Made by fermentation of red wine until it becomes sour, red wine vinegar is a must-have condiment in the kitchen. Red wine vinegar can brighten up your dishes instantly by adding a bit of acidity and sweetness to practically anything, right from salads to meats, soups, eggs, marinades, vinaigrettes, and more.
And, if you have an unused bottle of red wine vinegar that has been lying around for quite a while, you may be hesitant to use it for the fear that it may have gone bad. So, does red wine vinegar get spoiled? Is it safe to use red wine vinegar that is past its expiration date? We will answer all your questions in our article.
Does Red Wine Vinegar Have a “Best-By” Date?
Like other products, red wine vinegar also comes with an expiration date on the label, giving you information about how long the vinegar will retain its best quality and freshness.
However, this “best before” date is only an estimate. Red wine vinegar is a fermented product and its acidic nature inhibits bacterial growth and prevents the vinegar from getting spoiled.
In short, red wine vinegar has an indefinite shelf life and can last for several years, even if the bottle is opened and stored in the pantry. However, over time, red wine vinegar’s quality and characteristic taste can diminish, making it less punchy and dull.
Storing Red Wine Vinegar
Like other kinds of vinegar like balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, etc., once opened, red wine vinegar also need not be kept in the refrigerator.
It is perfectly fine to keep the bottle of red wine vinegar in a cool, dark place away from heat and sunlight like your pantry or in the kitchen cupboard. However, once you open the vinegar bottle, make sure to seal it tightly after use.
How to Make Out if Red Wine Vinegar Has Got Spoiled?
Once you open the bottle of red wine vinegar, it will not get spoiled; however, over time, the quality of the vinegar degrades and it loses its freshness. You can determine the freshness of the red wine vinegar by its smell, color, and presence of the mother.
- Smell: Generally, red wine vinegar has a strong, acidic smell that can make your nose itch and eyes water and over time, this strong smell starts to diminish.
- Color: When it is fresh, red wine vinegar is deep red in color. However, over time, if the red wine vinegar has been exposed to sunlight and heat, its color will start fading and the vinegar will become a lot lighter. You can prevent the vinegar from losing its color by storing it properly in a cool and dark place. However, if the vinegar has a growth of the mother in it, it will turn murky.
- Growth of the Mother: When you open the bottle of red wine vinegar and it has been in storage for a long time, a slimy or cloudy sediment forms at the bottom of the vinegar. This is known as the mother.
Although it looks gross, the mother is harmless and does not affect the red wine vinegar or its shelf life in any way. All you need to do is remove the mother by pouring the red wine vinegar through a strainer and using it as you would normally.
In conclusion, red wine vinegar has an indefinite shelf life and will last forever. Even if it is very old, red wine vinegar is perfectly safe to use. When stored for a very long time and opened very often, the color of the vinegar can change, become cloudy and/or form sediment at the bottom of the bottle.
You can simply strain these off and use the vinegar. However, if you notice that the vinegar is tasting or smelling a little off, then it is better to avoid using it for cooking purposes.