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Wine vs. Beer vs. Liquor: Which Has The Longest Shelf Life?

Have you ever fantasized about building a wine cellar or bar in your dream house? Well, the alcoholic beverages that adorn these fancy constructions may not be as easy to maintain as they seem, especially if you entertain guests often. 

The shelf life of different types of alcohol is difficult to determine because liquor, beer and wine are composed of different ingredients and are developed through various processes. The only commonality the different types of alcohol have is that they were made by fermentation, when the yeast breaks down sugar content then forms ethanol and carbon dioxide in the absence of oxygen. 

The factors that could make a difference to shelf life among various alcoholic products are temperature changes, light exposure and chemical oxidation. 

How Long Does Liquor Last ?

Liquor includes gin, tonic, whiskey, tequila, absinthe, brandy, scotch and rum. The moment the liquor is sealed and bottled, the quality will not decline. Once opened, it can last without expiration for about six to eight months and without a change in taste. For the uninitiated, it may take a year to recognize that taste has changed for the worse.

To preserve liquor, it is best to keep it in a cool and dark place. No need to store in a freezer except for cream liquors. The bottles should not be placed horizontally and must be left in upright or vertical positions to prevent any contact with metal caps. This is done to avoid corrosion from mixing with the liquor content.  

Storage is also important to stop evaporation of the liquor, which can also oxidize if the bottle is left open in dry cabinets. On the contrary, distilled spirits from fruit and spices does not spoil six months after opening. 

Alcohol A range of alcoholic beverages. Flickr/ Matthew (m_ship22)

Does Beer Last Longer?

Bottled beer does not last very long either. It is in good quality six to eight months post it is opened on an ordinary shelf but to preserve it longer, it can be stored inside a refrigerator.  

Beer with high alcohol content can last longer without refrigeration. This is not the case with unpasteurized and low quality beer. However, mass manufactured beers are always pasteurized and without the presence of pathogens that are destroyed during the heating process. 

Unpasteurized beer can last up to three months, while the pasteurized kind can last up to a year. Beer should be ideally stored in a place with consistent temperature that also has a cool and dark atmosphere. Drinking it as soon as it is opened is best. 

What About Wine ? 

The fact that wine gets better with age only holds true for white wines but not the cheap variety, which can last up to two years after bottling. Organic wines should be drunk sooner, possibly within three to six months after it is bought. 

Fortified wines should be consumed within 28 days of opening the bottle. When it comes to sparkling wines, it should be drunk as soon as it is opened. It can be refrigerated with the help of an air-tight cap and drunk within three days as well as once opened.  

Corked wine is best stored horizontally or sideways, which is not how liquor and beer is meant to be stored. A cool and dry environment without any gap for sunlight could preserve most of its quality and flavor. Opened wine should be drunk within three to seven days, however, cork them and put them back in the fridge when not used.