Log In / Join Now

Ask Dr. Vinny

Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...

Dear Dr. Vinny,

Is there any scientific explanation for why a wine does not expire?

—Adowa, Ghana

Dear Adowa,

If by “expired” you mean “dead” (or, more politely, “over the hill”), then there are actually plenty of wines that I’d say meet this definition. I’m thinking of wines that are either so old all the flavors have faded, or that became oxidized because their storage conditions have been compromised, or some combination of these factors. Drinking them won’t make you sick, but they can taste generic, flat and nutty with bruised apple notes.

Perhaps you’re wondering why wines don’t spoil—and if that’s the case, the alcohol in wine acts like a preservative and prohibits the growth of pathogens. Wine can’t spoil like that gallon of milk you forgot about. Even the most unpleasant wines won’t make you sick, unless you drink too much of them.

—Dr. Vinny

Wine Basics

We break down the basics—how to taste, serve, store and more. Plus:
» Maps of major wine regions
» Grape variety characteristics

How-to Videos

Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more

Wine Spectator School: All courses are FREE for WineSpectator.com Members

Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.

Browse our course catalog
Check out the professional wine sales and service courses
Learn Wine Forum: Got questions? Get answers

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 340,000+ ratings.