Well first of all, don’t panic just yet! There are definitely things you can do to save that bottle from being poured down the drain.
Now I’m sure you’re thinking…my vodka can stay on the shelf for weeks, why does my wine go bad?
It’s all about the chemical composition. When wine goes bad, it turns into vinegar. Vinegar is created when all the wine's alcohol is consumed by acetic acid bacteria. This bacteria is already a part of the wine. It forms when the grapes are being fermented. Wine can also go bad if its exposed to oxygen for too long. The molecules in the wine react with the oxygen to give it a nutty, musty, and old flavor if exposed to it for a long period of time...like over night.
Vodka, on the other hand, has been distilled to 95% pure alcohol before it’s sold to you in store. There’s nothing that would be able to survive in that bottle on your shelf. Cap on or off! Therefore, vodka doesn’t have an expiration date.
So how do you know if your wine is bad anyways?
A few things to note here. A way to tell that your wine is bad is by smelling it. If your wine smells like nail polish remover, strong hints of vinegar, nuts, old raisins, and a little musty, it’s probably bad.
Wines like to live between 35 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5-21 degrees Celsius). So, make sure you’re storing them accordingly.
White wines will usually, under cork, last about 5-7 days before they go bad. Red wines will usually, under cork, last between 4 and 5 days. Under screw cap, it might be a little longer for both. But let’s say no more than a week to be safe! And bubbles will last between 1 and 3 days before not being so tasty anymore, assuming you have a proper sparkling wine bottle stopper.
What to do when day 4 sneaks up on you and the bottle isn’t empty? If you don't want the bottle to go bad, there are things you can do. Here are a few of my favorites:
When a wine is about to go bad, a way to prevent it from completely spoiling is to add a neutral spirit to it. I would recommend adding brandy, vodka or rum! When you add some alcohol, you’ll stop the acetic acid from consuming all the alcohol, which turns the wine into vinegar. This should give you a few more days, and you can use this as the base of a sangria! (peep my sangria recipe!)
2) Turn it into Vinegar!
Like I mentioned before, wine turns into vinegar once it is exposed to oxygen or the acetic acid bacteria consumes all the alcohol. In French vinegar actually means “sour wine.” Add a cup of apple cider vinegar or any other mother vinegar, such as rice wine or red wine vinegar to your bottle of red wine. Add some of your favorite flavor agents such as garlic, rosemary, basil or thyme to really make a delicious vinegar to use on salads or bread! Put it in a dark place where it can mature. Take it out after a week to enjoy!
3) Cook With It!
Grab a nice slab of meat, chicken, or pork and soak it in the red wine with loads of flavor agents from citrus to spice, to even your favorite veggies. You can marinate it and then cook it up in the oven, in a pan, BBQ or however you prefer! It’s a great way to flavor your food. While it cooks, the alcohol will burn away and the acids will help break down the meat fibers giving you a nice tender slab of meat to enjoy!
4) White Wine CLEANS Red Wine Stains
If you have a nasty red wine stain, you can use your left over white wine to help scrub it out. The chemical composition of the white wine will help to break down the stain of the red wine, and presto, it’s gone!
Hopefully these are some tips that you can use when your wine starts to go bad. Make sure that if you open a bottle, you put the cork or top back on if you’re not going to finish. If you leave it open it will go bad over night being exposed to oxygen which is a lot harder to salvage.
Big shout out to my friend Samantha who asked for some tips and tricks. I hope this post helps you in the future!