Does Red Wine Vinegar Go Bad? All You Want To Know

Does Red Wine Vinegar Go Bad? All You Want To Know

No matter how talented a cook you are, red wine vinegar is a pantry essential that should always be present in your kitchen. It is a multipurpose condiment that cuts through fat, balances saltiness, and brightens flavors in a dish.

Red wine is fermented until it sours using a starter culture and acidic bacteria to make red wine vinegar. Red wine’s alcohol is transformed into acetic acid, which is the primary ingredient in vinegar, during the fermentation process.

You might use it frequently, but if you come across an old bottle in the back of your pantry, you might be unsure about its safety. Does red wine vinegar go bad?

The shelf life of red wine vinegar is explained here.

Does Red Wine Vinegar Go Bad? The Shelf Life 

Let’s start by addressing the proverbial elephant in the room: does red wine vinegar expire? That is, it doesn’t, to put it simply. That, however, is only a portion of the solution.

As a result of red wine’s fermentation into an acid, red wine vinegar essentially has a low pH.

In order to keep it from spoiling, this is crucial.

This is so because most bacteria that cause food to spoil cannot survive at such a pH. As a result, the main factor causing food to spoil is absent.

The red wine vinegar, however, experiences taste degradation, so there is a catch.

Although it has an endless shelf life, over time the flavor gets stale and loses its punch.

Manufacturers typically give it a Best By date of two to three years because of this.

As long as the opened bottle is tightly sealed, this is true for both opened and unopened red wine vinegar.

Simply put, the expiration date just indicated when it will taste the best.

What Are The Signs That Red Wine Vinegar Is Bad?

It is necessary to first briefly discuss the mother of vinegar before discussing vinegar going bad.

A natural byproduct of vinegar production is the mother. It is risk-free to consume and safe. The bottom of the bottle appears to contain a murky or slimy sediment. Before using the vinegar, you can remove it by passing the liquid through coffee filters.

If the label of your vinegar reads “pasteurized” or “filtered,” it doesn’t contain the mother. In contrast to pasteurization, which destroys it, filtering removes it from the liquid. The mother is frequently included in the bottle of raw vinegar.

Even in filtered and pasteurized varieties, if the bottle is opened and left to sit in storage for a long time, the mother may start to form near the bottom of the bottle. Your vinegar isn’t at all bad, and that is entirely natural.

Just to be clear, the mother is completely safe and is naturally present in vinegar. Just sort of gross, it seems.

It is unlikely that vinegar will go bad. It makes sense to check the vinegar before using it, though, if you’ve been storing a half-open bottle for a few years already.

Pour it into a glass to see if the color hasn’t changed and give it a good sniff. Give it a taste to make sure the quality is good enough to use if it looks and smells okay. Removing the vinegar will make it so. Otherwise, you’re welcome to keep using it.

See more about Is Merlot A Red Wine?

Ways To Store Red Wine Vinegar

Storing red wine vinegar is no different than storing apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar. In other words, keep the bottle out of direct sunlight and other sources of heat.


Even though some vinegar bottles are tinted to offer some protection from light, vinegar should always be stored in a dark area.

The pantry is the ideal choice, but a kitchen cupboard also works. The bottle should always be tightly closed after use once it has been opened.

Refrigeration is not necessary for red wine vinegar after opening.

Red wine vinegar is self-preserving because of its high acidity and low pH. Due to vinegar’s inability to support the growth of pathogenic bacteria, it has no special storage needs.

How Long Can Red Wine Vinegar Be Stored?

Red wine vinegar should be kept in a cool, dark location, such as a pantry or cupboard, to preserve the product’s quality even though refrigeration is not required. A glass container should always be used to store vinegar because plastic and other materials allow oxygen to enter, compromising the vinegar’s quality. As much as possible should be done to prevent oxygen from entering because it will hasten the aging of the vinegar.

The vinegar’s life will be significantly extended if the bottle is only opened when it is being used and the lid is kept in place tightly. The shelf life of a bottle of red wine vinegar is up to a few years if kept in these conditions. Such a long shelf life, indeed.

Does Red Wine Vinegar Go Bad? All You Want To Know
Does Red Wine Vinegar Go Bad? All You Want To Know

Might Change Over Time

Red wine vinegar’s quality is somewhat impacted by oxygen every time you open a bottle of it.

Additionally, even if you don’t open the bottle, the quality will be impacted if the vinegar was bottled or transferred to a plastic container because oxygen can pass through the plastic.

Vinegar undergoes oxidation when exposed to oxygen. This results in the decline and eventual disappearance of two preservatives, citric acid and sulfur dioxide.

The quality is impacted but there are no safety issues as a result.

An older bottle of red wine vinegar may have a darkened color and show some solids or cloudy sediment, which are the two main oxidation-related changes you may notice.

On your palate, it may also lose body or weight over time, and its aroma may change.

Older vinegar bottles frequently go through physical changes, such as color darkening, the formation of solids, or changes in flavor or mouthfeel. These occur when it comes into contact with oxygen, but they have no negative effects on your health.

See more about How Many Calories In A Bottle Of Red Wine?

Should You Ever Toss It Out?

Vinegar’s high acidity makes it impossible for pathogenic bacteria to survive. Therefore, it cannot spoil. However, its quality may decline over time. It could turn cloudy or develop solid floating particles. Despite being harmless, these solids may not be very appetizing to look at, and you can get rid of them by straining them out.

You might notice discoloration or modifications to the vinegar’s flavor, texture, or aroma in a bottle that has spent a little too much time in the pantry. Red wine vinegar won’t go bad before it’s safe to use it, but if these signs start to appear, it’s probably best to buy a new bottle.

When To Toss Red Wine Vinegar

Most vinegar bottles do not have an expiration date. Red wine vinegar is technically something you can keep forever, or at least until you run out of it.

Your recipes might suffer in terms of flavor, color, or aroma even though there is no health risk.

Give the vinegar a taste and a smell before adding it to a recipe you worked hard to create. Your salad or sauce might suffer if it seems off.

It’s okay to strain off any solids or cloudy sediment and use it if it tastes and smells fine.

But the next time you go grocery shopping, it might be worthwhile to buy a new bottle.

A spare bottle of unflavored, white vinegar is a wise idea to keep on hand in case you need it. White vinegar has the lowest likelihood of deterioration over time.

Uses For Red Wine Vinegar

Red wine vinegar has a huge variety of culinary applications. Everything from deviled eggs to fish and chips benefit from the acidic brightness that this zingy ingredient adds. Use it as a traditional, straightforward dressing on a salad along with some olive oil. Pour a little bit of sauce on your roast beef sandwich for some extra bite. Finish a sauce or soup with a few drops for an extra acidic note that will give your dish a fine-dining touch.

The high acidity of red wine vinegar, which is another fantastic marinade ingredient, beautifully tenderizes meat. If you enjoy pickled foods, red wine vinegar can be used to make your own pickled treats, such as shallots or beets. With only a few ingredients and about 30 minutes, you can quickly pickle food on the stove.

Pickled Shallots Recipe

Culinary Hill provided the recipe for these pickled shallots, which go great on burgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches. Add some to a salad or top a baguette with them. These salty beauties have endless uses.


  • 4 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 pinch salt (optional)


  1. Bring salt, vinegar, and sugar to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Stir in shallots.
  2. For roughly 30 minutes, cover and completely cool.
  3. For a week or more, keep in brine in an airtight container.

Final Words

Even if it is old, red wine vinegar can still be used without any issues. It cannot support harmful bacteria because of how acidic it is.

But over time, particularly if it’s opened frequently, it may turn darker and develop solids or cloudiness inside the bottle. You are welcome to strain those out.

Additionally, your red wine vinegar may begin to taste or smell strangely over time. In that case, swap it out and put the previous bottle to non-culinary use.

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