How Long Can You Keep Red Wine Vinegar Once Opened

Reviewed on 1/23/2023

How long does red wine vinegar last?

Does red wine vinegar go bad? It's a common ingredient in the Mediterranean diet, and home cooks often use it in salad dressings and marinades. But most recipes call for small amounts. If a bottle of red wine vinegar has been sitting in your cabinet for months, you may wonder how long it will stay fresh. The good news is that red wine vinegar keeps for years, especially if you store it properly.

Pasteurized vinegar will be safe to eat for many years. Food companies that sell vinegar almost always pasteurize it by heating the vinegar to preserve it. If they don't pasteurize a bottle of vinegar, the label will say "unpasteurized".

All vinegar for sale in the United States must contain at least 4% acetic acid. Acetic acid kills bacteria and fungi, so red wine vinegar doesn't go bad in the sense of being dangerous to drink.

Red wine vinegar will look and taste its best if you use it within 2 to 3 years from the time you buy it. Food companies put a "best by" date on the bottle, but it doesn't mean the vinegar won't be safe by that date. The "best by" date is usually two years after they made the red wine vinegar. It tells you how long the company thinks the vinegar will have the best possible appearance and flavor.

Changes in red wine vinegar

Over time, red wine vinegar may turn pale or brown. A color change means the flavor has also changed, but the vinegar is still safe to use in food. Even if your red wine vinegar becomes cloudy or you notice what looks like dirt or slime settling at the bottom of the bottle, it is still safe to eat. You can pour the vinegar through a coffee filter to make it look better, but the vinegar is okay to use even if you don't strain it.

What is red wine vinegar used for? 

Red wine vinegar has a strong, sharp flavor. It breaks down proteins, so it can make meats, fish, and vegetables more tender. Cooks often use red wine vinegar for:

  • salad dressings
  • marinades (sauces you soak the meat in before you cook it)
  • meat and fish dishes
  • pickling vegetables

How to store red wine vinegar 

Three ways to help vinegar keep looking and tasting as good as possible:

  1. Keep red wine vinegar in glass, plastic, ceramic, or stainless-steel jars, as the acid in vinegar can react with some metals. 
  2. Ensure the container stays tightly sealed to minimize the amount of oxygen reaching the vinegar. Put the lid back on right away each time you use it. 
  3. Store vinegar in a cool, dark place where it won't get direct sunlight or heat from your stovetop or oven.

Health benefits of red wine vinegar 

Red wine vinegar contains little to no calories, carbs, fat, sugar, cholesterol, or sodium. It doesn't include much in the way of nutrients, but it can add a punch of flavor to almost any diet.

Studies show that red wine vinegar may have antioxidant properties, which might help prevent oxidative stress.  Oxidative stress is when your body doesn't have enough antioxidants to defend your cells against damage by free radicals. Scientists are still studying oxidative stress, but they believe it may lead to cancer and some brain disorders.

Including vinegar in your meal may help you feel full more quickly, so you don't eat too much. It can also help lower blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure.

Side effects of red wine vinegar

Cooking with red wine vinegar is safe, but if you drink vinegar before every meal, you may have some side effects.

Tooth decay

Vinegar is strongly acidic. It can wear away at your tooth enamel, the outer layer of your teeth that protects the nerve inside each tooth. This can lead to cavities and sensitive teeth.

Vinegar Intolerance

When people try to drink vinegar or eat vinegar-soaked food, they sometimes feel nauseous (like they might throw up) or get a headache. Taking vinegar with a bland food such as rice or drinking it with a meal can help reduce nausea and headaches.

Researchers saw tooth decay, nausea, and headaches in people who drank vinegar daily. When you cook with it, red wine vinegar is a healthy way to add flavor to your meal. Red wine vinegar is safe to eat long past its "best by" date. Its taste and color will last years if you store it in a tightly closed container in a cool, dark place.

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References
SOURCES:

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Vinegar."

Iowa State University: "Vinegar Shelf Life and Safety."

Journal of Food Science: "Functional Properties of Vinegar."

Journal of Medicinal Food: "Evidence That Daily Vinegar Ingestion May Contribute to Erosive Tooth Wear in Adults."

Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture: "Antioxidant activity and phenolic content of wine vinegars produced by two different techniques."

National Library of Medicine: "Acetic Acid."

NC State Extension: "Vinegar Making."

Translational Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine: "Effects of Vinegar/Acetic Acid Intake on Appetite Measures and Energy Consumption: Systematic Review."

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