- Spirits or liquors like vodka, tequila, rum, gin, brandy, and whiskey can be left out at room temperature, or chilled depending on personal preference, according to beverage expert Anthony Caporale.
- White wine, champagne, beer, and cider should all be chilled in the refrigerator prior to consumption, per Caporale.
- There are two main categories of beverage alcohols: fermented and distilled, according to Caporale.
The alcohol industry is a billion dollar business in the US. According to the Distilled Spirits Council’s sales report released in Feb. 2018, supplier sales toppled out at $US26.2 billion in 2017 – that’s up to $US1 billion more from the previous year. Given that people are spending so generously on booze, it begs the question, “Are people storing their alcohol properly?”
Some spirits are meant to be left out in your liquor cabinet, while other types of alcohol are better off left to chill in your refrigerator. Anthony Caporale, beverage expert, and director of Spirits Education at Institute of Culinary Education’s New York campus, told INSIDER it’s important to understand the difference between fermented beverages and distilled beverages before your next trip to the liquor store.
“There are two main categories of beverage alcohols: fermented and distilled. Fermented beverages, like wine, cider, beer, and mead – also known as honey wine – are a one-step process. This means they you add yeast to a sugar solution and get a fermented beverage, usually with low alcohol content,” said Caporale. “If you take a fermented beverage and put it in a still, that will give you a spirit or liquor that’s a distilled beverage and those typically have a higher alcohol content.”
Fermented beverages are best kept in the fridge, while distilled drinks can be left out. There are a few exceptions to the rules.
Here are the 10 types of alcohol you should keep in the fridge before you pour your next drink.
Port wine is fermented.
Port wine is a sweet, dark red wine that hails from Portugal. It’s often thought of as a dessert wine because of its rich flavour. Caporale told INSIDER that this drink, just like beer, cider, and other wines, is a fermented beverage. The alcohol content of fermented beverages is usually between three to 5% on the low end and 10 to 15% on the high end, per Caporale.
“Anything that is fermented, because it has lower alcohol content is not going to be shelf stable. What makes liquor and spirits stable at room temperature is the alcohol content. Alcohol is a preservative and it kills any of the microorganisms that might cause off flavours or further processes to happen like additional fermentation,” said Caporale. “Therefore, wines, Ports, and Sherries – those kinds of things all need to be refrigerated.”
Beer is usually served at 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Beer drinkers often like to kick back and crack open a cold one. This isn’t a drink you would pour over ice, so it’s important to put it in the refrigerator. This process allows the beer – a fermented beverage – to cool to desirable drinking temperature.
“When you are talking about initial service before you open it, obviously beer is almost always chilled, especially in the US,” Caporale said. “We like to keep it around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s the standard service temperature for beer.”
Many prefer vodka to be served chilled.
Caporale said this is the most popular spirit that people tend to put in the fridge. He noted that vodka can be left out at room temperature, but that many people prefer it to be chilled.
“The spirit that most people put in the fridge is vodka,” said Caporale. “And vodka is also oftentimes stored in the freezer. Anything with an alcohol level of above 35% you can store in the freezer and it won’t freeze because of the alcohol content. You can pour a small glass of vodka, you can sip it and you do have to add ice to dilute it.”
Jägermeister is sweet.
Caporale notes that people often prefer sweeter liqueurs to be served chilled. Jägermeister falls into that category.
“There are some liquors that people prefer chilled. Those usually are the ones that are a little sweet. Jägermeister is served chilled,” said Caporale. “In some bars, you’ll see that they might have Jägermeister run through a bar top chiller so that you can do one shot glass of Jager chilled without having to dilute it further with ice.”
White wine is best served at 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Popular white wines include Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. If you’ve ever been out to a restaurant or bar and ordered a glass of white wine, it likely came chilled. This one always goes in the refrigerator, according to Caporale.
“There’s a great rule of thumb out there that says to store white wine in the refrigerator and take it out 15 minutes before you serve it,” said Caporale. “That will allow it to warm up, but not too much. White wine is best served at 50 degrees Fahrenheit, but you don’t have to get too technical with the temperature.”
Red wine is supposed to be served at 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
This one might come as a bit of a surprise, as red wine is generally served at room temperature. Caporale recommends sticking a bottle of red in the refrigerator prior to serving.
“If you have a bottle of red wine stored at room temperate, put it in the refrigerator 15 minutes before you are going to serve it,” says Caporale. “That will allow it to chill down a little bit before you serve it. Room temperature is 68, and I like to serve red wine at 55 degrees Fahrenheit or 56 degrees Fahrenheit.”
Baileys Irish Cream is usually served straight up.
Like Jagermeister, Baileys Irish Cream and other sweetened liqueurs are best kept in the refrigerator.
“Baileys and other similar liqueurs generally don’t need to be refrigerated, but they absolutely can be. A lot of people prefer that sweet style of spirit at a colder temperature,” said Caporale. “That’s usually because you aren’t mixing it with anything. This way you can serve it in a cordial glass so that it is nice and cold. You can sip it and it is very pleasant.”
Champagne is best served at 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
The celebratory drink should typically be refrigerated prior to serving. Caporale said the ideal temperature for champagne is 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The Food and Drug Administration recommends keeping your refrigerator set to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. If you follow this rule of thumb, you will be able to break out the bubbly and serve it right away.
“Once you open it, it’s usually important to refrigerate it in order to keep fresh. Generally, it will usually last for about a week or two or three depending on what the actual alcohol content is,” said Caporale. In that case, you are refrigerating them to preserve them after you open them.”
Limoncello doesn’t have a high alcohol content.
This one doesn’t have a very high alcohol content, but many people prefer to enjoy this type of liqueur cold, like Baileys Irish Cream or other sweetened liqueurs.
“You can put this one in the refrigerator usually be anywhere from two to three hours prior to serving, or overnight so you don’t have to put it over ice,” said Caporale. “You can chill any spirit – that’s how we make 95% of mixed drinks. But, in doing so, we add ice and that adds dilution, which is actually a good thing, but some people prefer certain spirits not diluted. One way to avoid that is to chill the liqueur before serving.”
Schnapps is sometimes consumed neat.
Caporale notes that people tend to put this one in the refrigerator because they are often consumed in a small cordial glass.
“You can put schnapps and other similar alcoholic drinks in the fridge. This allows you to serve them neat, which means take it right from the bottle into the glass – you don’t mix it with anything,” said Caporale. “You don’t do anything to it. If you want that to be served cold, then the only way to do that is to store it in the fridge.”
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