine will have a foul and unpleasant odor that you will instantly notice.

  • Taste the wine to determine if it has oxidized. When air contacts the wine, it causes it to taste flat and lose its fruit flavor. The wine may taste like vinegar and you will notice the obvious taste.

  • Examine the cork on the wine. If the cork appears pushed out of the bottle, the wine may have expanded because of too much heat. If the cork appears cracked or split, it may have become contaminated.

  • Inspect the color of the wine. If a red wine appears too brown or a white wine looks deep yellow or brown, then the wine may have become oxidized. The wine will look clear and not cloudy.

  • Taste the wine to determine if it has maderized. Maderized wine has been stored in too hot of an environment. The heat causes the wine to expand, and it gives it an astringent taste.

  • Drink the wine carefully. If the wine has fizziness similar to champagne, it may have fermented again in the bottle. The fermentation can ruin the taste of the wine.

Tips & Warnings

  • Finding clear sugar crystals on the bottle is not a sign of spoilage. These crystals form when the wine remains in a very cold location.
  • Avoid drinking the wine if you notice any sign of spoilage. The wine may make you ill.


  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
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