No James Bond-themed party is complete without his classic, “shaken not stirred,” vodka martini.
But before you start showing off your barista skills, did you check if that old vermouth stored in your pantry is any good?
Does vermouth go bad at all?
In this article, you’ll find the answer. I’ll also show you how to store vermouth and extend its shelf life.
Let’s jump straight in!
How Long Does Vermouth Last?
Vermouth is not one of those wines that age gracefully. That means that it tastes best within the first few years.
To get a better clue of how long your bottle of vermouth is good for, check the label. It will have a “best by” dated printed on it in most cases.
Unopened, vermouth will stay fresh for about 2 to 3 years past that date at room temperature. If stored in the fridge, it might be good for another year or so.
In most cases, vermouth won’t go bad after that much time either. But its quality will degrade after a few years of being stored away.
|Unopened vermouth||Best by + 2 to 3 years||Best by + 3 to 4 years|
|Opened dry vermouth||Variable||1 month|
|Opened sweet vermouth||Variable||2 months|
Once you pop the bottle open, the shelf life of vermouth drastically decreases. If you can’t go through the entire bottle on a single drinking occasion, you absolutely must store it in the fridge.
And not just that, but the bottle has to be sealed properly. Dry vermouth will stay fresh for about a month when stored in the fridge properly.
On the other hand, sweet vermouth will be good for another month or so. That’s because it has a high sugar content, which acts as a preserving agent.
How To Tell If Vermouth Is Bad
Since it’s an alcoholic drink, it’s unlikely it will go bad in a traditional sense of the word.
Alcohol is not a hospitable environment for mold. That can only happen if vermouth was contaminated during the making process. But considering that wineries go through strict sanitary controls, that’s very unlikely to happen.
Now, vermouth is a result of fermentation. And once you open the bottle, the air interacts with wine molecules and causes them to oxidize. And if you don’t seal the bottle after use, it will eventually turn into vinegar.
And while vinegar is a staple in the kitchen, it’s definitely not something you want to add to your Martini.
Thanks to the strong and pungent smell, you can easily notice once vermouth oxidizes. The flavor will also turn sour and bitter, just like vinegar. But while unpleasant, oxidized vermouth won’t harm your health.
If you keep it stored properly, vermouth might not turn into vinegar. But it will definitely lose its freshness over time. Again, you can still consume it, but it won’t be as potent as before.
How To Store Vermouth
Unopened bottles of Vermouth should be stored like any other wine, in a cool and dark place. The ideal temperature for storing wine is between 52 and 57 degrees Fahrenheit.
This makes the pantry an excellent option. If you don’t have one, a kitchen cabinet that’s away from the stove is fine.
Once you open the bottle, vermouth is susceptible to oxidation. The higher the temperature, the faster it ferments.
But when you store vermouth in the fridge, the low temperature keeps the yeasts inside inactive. Of course, that is given that you keep the bottle tightly sealed and away from oxygen.
Theoretically, a freezer is another storage option for vermouth. But it’s not the one I’d suggest.
First, liquor doesn’t freeze at the same temperature water does. The lower the alcohol content, the lower the freezing point is.
At around 18%, vermouth is a low-alcohol drink. As such, it freezes at 22 degrees Fahrenheit. Most freezers don’t go as low, which means vermouth might not freeze completely.
What’s more, vermouth, like any other wine, doesn’t like sudden changes in temperature. Tartaric acid, the main compound that gives vermouth its flavor, turns into crystals at cool temperatures.
The process of crystallization strips vermouth of its aroma and taste. Plus, it creates sediment that looks unappealing.
Another downside to freezing vermouth is that you can’t keep it in the original bottle. Since it’s a liquid, vermouth will expand as it freezes. But because the bottle is sealed, two things can happen.
The expansion will create pressure against the glass, and at some point, it will break into tiny pieces inside your freezer.
Alternatively, the air pressure will push the cork open and leave the content exposed to air. After some time, too much oxidation will cause vermouth to ferment into vinegar. What’s even worse, the entire content of your freezer will smell like that too.
Because its flavor weakens once thawed, vermouth intended for drinking shouldn’t be frozen. But, you can store it in the freezer if you plan on using it for cooking instead.
Vermouth is a great wine substitute that works in a variety of dishes. Just keep in mind that it has a more complex flavor profile, so a small amount goes a long way.
Pour vermouth into an ice cube tray and let it freeze. Once solid, take out the cubes and transfer them to a freezer bag. Grab a straw and take as much air out as possible before completely sealing it.
If you use it regularly, stocking up on vermouth bottles is not a bad idea. Even at room temperature, it will stay fresh for at least a few more years after the date on the label.
Once opened, you’ll have to keep it sealed in the fridge. When stored properly, vermouth will stay fresh for a month or two.