Does Red Wine Vinegar Go Bad? How Long Does Red Wine Vinegar Last?

Red wine vinegar is a common ingredient in many households and restaurants, often used as a popular salad dressing itself or as an ingredient in many dressing recipes. Red wine vinegar is not something that goes bad without trying.

Quick Answer

Red wine vinegar is not something that goes bad easily. In fact, it can last pretty much indefinitely. Red wine vinegar in a pantry can be stored for at least two years at best quality. It can be refrigerated for up to three years for best quality. It can be frozen indefinitely to last indefinitely with no limit.


Knowing the ways to utilize your storage space for vinegar is the best for getting you the longest and best quality use of your red wine vinegar. However, no matter how you store it, red wine vinegar cannot expire from just consumer error.

Does Red Wine Vinegar Go Bad? How Long Does Red Wine Vinegar Last?

There are different ways to store red wine vinegar, despite the fact that it can last indefinitely no matter where or how you decide to store it.

How Long Does Red Wine Vinegar Last Outside?

Red wine vinegar can last indefinitely anywhere, but storing in the pantry is the best bet for getting the most out of the best quality red wine vinegar with the shelf life of an unopened bottle.

Unopened red wine vinegar can retain the best quality for two years, and then a year after opening. This works best in an area that is dark and unfluctuating in temperature and moisture.

Sitting opened red wine vinegar may create “the mother.” It is perfectly safe and not a sign of red wine vinegar being bad. It can simply be strained out with coffee filters, and then used as normal.

How Long Does Red Wine Vinegar Last in the Fridge?

Red wine vinegar’s shelf life is not prolonged by refrigerating, although it is recommended after opening. Refrigerating vinegar is less for food safety and more based on storage and how much you use red wine vinegar.

However, if you do choose to refrigerate your red wine vinegar after opening, it will retain the best quality for one year after opening (if it has sat unopened for 2 years for a total of three years.)

Most items are refrigerated to prevent bacterial growth and to prevent food borne illness. Vinegars have a high acidity content, and therefore cannot grow bacteria, so refrigeration is a choice just depending mostly on storage space for yourself.

How Long Does Red Wine Vinegar Last in the Freezer?

Freezing, like anything else, will not impede on the shelf life of red wine vinegar nor extend it. It’s mainly to save space if you need space to store other things.

Vinegar can freeze, and it should be frozen at 28 degrees Fahrenheit. Careful as you freeze it, however, cause vinegar can melt ice and cause the freezer to warm up if it were to spill and not be frozen entirely.

Vinegar should be frozen as close to it’s freezing temperature as possible because of it’s being highly acidic. The colder vinegar gets, the greater acidity it loses and for vinegar to retain it’s best shelf life, it should stay as fresh as possible.


Red wine vinegar can last indefinitely, it just may lose it’s best quality over time. It can be stored anywhere, and it will not extend nor impede the shelf life of red wine vinegar.

How To Tell If Red Wine Vinegar Has Gone Bad / How To Know Red Wine Vinegar is Fresh

After red wine vinegar is opened, like many things, it can lose some of it’s freshness over time while it won’t necessarily go bad. You can tell the freshness of red win vinegar by three things: the color, the smell, and the growth of the mother.

The color: If red wine vinegar has been sitting for a while, especially if it is exposed to extreme heat or lots of sunlight, it will gradually become lighter in shade while it is naturally a deep red color. Typically, if stored properly, the color will not change much – although it may become murky if the mother grows inside.

The smell: Red wine vinegar has a very strong smell, acidic. The longer it sits, the more smell it loses. If it begins to not have a strong smell that can make your eyes water or your nose itch (as that is typical when smelling vinegar), your red wine vinegar may not be as fresh. The more acidity it loses, the less strength it has, and the less the red wine vinegar will last on the shelf.

The Mother: The mother is a growth inside of the red wine vinegar. It isn’t harmful, and it doesn’t effect the shelf life of red wine vinegar. It just shows that is has been opened, and potentially used. It is not mold or bacteria. To use the red wine vinegar as normal, just use a strainer to remove the mother – pouring the vinegar into a separate container and then pouring the strained vinegar into the original container if desired.

How to Store Red Wine Vinegar?

After you open red wine vinegar, there are many different ways to store it to maintain its freshness. It is important to note that vinegars, like many pantry items, should be stored away from high heat sources, and light – it stays best in cool, dark places.

Airtight Container: You can do two options with this: Keep the red wine vinegar in it’s original container with the lid securely fashioned, or you can transfer it to a different air tight container – a glass decanter is best to upkeep quality. Fridge or pantry is best for glass and plastic.

Freezer Bags: Portion out the frozen cubes (talked about below), place into a freezer safe bag and store indefinitely in the freezer or freeze entire portion of red wine vinegar in a freezer safe container, and then thaw when needed.

Can You Freeze Red Wine Vinegar? How?

Yes, you can definitely freeze red wine vinegar – there are two ways to freeze it, one option being more practical than the other.

Transfer to Freezer Safe Container: When freezing red wine vinegar, it should be done in a freezer safe container to prevent spills, leakage, and exploding glass if there is too much pressure.

Leave Space for Expansion: When transferring, use multiple containers if necessary. Leave 1 to 2 inches of room at the top of the bottle to allow for space when the liquid expands, as frozen items expand and can explode when exposed to too much pressure.

Apply Plastic Wrap and Lid: Apply a layer of plastic wrap over the top of the bottle, then secure the lid. This ensures no leakage, and no damage to the red wine vinegar or the freezer compartment.


Pour Into Ice Cubes: Pour red wine vinegar into ice cube trays, cover with a layer of plastic wrap and place on a flat surface to discourage spillage.

Freeze Time: Freeze the full tray for six to twelve hours to ensure it is fully frozen before transferring. Freeze as close to 28 degrees Fahrenheit as possible to ensure it retains it’s best quality.

How to Store: Transfer frozen ice cubes to a freezer safe container or freezer safe Ziploc bag, seal, and place in fridge until needed to thaw.

How to Thaw Red Wine Vinegar?

When thawing red wine vinegar, there are two ways you can do it. Each way is easy, and ensures you can still use the product.

Fridge: The best way to thaw red wine vinegar is in the refrigerator overnight. A slow thaw with most items is the best way to ensure it retains it’s best quality.

Room Temperature: You can thaw red wine vinegar at room temperature for as long as you want or need and need not worry about it growing bacteria as it is so high in acidity that bacteria cannot live in vinegar anyways.

Frequently Asked Questions About Red Wine Vinegar’s Shelf Life

Can Old Red Wine Vinegar Make You Sick?

Red Wine Vinegar is highly acidic, and it is self-preserving, and is not a welcome host for any type of bacteria or mold (the mother is not mold, although it may look it). If nothing can grow in it, old vinegar cannot make you sick – it just may not taste as fresh as it did on day one.

Does Red Wine Vinegar Kill Mold And Bacteria?

Yes, the high acidity of red wine vinegar means it is great for cleaning surfaces that are covered in grimy mold. It was studied that it can kill 82% of mold species. It has less success with killing bacteria, but it can kill some forms of bacteria – but I recommend finding a different cleaner to get rid of bacteria.

Wrap Up

Red Wine Vinegar is something that will keep forever, and all this article tells you is all the different ways to store it so you can make a choice based on your own personal preferences – it also shows that freezing is easy, and to thaw is a simple process.

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