Does Vermouth Go Bad? How Long Does It last?

Vermouth can be served as a cocktail, martini, or on its own, a classy and timeless drink since the Greek ages.

If you’ve got a bottle of vermouth you’d like to enjoy, you’re probably wondering how long it lasts. Does vermouth go bad, or can this drink be used for years to come without worries?

Yes, Like alcoholic drinks, vermouth has a long shelf life with proper storage. However, that doesn’t mean it will never lose its quality or flavor (we learned that the hard way).

Read on to learn all about the shelf life of vermouth and about how it can go bad here!

What is Vermouth?

image of bottle of vermouth shelf life

Vermouth is a fortified wine made of white grapes with various spices and ingredients to add to its flavor. (*)

It used to be for medicinal purposes but is now a major ingredient in various cocktails. Personally, we consume it as a trendy aperitif drink!

Sweet vermouth has a 10-15% sugar content, while dry vermouth would have a sugar content lower than 5%. Its alcohol content is between 16-18%.


Does Vermouth Go Bad?

Technically, we can keep vermouth indefinitely without going bad.

That’s because it’s an alcoholic product with self-preserving properties. Because of its high alcohol content, it’s resistant to bacteria and mold growth, making it have a long shelf life, even longer compared to wine but not long enough compared to hard liquor.

Different factors cause vermouth to have a dull, flat flavor over time, such as:

1.   Microbial Spoilage

Bacteria and mold love live in moist environments where there is a lot of food available.

Alcohol and aromatic herbs in vermouth help fight microbial growth, but eventually, the bacteria and mold can come, especially in unopened bottles.

2.   Aroma Loss

When pouring vermouth out of its bottle, you replace liquid with air. Volatile aromatics would escape from the wine that remains, filling the headspace. This results in less aromatic and bad vermouth that we won’t want you to ever try drinking.

3.   The Fridge

While the fridge can help opened vermouth bottles last long, the cold temperatures can slow down both chemical and physical processes. Sometimes, the very cold temperatures in a fridge can end up in your vermouth, losing its flavor and quality.

4.   Oxidation

Oxygen would react with various volatile aromatic compounds that help give vermouth flavor. Compounds that will lose their electrons then bind with oxygen are reducing agents, which contain phenols. White wine from vermouth is vulnerable to oxidation compared to red wine.


Shelf Life of Dry and Sweet Vermouth

So, how long does vermouth last?

We recommend you to use vermouth as soon as you can since taste great fresh. However, it can last for a few years in your wine cellar or pantry.

In general, an unopened bottle of vermouth has a shelf life of 3-4 years. If your vermouth bottle has an expiration date, add 2-3 years on top of that date.

That said, it doesn’t automatically mean that vermouth will go bad even after the said shelf life. It just means that its quality will decrease over time.

What about an unopened bottle of dry or sweet vermouth?

Once opened, they can still last pretty long and keep their quality. Expect it to last for a few weeks to months, depending on how you store it. That said, we suggest finishing that opened bottle of vermouth within 3 weeks of opening it to ensure good quality.

Another thing to consider is the type of vermouth you are using. Dry vermouth can last for 3-4 weeks, while sweet vermouth may last for longer, around 2 months. That’s because sugar in sweet vermouth acts as a preserving agent, helping it last longer.

We need you to take note that these are merely educated guesses based on reports from dry and sweet vermouth users, so you may want to stick with consuming it within a month after opening it.

If not stored properly or sits around for over 2 months after opening it, it loses flavor and quality. You won’t get sick over the vermouth since it hasn’t gone bad, but expect it not to have the same flavors it did while it was still newly opened. 

Signs That Tell If Vermouth Has Gone Bad

Again, vermouth doesn’t go bad. However, there are chances that bottles are contaminated with air pollutants. And, of course, the loss of quality.

It’s best to double-check and know the signs that tell if vermouth has gone bad. We show you what to watch out for:

1.   Smell and color

Smell the vermouth and observe. If it smells weird or the color has changed significantly since opening the bottle, it’s best to go for a newer one.

After all, you wouldn’t want your guests tasting flat spirits or off-smelling vermouths. That just kills your party’s vibe!

2.   The taste

The obvious sign is through tasting the vermouth. Vermouth needs to have that bright and aromatic flavor. Vermouth that’s been sitting for too long would taste flat and dull. Older bottles of vermouth would be unpleasant to drink and taste way different than they did before.

We have heard people say they find sediments on the bottom of the bottle. No worries, as this is normal. That sediment is tartrate crystal, an acid that occurs naturally from the wine production process. Allow that sediment to settle at the bottom before you pour vermouth or filter it using a sieve.

Drinking old vermouth that’s gone past its best-by date won’t hurt you. BUT, it’s not a pleasurable experience since it smells and tastes off!

It’s definitely not something you’ll want to add to your cocktail or drink straight up. Trust us, we know the off-flavors, and you can live without ever knowing what it tastes like.

How to Store a Bottle of Vermouth

How can you store vermouth well so it can last longer after opening the bottle? Here are a few tips you could follow:

1.   Place it in the proper place

We recommend storing vermouths the same way one stores wine. Please keep it in a cool and dark place, without any heat sources or sunlight exposure.

The best storage option is in the pantry, or you can store it in a kitchen cabinet or liquor cabinet. Just make sure that the cabinet you store it in doesn’t have any glass doors. For unopened bottles, we recommend keeping vermouth at room temperature (still cool enough to prevent heat from ruining its quality).

If you opened the bottle already, you might want to store it in the refrigerator for the quality to last a bit longer compared to room temperature. We urge you to avoid freezing vermouth since it will lose its flavor when it thaws. Its alcohol content isn’t high enough to withstand freezing, so that it will harden at low temperatures.

2.   Keep it tightly sealed

After opening the bottle of vermouth, make sure that you keep the bottle tightly sealed using its original cap when you aren’t using it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are more things you need to learn about vermouth:

1. Do vermouths spoil in heat?

YES, vermouth goes bad when exposed to heat. It is sensitive to heat and should be placed in a cool, dry room away from any heat sources of high temperatures.

2. Do vermouths spoil if unopened?

NO, Vermouth does not spoil, but opening it and letting it be for over a month will definitely have it taste unpleasant. It ends up with off scents and flavors you wouldn’t want to consume, which is why it’s best to use vermouth weeks within opening it.

3. Do vermouths spoil if not refrigerated?

NO, Opened bottles of vermouths do not spoil if left unrefrigerated, but they will have a shorter lifespan compared to refrigerated bottles of vermouth. After opening your bottle of vermouth, keep it in the refrigerator for it to maintain its flavor for up to 1 month.

Wrapping It Up

Whether you have dry or sweet vermouth, it’s important to use it while it’s still fresh, or at least within weeks after owning an opened bottle. This helps vermouth last longer and has its taste good for your martini, Manhattan, or other beverage choices in your home bar!

We hope this article answers your question, “Does vermouth go bad?” Keep your vermouths in proper storage so you can continue enjoying your cocktails for a long time!

Up Next: Does Baileys Go Bad?

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