Does white wine vinegar go bad?

In this brief guide, we will address the question, “does white wine vinegar go bad” as well as other questions pertaining to the subject at hand like how much time does white wine vinegar take to go bad or does its acidity changes over time, and what are some of the storage practices needed to prolong the shelf life of white wine vinegar.

Does White vinegar go bad?

Ideally, no, white vinegar does not go bad. White vinegar is a fermented product that has almost an indefinite shelf life. It is because of its acid nature that it has an “almost indefinite” shelf life and requires no refrigeration, according to the Vinegar Institute. However, the quality starts to degrade after a certain time. A properly stored white wine vinegar can last for two years before its quality is affected.

The shelf life of red wine vinegar will solely depend on how it is stored.

According to studies, the global vinegar market was estimated to grow more than 6.74% from 2017 to 2021. Europe was the biggest market for vinegar in 2017, followed by North America, Asia Pacific, Latin America, Middle East, and Africa. By the end of 2024, the global vinegar market is estimated to reach about 54,772 mt for balsamic vinegar, 13,427 mt for apple cider vinegar, 14,297 mt f or white wine vinegar, 31,720 mt for red wine vinegar, 7,539 mt for rice vinegar, 31,720 mt for red wine vinegar and 8,541 mt for malt vinegar (1).

Does white vinegar need to be refrigerated? 

Not specifically, all white vinegar needs is a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat. The same conditions apply even after opening the bottle. White vinegar retains its best quality for a good 2 – 3 years in the pantry.

White distilled vinegar has an indefinite shelf life and will remain unchanged over an extended period of time. Eventually changes can be observed, such as color or the development of a haze or sediment, especially in other types of vinegar, such as rice and balsamic vinegar. The product can still be used and enjoyed with confidence.  The main component of vinegar, acetic acid, is relatively stable under the right conditions, that is, in a cool, dark cupboard away from direct heat or sunlight. Vinegar should only be stored in closed containers of glass, plastic, or non-reactive materials (2). 

Changes that may occur over time

White wine Vinegar may get hazy or cloudy due to deposition of some sediments, but they can be removed after filtration and vinegars are good to use again.

The presence of oxygen normally triggers a series of chemical and enzymatic reactions in the vinegar from the different origins. Some of these effects are: (a) darkening of colour; (b) presence of brown precipitates; (c) loss of density and body; (e) loss of aromas. All these changes differ from one vinegar sample to another and depend on the type of vinegar, the raw material, the elaboration process and the storage conditions. When oxygen comes into contact with the vinegar, a decrease in the content of its main preservatives is observed, resulting in the degradation of the product (3).  

  • White wine Vinegar that has been stored for longer duration develops a slimy substance particularly known as ‘Mother’ because it can be used to make a new batch of vinegar. So, old vinegar is harmless and safe to use for consumption purposes. 
  • By the time the oxygenation process occurs in vinegar that may affect its odour and flavour of vinegar becomes deeper, more sour and acidic. 
  • The moisture in the air can weaken the acidity of vinegar as water from the air can be absorbed by acetic acid. 
  • White wine Vinegar will lose its flavour as acidity declines, therefore; it is advised to cover the container tightly with the lid immediately after using it.

As mentioned earlier that normally vinegar does not expire, some organoleptic or aesthetic changes might occur over the course of time that may be the result of exposure to light and air, these changes are mainly due to improper storage.

White wine vinegar storage tips

Storing white wine vinegar is pretty similar to storing other kinds of vinegar, like balsamic or red wine. Proper storage helps in reducing food waste and maximizing food quality by delaying their deterioration and decomposition processes. White wine vinegar should be stored in an airtight properly sealed container to protect it from oxidative changes. If exposed to air, it will cause evaporation hence, resulting in loss of flavour.

 It should be placed at the dry place at room temperature. Direct sunlight and heat could degrade the vinegar much more quickly. White wine vinegar should be kept away from heat source and light at some dark place to extend its shelf life.

Like all foodstuffs, vinegar can be preserved by placing it in the refrigerator but even if chemical reactions are less rapid at lower temperatures, the process of oxidation occurs and oxygen promotes a series of chemical and enzymatic reactions that modify the vinegar (3).

Does white wine vinegar need refrigeration?

Like other varieties of vinegar, white wine vinegar needs refrigeration once opened. White wine vinegar stored in the refrigerator will keep for six to eight months, however, this period varies, depending on the composition of the vinegar, the temperature of storage and the packaging material used. Whereas the bottle of white wine vinegar which is placed at room temperature only lasts for three months. A study suggests that for optimal quality, commercial wine vinegars are best consumed within 6 months of storage after opening (4).

Naturally, vinegar is highly acidic and has antimicrobial properties. They have ph around 2-3 and at this ph, most of the microorganisms are not able to grow or proliferate. Thus, the product is safe from microbial spoilage therefore it is known as self-preserving. However, the physicochemical characteristics of the vinegar may change during storage, resulting in an increase of the pH. ThereforeBut after opening it is best to store the vinegar in the refrigerator to retain its essence and quality for a long period of time.

In addition, vinegar is not free from microbial spoilage when it is not correctly stored. For example, wine is at high risk of spoilage by acetic acid bacteria during prolonged barrel maturation if wine is not topped up and monitored regularly, but poor management during bottling and storage of red wine can give rise to spoilage because of the proliferation of Acetobacter pasteurianus (5)

How to refrigerate white wine vinegar

White wine vinegar should be stored in a glass or ceramic bottle, metallic packaging is not suited to store vinegar due to corrosive properties. The lid or the cap should be very tight so that no air enters in to the bottle to cause evaporation

Usage of white wine vinegar

White wine vinegar is called all kinds of cooking. Like other kinds of vinegar, white wine vinegar is also widely used in seasonings around the world, it would make a great dipping sauce and used as salad dressings, condiments to preserve meat, for pickling spiced fruits and vegetables. It is an important ingredient for many recipes, sauces and marinades.

White wine vinegar is used in foods to enhance its flavour and add balance to dishes, it also improves the texture of the product by breaking down the complex substances.

White wine vinegar gives an extra zing of flavour to marinades and sauces. In marinades, the acid in the vinegar also functions as a tenderizing agent for meats, seafood and vegetables.  It is also used in baking alongside baking soda as a leavening agent for baked goods.

White wine vinegar is the main ingredient in lemon chicken, Korean Vegetable pancake, Filipino chicken adobo and many more dishes. You can read more about these white wine vinegar recipes here.


In this brief guide, we have addressed the question, “does white wine vinegar go bad” as well as other questions pertaining to the subject at hand like how much time does white wine vinegar take to go bad or does its acidity changes over time, and what are some of the storage practices needed to prolong the shelf life of white wine vinegar.


  1. Harahap, Iswandi. A study on the status of types of vinegar and their rules from Islamic perspective: a case study in the Malaysian market. International Islamic University Malaysia. 2020.
  2. Geiger,M. Vinegar shelf life and safety. 2021. Iowa State University.
  3. Casale, Monica, et al. Study of the aging and oxidation processes of vinegar samples from different origins during storage by near-infrared spectroscopy. Analyt Chim Acta, 2006, 557, 360-366.
  4. Kang, Minjeong, Jung-Heun Ha, and Youngseung Lee. Physicochemical properties, antioxidant activities and sensory characteristics of commercial gape vinegars during long-term storage. Food Sci Technol, 2020, 40, 909-916.
  5. Bartowsky, Evaline J. Bacterial spoilage of wine and approaches to minimize it. Lett appl microbiol, 2009, 48, 149-156.

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!