Does red wine vinegar go bad?
In this brief guide, we will address the question “Does red wine vinegar go bad?” as well as other related questions pertaining to the subject, such as “Does red wine vinegar change over time?”, and “How to store red wine vinegar?”.
Does red wine vinegar go bad?
Red wine vinegar does not go bad if stored properly. Vinegar’s shelf life is almost indefinite due to its acidic nature (1).
Red wine vinegar’s pH is about 3.0, and most bacteria will not grow at pH levels below 4.6. Hence, red wine vinegar does not provide a favourable climate for the growth of pathogenic bacteria (2,3).
Vinegar in general have a strong bactericidal effect. They are effective in combating bacteria such as L. monocytogenes, S. Enteritidis, S. sonnei, Yersinia sp., E. coli and S. aureus cells (4).
Furthermore, it was not found in vinegar the mycotoxin Patulin, produced by Penicillium, Aspergillus and Byssochylamys molds that grow on fruit, such as grapes used to produce red wine vinegar. Fermentation, which is one of the steps to produce vinegar, destroys patulin (5).
The strong bactericidal activity of vinegar is associated with its high acetic acid content, and sometimes, also because of the sulfur dioxide added to the vinegar, due to its preservative properties (4,6).
Does red wine vinegar change over time?
Some changes can be observed in red wine vinegar over time, such as colour changes or the development of a haze or sediment. Nevertheless, this is only an aesthetic change and the product can still be consumed (1).
A change in flavour can also be observed, as the longer the red wine vinegar ages, the more muted the flavour becomes. Actually, after fermentation is complete, the red wine vinegar can be strained, bottled, or even aged for up to two years before bottling and going to retail (1).
How to know if red wine vinegar has gone bad?
As mentioned before, it is very unlikely for red wine vinegar to spoil. However, after a long time stored, it can present changes in colour and flavour, which may not please everyone, but still, it will not harm your health once it is stored correctly.
Sometimes, after opening a vinegar bottle, a cloudy solid can be formed. This solid is called “mother”. It can naturally occur in vinegar products as the result of the vinegar bacteria itself and it is harmless. Nowadays, most manufacturers pasteurize their products before bottling to prevent these bacteria from forming “mother” while sitting on the retail shelf (1).
However, it is worth mentioning that if you think that the red wine vinegar you have at home has not been well stored (see “How to store red wine vinegar?” Section), the best thing to do is to discard the product and open a new one.
What are the consequences of consuming red wine vinegar that has gone bad?
Ingesting red wine vinegar or any other food that has gone bad may get you feeling sick. Symptoms can range from mild to serious and can last for a few hours or for several days (7).
The symptoms may vary, although the most common symptoms of food poisoning are (7):
- Stomach pain or cramps
Some more severe symptoms may also occur, including (7):
- Bloody diarrhoea
- Diarrhoea that lasts more than 3 days
- High fever (temperature over 102°F)
- Vomiting so often that you cannot keep liquids down
- Signs of dehydration, include not urinating (peeing) much, a dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up
What should you do if you ingest red wine vinegar that has gone bad?
If you ingest red wine vinegar that you believe has gone bad or any other spoiled food, you should first observe what symptoms you are experiencing.
If you experience diarrhoea or vomiting, you should drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. If you have any severe symptoms, you should see a doctor (7).
You should also seek medical attention if you are pregnant and have a fever and other flu-like symptoms as some mild infections can cause problems with pregnancy (7).
How to store red wine vinegar?
Red wine vinegar can be stored at room temperature out of direct sunlight. Furthermore, red wine vinegar can be packed in airtight properly sealed glass, plastic, wood, enamel, or stainless steel containers (8).
Conversely, it is not recommended to use a metal container (other than stainless steel), as the metal will be corroded due to the acidic nature of vinegar (8).
And, precisely because of its acidic nature, vinegar is self-preserving and does not need refrigeration (1).
What are the uses of red wine vinegar?
Red wine vinegar can be used in salad dressings and sauces, pickling, slow food and cooked in reductions to make sauces (1).
You can read about red wine vinegar recipes here.
Other FAQs about Vinegar which you may be interested in.
In this brief guide, we have addressed the question, “Does red wine vinegar go bad?” as well as other related questions pertaining to the subject, including “Does red wine vinegar change over time?”, and “How to store red wine vinegar?”.
(1) The Vinegar Institute. Everything you need to know about vinegar. 2019.
(2) FDA. Food Safety: A to Z Guide. 2013.
(3) Cruz M, Correia AC, Gonçalves FJ, Jordão AM. Phenolic composition and total antioxidant capacity analysis of red wine vinegars commercialized in Portuguese market. Ciênc E Téc Vitivinícola. 2018;33(2):102–15.
(4) Medina E, Romero C, Brenes M, De Castro A. Antimicrobial Activity of Olive Oil, Vinegar, and Various Beverages against Foodborne Pathogens. J Food Prot. 2007 May;70(5):1194–9.
(5) FDA. Mycotoxins: Toxins found in food infected by certain molds or fungi. 2022.
(6) Dini I, Senatore A, Coppola D, Mancusi A. Validation of a rapid test to dose SO2 in vinegar. AIMS Agric Food. 2023;8(1):1–24.
(7) CDC. Food Poisoning Symptoms. Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Food Safety. 2022.
(8) Nicholas C, Herringshaw H. Making Cider Vinegar at Home. The Ohio University Extension; 2009.