Home & Living

Are You Storing Your Booze Wrong?

For the most part, wine, beers, and liqueurs have a long shelf life thanks to their high alcohol content and complex sugars -- both of which are preservatives. However, to make the most of your liquor cabinet and wine rack, you'll need to know some basics for alcohol storage.
08/11/2015 07:56pm ET | Updated August 11, 2016

For the most part, wine, beers, and liqueurs have a long shelf life thanks to their high alcohol content and complex sugars -- both of which are preservatives. However, to make the most of your liquor cabinet and wine rack, you'll need to know some basics for alcohol storage.

If you're a wine aficionado, beer nerd, or budding whiskey enthusiast, read below for the best ways to store your beloved booze:

Red Wine

Red wine is a common alcohol for storage, as many people simply have a glass (or two) with dinner, then save the rest of the bottle for later. Whether it's a brand new bottle or you've had a few glasses and re-cork it, wine needs to be stored in a cool environment (ideally between 45 degrees and 65 degrees Fahrenheit).

If the wine gets too warm, it will get flat and you won't taste those robust, vine-ripened flavors that make red wine so great. Warmer temperatures will also cause wooden corks to expand, which allows air to seep in -- resulting in bad wine. Keep red wine away from sunlight -- this too can alter the wine's chemical structure.

If you can, buy a wine rack that stores the bottles sideways. Not only does this save space, but it also keeps the cork hydrated -- preserving the shelf life of your wine. Once it's in the rack, let it be: Wine is best left undisturbed until you're ready to enjoy it.

White Wine

Unlike red wine, white wine varietals aren't typically aged as long. However, they still require some storage IQ to taste great. According to Vintage Cellars, you'll want to aim for 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit for white wine storage.

Sparkling wines (like champagne and prosecco) will need to be stored on the cooler side of the scale, while full-bodied white wine (think chardonnay) can be stored on the higher end of the scale.

Like red wine, white wine bottles should be re-corked after opening and stored on their sides to prevent cork dehydration. Often, white wines will keep in the fridge for a few days after reopening. Keep in mind that in the case of red or white wine, if the bottle has sat out too long, it can still be used for cooking.

Beer

With basic domestic macro brews, you can keep the beers tucked in the fridge from three to six months and they'll still be perfectly fine to drink. However, as you're likely aware, craft beer is king, and with its popularity comes an entirely different storage system.

Similar to red wine, some craft beers actually benefit from a maturation process. According to Beer Advocate, these include Belgian strong ales, lambics, imperial stouts, old ales, and barleywine. For the most part, you can store beers upright unless they have a wooden cork, in which case you might want to store the bottles sideways in the fridge (though this is a very rare exception).

However, once you open a beer, it's best to enjoy it in its entirety. For one, warm beer isn't the greatest. Secondly, most beer can't be re-sealed like wine and liquor-- so it will lose its fizziness and go flat after a few hours. For the most part, beers (like wine) can be stored in temperatures between 45 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Liquors

Whether it's vodka, rum, or whiskey, liquors can be stored at room temperature whether they're opened or unopened. Over time, though, the flavor and alcohol content will dissipate, so there is no need to continue to age finer bourbons and scotch. Once their out of the distillery, it's in your best interest to let the sipping and nightcaps begin!

A lot of people like to store lighter liquors like vodka, light rum, and gin in the freezer, but there is no evidence that this makes them last longer (though it's great if you like extra-chilled martinis).

Keep in mind that cream and berry liqueurs last around one year before they start to go bad, so look for expiration dates before shaking up those dessert cocktails. A cool, dark place with a constant temperature is great for liquor and wine storage, which is why liquor cabinets are a perfect idea for apartment dwellers (hey, we can't all afford a cellar).

That should cover the basics for booze storage. Be sure to keep these tips in mind next time you're planning on long-term storage for those adult beverages. Cheers!

Suggest a correction