Why Red Wine May Taste Bad – It’s a Different Reason than You Would Imagine

Last Updated on August 1st, 2023

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As one’s wine palate matures, consider looking into the darker red wines. Most people, in general, know about Zinfandel and possibly Merlot, but have you tried Malbec? Or even a bolder option like Mourvèdre?

The Argentinian and French vintage have a fuller-bodied flavor full of tannins. Pucker up; these flavors are not for everyone. 


How can you tell if your red wine has gone bad?

One smell and look should suffice when checking to see if anything has spoiled. Red wines turn a dark brown color, and some bottles have what is called “Cork-taint,” which sometimes smells like a wet dog. 

A very pungent and unpleasant smell. The most secure way is if your red wine has turned into vinegar—it is spoiled. 

Wine being poured into a glass in a bar - Why Red Wine May Taste Bad?

Did your wine go bad, or is it just the tannins?

Tannins are the phenolic bio-compounds found in wine. The word comes from the old German term “Tannenbaum,” which is associated with a traditional folk song from the 16th century but was penned anew in 1824. 

The song was changed into “O Tannenbaum,” which translates from German to English to evergreen or Christmas tree, which then correlates with the bio-compounds found in wine. 

For the most part, tannins provide a pucker, a sour note, if you will. When a bottle of wine goes bad, it has more vinegar taste and smell. This is easily identifiable compared to a full-bodied vintage. 


What red wines should you pick if you do not like Typical red wines?

If you find the full-bodied vintages have too much of a tannin flavoring, consider lightening up. Not strictly to white wines, but look for lighter-bodied vintages in the red section. 

Also, consider trying a Rosé; these wines are red wine grapes but skimmed like that of the white wine production process. 

Here is a list of some Red and Rosés to try:          

Red wine:


  • Schiava
  • Gamay
  • Pinot Noir


Rosé wines


  • Cabernet Franc Rosé
  • Mourvèdre Rosé
  • Tavel Rosé


Which bitter red wine varieties should you avoid if you do not like the taste?

Bitterness in the wine world lacks sweet, sugary, or fruit flavors. When the bitter taste is present, it usually is an indication of higher levels of acidity. There are three labels to avoid if the bitterness gets to be too much. 


  • Cabernet Franc – Chinon, France
  • Malbec- Cahors, Italy
  • Pinot Noir- Alto Ridge, Illinois, USA


How can you change the taste of Red Wine?

The simple of it all is to allow the wine to “breath.” Aeration of wine can be achieved in multiple ways, by opening the bottle and letting it sit or even pouring it into another glass container with an open top. 

This aeration gives the wine a new complexity, allowing the bottle’s oxygen to change the chemical composition. Other techniques include:


  • Pouring yourself a glass and leaving the bottle open.
  • Give the bottle an excellent shake after pouring out a portion.
  • Simply letting the red wine age in a wine cellar. 

Final Thoughts on Red Wine Tasting Bad

Red wines are going to have tannins in them. That is just the way that they are made. If you are not fond of the bitter notes, try lighter reds or rosés for a sweeter taste. 

When serving red wines, consider opening the bottle to let the wine breathe. This will change the flavor for a more pleasurable experience.