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Oct 24, 2007 12:18 PM

When Wine actually does turn to vinegar...

I had a large bottle of Chardonay on my pantry shelf that wasn't anything particularly special, but I used it occasionally for cooking. It sat for a long time and the last time I went to use it I realized it had turned to vinegar. My questions are: Can I use it as vinegar? Will it keep turning more and more vinegarish? Will it actually spoil at some point? Thanks.

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  1. 1) Yes.
    2) Like, at some point dissolve the glass container, become a WMD? No.
    3) It IS already spoiled.

    1 Reply
    1. re: RicRios

      Why does anyone think it's vinegar? Vinegar requires a secondary fermentation, with exposure to much more oxygen than gets into a corked, or even uncorked, wine bottle. And a "large bottle" left sitting on the shelf is unlikly to be an artisinal, unfiltered, unpasteurized wine either, thus no source of the right bacteria (which aren't likely to find their way down the narrow neck of a wine bottle mostly kept closed.)

      Unless there's an heavy, unusual sediment or a gelatinous looking thing floating on the surface, what you've got is turned, if not exactly "spoiled" wine. It's I'm sure nastily acidic, but that's not acetic acid and doesn't taste "nice" the way vinegar acid does.

      If you can stand the taste though, by all means use it as an acidifying agent in cooking. I don't know if un-fortified wine can NEVER hurt you, but unless the label's written in an archaic form of or a dead language, you should be OK in terms of food poisoning safety. ;)

    2. It has turned to vinegar. Sort of. The question is: Do you want to use it as vinegar?
      Not all vinegar that results from wine turning is worth using. Taste it and see if it's something that you want to put on a good salad or use for another purpose.
      It may have just "deteriorated" which it will continue to do. At some point you will declare it "spoiled" and throw it away. You may wish to do that before you use it on food.

      Wine that you will only use for cooking can be stored in the fridge (for a short time) or freezer (for much longer periods), but you shouldn't leave it on the pantry shelf. It loses quality quickly and can ruin dishes that you cook with it.

        1. it's pretty rare for a wine to turn to vinegar on its own. it usually needs a starter introduced to it. it's probably just bad.

          3 Replies
          1. re: warrenr

            If you can call it this, I've occasionally had "good luck" with wine gone off. It's not red wine vinegar, such as you'd buy, but it has gone thin and acidic, and actually was OK in a vinaigrette.

            1. re: hungry_pangolin

              It is just luck. Usually in order for wine to turn to a usable vinegar, you have to add acetobacter bacteria, otherwise known as "mother of vinegar," which consumes the alcohol and produces the acid, while mellowing out the flavor. The bacteria is sort of slimy and unappetizing. Sometimes you'll find cobwebby shreds of it in bottles of artisanal vinegars. You might even find a good-sized wad which you could add to some leftover wine to produce your own vinegar. I tried this years ago but decided it was far too much trouble and hated the sour wine/vinegarey smell that it gave off since you have to leave it loosely covered whlle it does its trick.

            2. re: warrenr

              I was just about to say that, when I read your post.

              imho it's probably only good for cleaning the toilet bowl.

            3. Thanks everyone, I will try it in a dressing and if it tastes ok I will use it until it it doesn't taste good anymore. Thanks for taking the time to answer my question.

              1 Reply
              1. re: nosurndr

                chuck it and buy some good vinegar.....and next time drink the chard before it spoils....or send it to me