Great question! Yes, after opening it, it is recommended to be refrigerated. In doing so, it will keep its flavor and color.
Sour or bad red wine grapes are used to make red wine vinegar. Acetic acid formulates as the sugar from the grapes becomes consumed by the yeast. The acid is the ingredient that provides vinegar its sharp flavors and identifiable taste.
Even though red wine vinegar is already sour, if it is not properly stored after opening, it can still fragment even further. The vinegar will become vulnerable to evaporation when exposed to air for long periods of time which will result in loss of flavor.
Refrigerating Red Wine Vinegar
Vinegar has natural engrained acidity that provides antibacterial properties. However, as soon as it’s opened it needs to be refrigerated in order to keep its quality. To get the longest possible shelf life from red wine vinegar, it has to be sealed tightly after opening.
Red wine vinegar will last up to 8 months if stored in in the frig, and will last 2-3 months when placed in a dark, cool location.
Best Ways for Refrigerating Red Wine Vinegar
Below are the best ways to prolong the life of your red wine vinegar:
- Store your red wine vinegar in ceramic or glass. No metal within the container as vinegar will naturally react to metal which can cause corrosion.
- This is very important; the top should be secured tightly so no air is allowed in as this can cause evaporation.
- Be sure to put the date on the bottle when stored as a reminder to use within the use by date.
- Store your red wine vinegar bottle or container in the refrigerator. If you can’t fit your bottle in the frig, the next best way is in a cool, dark place.
How to Know if Red Wine Vinegar Has Gone Bad
It can go bad. If exposed to air, it can lose its flavor and also evaporate. It can look brown when it’s placed in warm location and has begun to cook.
Red wine vinegar can become cloudy looking and have a disagreeable smell when it is improperly stored for a long time. Sometimes the cork can get wet and will begin developing mold. That can ooze into your vinegar resulting in deterioration of the quality, giving it a bad smell.
Knowing When to Toss It
Typically, red wine vinegar does not have an expiration date. Theoretically, you can keep it a very long time, or until you use it up.
Although your health is not at risk, your recipes could in regards to color, aroma or flavor.
Before all your hard work is ruined by adding red wine vinegar that has aged to your recipes, smell and taste it first. Your sauce or salads may pay the price if your vinegar seems off.
As long as it smells and taste alright, it is okay to remove any cloudy or solid sediment and then use it. However, if the quality has changed, it could change the flavor of your recipe, not for the good, so it’s best just to toss it or put it use for a non-cooking purpose. Keep in mind though, your next stop at the store, you may want to pick up a fresh bottle.
Another good tip is to keep a bottle of white, plain vinegar for a backup. White vinegar will unlikely worsen over time.
There are several different ways to put your vinegar to good use around the garden and house. It truly makes a great veggie and fruit wash because of its antimicrobial properties.
A few more good ideas:
- Cleaning veggies and fruits: just put a few tablespoons in a bowl of cold water to clean your veggies. Red wine has acetic acid which is effective at getting rid of E. coli.
- Make your disposal fresher: Put the vinegar in some ice cube trays and freeze it. The put some into your garbage disposal for a refresh.
- Killing weeds: Add some red wine vinegar to a spray bottle, spray your weeds, problem solved!
- Easter egg coloring: Use about a ½ cup hot water, add 1 teaspoon of vinegar and a bit of food coloring.
When stored and handled correctly, red wine vinegar could last for years. Of course, you have to keep it from direct light, sealed tightly. As long as it is stored in a dark, cool place or kept in the frig, it will serve you for a very long time.
It is absolutely safe to use red wine vinegar, even if it is old. It cannot keep bacteria that is harmful because of the volume of acidic acid.
Remember, you can strain any cloudiness or solids from the bottle if it appears darker than usual. This can happen over time if it is opened often.
Also, in time, it may begin to taste or smell a bit off. If that’s the case, use a new bottle of red wine vinegar for your recipes and take advantage of the good uses of the old bottle.