When wine tastes like vinegar: What to do about it

Have you ever opened a bottle of wine, only to take a sip and find that it tastes like vinegar?

When wine tastes like vinegar, it can be a major disappointment. Not only does it take away from the enjoyment of the wine, but it can also make you feel like you've wasted your money. 

This is bad news for wine lovers and those in the business of wine like shippers, restaurateurs and retailers.

So, what causes wine to taste like vinegar, and how can you avoid it in the future?

Why does my wine taste like vinegar?

Oxidized wine is a phrase we all hear when wine tastes like vinegar or when we find it unpleasant on the palate.  

The reason for this, is that when wine comes into contact with air, it sets off a set of chemical reactions, which we call oxidation .This process is caused by acetic bacteria, also known as “acetobacter”. If oxygen is able to enter the wine bottle, it enables bacteria to work on the oxidation of ethanol, thus transforming it into acetic acid, creating the unpleasant sour taste. 

You can detect souring by smell and taste.



On the palate it is bitter, dry and sometimes might taste like vinegar. 

When wine tastes like vinegar, is it safe to drink? 

If you're wondering if it's safe to drink wine that tastes like vinegar, you can rest assured that taking a sip won't hurt you. But that doesn't mean that you should finish the bottle… A wine that has spoiled after being left open and exposed to oxygen, will taste like vinegar and the smell may cause a burning sensation in your nasal passages.

Putting the science to work for you, the shipper 

If you need to ship fresh and young wines in bulk, consider using a flexitank, you’re not only safeguarding your wine against oxygen ingress, but also delaying the start of its shelf life since the flexitank is a sealed container, almost vacuum-like. 

Single and multi-layer flexitanks are available to ship wine, and are designed with a patented technology barrier to:

  • Defend against taint compounds

  • Protect against oxidation

Without this barrier, gases like oxygen can permeate through the plastic and begin that chemical reaction of oxidization.

This is how bulk shipping using a flexitank is different from bottle shipping: 

  • No air touches the product until bottling at the destination.

  • There is no risk of oxidization from closure or seal failure. 

  • Wine in bulk has greater thermal inertia than wine in a bottle, meaning it is less susceptible to temperature changes.

For more information on shipping your products using bulk liquid flexitanks, check out our flexitank webpage or speak to your local Hillebrand office.

How can we help your business grow?