What Happens If You Drink Bad Wine?

There’s nothing nicer than getting home from a hard day’s work, putting your feet up and having a relaxing glass of wine. However, what happens when something doesn’t taste or smell quite right with the wine?

Whether it’s a loss of flavor or something quite wrong with the smell, bad wine can be caused by an array of issues.

As bad wine can mostly be detected by smell, it’s important to know what kinds of smells to keep in mind as well as the color of the wine as this can be affected if the bottle has been exposed to air. 

The first thing to understand is that bad wine can fall into two categories which are faulty and flawed wines.

The causes are different and the results and consequences also differ so it’s important to know the differences and identify whether the wine is flawed or faulty. 

Flawed wine is when there are minor differences that mean the taste and smell are slightly different to the general characteristics of the wine.

This is mainly due to external factors that may have occurred such as poor storage or serving the wine in a dirty glass rather than the actual wine making process or fermentation.

There are a variety of different factors that can contribute to a flawed wine which means that you’re unlikely to purchase a flawed bottle of wine on the shelves.

On the other hand, a faulty wine is when an issue has taken place during the winemaking or fermentation process.

A faulty wine will make the whole bottle undrinkable and is at the fault of the company rather than the individual who has purchased the wine.

However, as all wines go through an incredibly strict process before hitting shelves, this is a rare occurrence.     

What happens if you drink bad wine?

Drinking too much wine in general can make you feel a bit ill as with anything.

However, if you have consumed bad wine specifically, the likelihood of it causing any further harm than a small bout of sickness is slim so long as it is not chemically contaminated with pathogens.

Although it may be unpleasant to drink and taste bad, the alcohol in the wine acts as a bactericide meaning that it is very unlikely that it can be contaminated.

Whereas white wines don’t tend to smell or taste any different once they have gone bad due to the sharper and crisper aromatic tones, red wine is usually what is consumed when people think of bad wine.

This is due to the fact that red wines turn into vinegar when they have gone bad which affects the taste and smell. Although it doesn’t give a nice taste, it shouldn’t harm you any further. 

Identifying flawed wine

  • Bubbles 

Unless it is a sparkling wine or champagne, your wine should be still. However, if you purchase or are served a bottle that clearly has bubbles in it, this means that the fermentation process is still occurring which is not good.

Always ask for a change in bottle immediately and if you are given another bottle with the same defect then it is likely a faulty batch.

You can drink the wine as is with the sparkling bubbles as it won’t cause any danger or harm but the taste and smell may be affected so bear this in mind. 

  • Vinegar smell

As discussed before, a vinegar smell or nail polish remover smell can indicate that your wine has been affected by acid bacteria.

This usually happens when the bottle has been left opened for some time. It does have an affect on the smell and taste but again will not harm you.

However, those who are sensitive towards acidic food and drink should avoid consuming the wine as it can cause a burning sensation. 

  • Burning rubber smell

Another smell to look out for is burning rubber. This is a rare occurrence but is a result of sulfur compounds developing during the winemaking process. If you come across this odor then ask for another bottle immediately. 

  • Brown pigment

A brown pigment can occur in both red and white wines during the aging process and usually will appear after one or two years.

This happens because the wine has been exposed to too much oxygen and can be avoided by using some airtight wine bottle toppers.

This will have a negative effect on the wine’s taste and smell. When exposed to air, red wine will oxidize which will dull the color and change it purple before going brown but it can also happen to white wine that is left in the open air after a few days. 


In conclusion, bad wine is something that rarely happens due to the fault of the company and more due to the conditions of where the wine is stored and how it is treated once opened.

Although it may have an unpleasant smell and taste, it won’t make you so ill to the point where you need to go to the hospital.

By following the hints and tips given in this article, you’ll know what to look out for and will no longer have to suffer from any faulty or flawed wine ever again. 

Christina Day
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