Most people store wine in the fridge, but how about other spirits or alcohol?
For example, I’ve heard that vermouth should be stored in fridge after opening, and consumes within a few months. I didn’t do it with my last bottle and didn’t seem to feel an obvious change after nearly a year of storage in room temperature. Another bottle a Brittany apple alcohol Chouchen (about 14% alcohol) goes a bit weird in the cupboard, with residue and colour changed.
How about you, what makes you decide what to put in the fridge.
For information, this question was first started in the French COTQ thread, about Pommeau (16 - 17% alc). I was curious as I need to open one soon, but read online that it should be kept in fridge after opening, but the bottle is very fat, and difficult to be kept in the fridge.
(John Hartley - a culinary patriot eating & cooking in Northwest England)
My partner keeps lager and white wine in the fridge but only so they are available to drink chilled.
While there are general answers to this question, we are learning that it is complicated. Quite a few recent wines that weren’t stellar in their first 24 hours open have developed into lovely bottles several days at room temp. And a sparkling pear cider that was close to disgusting at first blossomed into a delightful quaff after 48 hours at 68F.
Dessert wines are pretty forgiving and we often leave them out.
My current pommeau is unopened; I can’t remember how we have kept it in the past. Calvados and other eau de vies we leave out.
My original question was more oriented to the preservation of wine or alcohol after opening. But interesting to know about chilling of certain drinks before serving. What do you think of the aperitif type of alcohol that is best served chilled without ice. Will you chill the whole bottle and after the serving, put it back to a cupboard? I’m wondering the fluctuations of temperature and their impact to the spirit.
Mrs. P & I don’t have the refrigeration problem since there usually isn’t any leftover red wine to refrigerate We don’t drink white wine, but sometimes Mrs. P will use it for cooking, and will refrigerate any leftover white wine. We keep the ports at room temperature.
I refrigerate red vermouth (which we keep on hand for Manhattans and other cocktails) after opening because I find that the flavor goes south after a couple of weeks at room temp, and it takes us several months to finish a bottle. I usually don’t bother with white vermouth because I rarely use it for cocktails, only for cooking, and after cooking I don’t notice off flavors. If I have leftover wine I usually leave it on the counter as well, but I only use it for cooking and it tends to get used up quickly.
Liqueurs (Grand Marnier, Triple Sec, Cointreau, St. Germain, etc.) I leave at room temp unless I know I will be making chilled cocktails with them, in which case I will stick them in the fridge or freezer briefly. The high sugar content seems to preserve them.
Liquor like vodka, gin, whiskey, etc. I leave at room temp. We don’t drink mixed cocktails all that frequently, as we tend to favor scotch/whiskey/rye/bourbon straight up, and we prefer those “brown liquors” at cool room temp (around 60 degrees F). We keep our house cool in the winter, so no refrigeration necessary. In summer I keep marble “rocks” in the freezer to bring the temp of liquor down a few degrees without diluting it. If I know I am going to make a gin or vodka drink I will throw it in the freezer but that is rare - we are brown liquor people!
I generally err on the side of refrigeration. I don’t (ever) refrigerate “liquor” (plain distilled spirits), nor very sweet, especially higher ABV, liqueurs (I don’t know if it’s the sugar or the alcohol, or the combination of the two that “preserves” their flavor, but they they don’t seem to change much at room temperature even over long periods of time.) I rarely have “cream liqueurs” in the house, but unless they’re going to be finished in a couple of days (like at holiday time), they go into the fridge even before opening. i’ve had Bailey’s “go off” eventually even when kept in the fridge (“off” as in “pours out in chunks like spoiled milk”, not “minor changes in flavor” ), and I imagine that would happen all the sooner at room temperaure. (I think even the label advises refrigeration.)
If I expect to have keep them for a while (more than a few days), even higher ABV fortified wines but “pre-oxidized” wines like sherry go into the fridge (and come out long enough before serving to warm up), and fino definitely goes straight into the fridge. Other fortified wines are a greyer area. I do refrigerate Vermouth (which I mostly use for cooking anyway), but I’m quicker to refrigerate those with less than 16% ABV and that are dry/dryer. Except for some very sweet but high-acid dessert wines (like German Auslesen or sweeter) which I might leave out during the Winter for as long as a couple of days, table wines go straight into the fridge. I find that some very heavily-extracted but young wines (usually but not necessarily reds) can hold up for a day or two at room temperature, but in terms of any improvement of their flavor, my own experience is that that’s more an issue of oxygenation than “temperature”, and once they are oxygenated (usually by decanting, but maybe just by the air that enters the bottle as the wine is poured out) storage at room temperature doesn’t do them any favors… And I notice a decline in “ordinary” table wines very quickly if they’re left at room temperature, though for whatever the reasons, whites are generally more quickly affected than reds. Even in the fridge I find them overly oxidized after even a few days unless they’re vacuum sealed, and if they were open and at room temperature for several hours before sealing and refrigerating them, even a good vacuum extends their life by only so long.
I opened a 2000 Lirac, and it had some volatile organics. After being open for a few hours and then overnight in the fridge, capped, the volatiles dispersed and it was remarkably bright for a 20 year old wine.
I refrigerate my dry vermouth simply because I use it in martinis which need to be chilled, and that probably helps it slightly. Red vermouth I do not refrigerate, and have never had a problem of it going sour, even after a month. But I buy a cheap red. Maybe higher sugar content? There’s a $30 vermouth out there that I would damn well refrigerate if I had it!
All other booze stays room temp. Not big wine drinkers, but an open bottle wouldn’t last long enough to spoil.
I think sake is the only wine I’ve gone out of my way to refrigerate after opening.
One can check with their wine / liquor vendor or retailer.
Wines: Rosés or Whites need to be refrigerated or kept on a cold terrace …
Reds: Never refrigerate … However, use quickly as they turn “amontillado”, meaning that they turn into a brandy consistency however, not too pleasant … The deep black cherry or ruby toned reds turn into a brownish rust color …
Cook with left over wines is another option.
We have a small “wine closet” which is climate controlled and it was an excellent investment.
The Internet has alot of information as well on how to store wines, closed or opened bottles as well as liquors.
Your explanation of the alcohol you refrigerate, and why, is a useful guide for those who may have questions.
And your Bailey’s story cracks me up! Brings back a memory. When my husband and I were newly married, I warned him not to accept a drink from the unopened, non-refrigerated bottle of Bailey’s kept in reserve by a very dear family member who very rarely imbibed. I had seen the giant cheeseball congealed in the bottle because the liqueur had spoiled. The offered drink was a warm gesture of hospitality appreciated yet better declined. I loved this person and I love my husband, so that bottle remained on the person’s storage shelf undisturbed, never to be opened.
I refrigerate my Carpano Antica vermouth but not dry white vermouths. My house is sort of built into a hillside in San Francisco so the garage/wine cellar averages 58 degrees with good humidity so is pretty ideal for storing wine. It gets a little hotter in the summer but doesn’t fluctuate enough to harm the wine.