Posted: Apr 19, 2013 12:00 PM
It's a crime to let a bottle of wine go unfinished, but do you know when alcohol expires? From wine expiration dates to the shelf life of beer and other spirits, find out how long you have to empty your liquor cabinet.

Wine expiration dates

bottle of wine

Whether you fancy a glass of rosé or can be seen sipping on a bottle of cabernet, "Alcohol is a perishable product and must be stored correctly," explains BevMo! Cellar Master Wilfred Wong. While most liquor stays stable when unopened, "wines are different. In general, everyday value wines have a maximum life of three years. Most rosés and fruity wines should be enjoyed in the first year of their existence, but can last a bit beyond that. Expensive, ultra-premium wines can last up to 10 years, but only the very special wines, in great vintages can go 20+ years."

To ensure that your bottle of vino last until you're ready to uncork, Wong offers these wine storage guidelines: "Most wines, for everyday use are fine if kept in the 55F to 65F range. Delicate ultra-premium Rieslings and cellar-worthy dry white wines should be kept in the 45F to 50F. Ultra-premium red wines should be keep as close to 55F as possible, but can go as high as 65F."

liquor bottle

Spoil rate of spirits

From tequila to vodka to gin and more, "spirits have a long life, if stored well — upwards of 10 years," states Wong. However, if you are storing spirits that contain cream (liquor like Irish cream) whether opened, unopened or stored in a fridge or not, has a shelf life of 30 months and taste guarantee of two years from the day it was made. "All spirits should be stored in a cool place of even temperatures and are best kept out of direct sunlight or excessive hot lamps. A closet, cabinet, or wine fridge are the best choices if you don't have a cellar. The kitchen is generally too warm. Place items in a cabinet as far from the appliances as possible."

Shelf life of beer can of beer

While sipping on an old brewsky won't send you to the hospital, drinking a beer beyond its expiration date can taste skunky. "Beers are best kept in the 60F to 70F range, even temperatures and away from any heat fixtures," advises Wong. So, as long as your pint isn't opened, it's safe to crack open a cold one.

Although you know the answers to the burning question of when alcohol expires, your best bet is to check the expiration date and "best consumed before date" on the bottle. Just keep in mind that regardless of when alcohol spoils, the shelf life of beers, wine and other liquor can mean the difference between a great tasting drink and one that leaves a bad taste in your mouth!

Read more about liquor

DIY Wine bottle crafts any mom can make
3 Classic rum cocktails to try

Wine and chocolate pairings