If you are a wine lover, you have most likely come across vermouth. Vermouth is a type of fortified wine that you use to make a cocktail. Vermouth contains a distilled spirit. Just like any other wine, there are two types of vermouth.
There is the sweet vermouth and dry vermouth. Sweet vermouth is usually caramel brown in color while dry vermouth is usually very light in color.
In the early days, people in Italy used vermouth for medicinal purposes. They also served it before dinner. It was quite popular. These days, vermouth is a key ingredient in most cocktails including the negronis and the martini. Some people incorporate vermouth into their cooking. If a dish requires them to use wine, they use vermouth instead.
I recently took an interest in vermouth and started using it in cooking. The first time I substituted wine with vermouth, I used the exact same amount I would have used if I was using wine. Long story short, I just did not enjoy the meal.
I did a little bit of research and noticed that it is more flavorful compared to wine and that is the reason why it overpowered my dish the first time. Anyway, I learned from my mistakes and now I am a self-proclaimed pro when it comes to cooking using vermouth.
Since you probably don’t make cocktails too often or cook with it, a bottle of vermouth can last for a long time. You may be asking yourself, does vermouth go bad?
Since vermouth is a fortified wine, it can last for a very long time. However, this does not mean that it is like those expensive wines that can be aged. When stored properly, vermouth can last for up to three years past the best by date.
The good thing about vermouth is how long it retains its good quality. You can open a bottle 3 years after you bought it and it would still have that amazing quality. Compared to other wines, vermouth retains its quality for a very long time.
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The shelf life of vermouth
Being a fortified wine, vermouth has a very long shelf life. You can’t age vermouth, but you can store it in your pantry or wine cellar for as long as 3 years. It is important to note that vermouth does not get better with time the way wine does. In fact, its quality deteriorates with time. However, it can last for much longer compared to some types of wine.
The alcohol in vermouth makes it almost impossible for bacteria and mold to grow. It also gives vermouth the self-preserving property. It is very rare for molds to grow in vermouth, but if they do, you have no choice but to toss it out.
Most bottles of vermouth usually have a best by date. It is important to note that the best by date is not an expiry date. If unopened, you can safely use your vermouth for up to three years past the best by date. If by chance your bottle does not have a best by date, just add 3 or 4 years to the production date. That’s how long your vermouth will retain its good quality.
If vermouth stays for more than for years, its quality starts to deteriorate. With time, it loses all its flavor and turns flat. It also loses its pleasant aroma. The vermouth may not exactly be spoilt, but you may decide to discard it for quality reasons. No one wants to use vermouth that has no flavor at all be it in cocktails or in cooking.
Once opened, dry vermouths will only retain their good quality and flavor for one month. After that, its quality starts to deteriorate. On the other hand, sweet vermouths retain their good quality and flavor for much longer. Once opened, it will retain its good quality for two months.
Different brands of vermouth give different suggestions of how long the vermouth will last after you have opened it. Some recommend that you use up the vermouth within three weeks of opening while others recommend that you use it within six weeks. When in doubt, just follow the recommendations on the bottle.
Proper storage of vermouth
Proper storage is key if you want your vermouth to retain its quality and flavor for a long time. Vermouth is just like any other wine. For this reason, you should store it in a cool and dark area. You should store the vermouth away from any sources of heat or light.
The kitchen cabinet and pantry are a great place to store your vermouth. If you have a liquor cabinet or a wine cellar, that’s even better.
If you decide to store vermouth in your kitchen cabinet, choose one that is not directly above the oven because heat tends to make the quality of vermouth deteriorate at a faster rate.
Your liquor cabinet shouldn’t also have glass doors because that will definitely let the sun in.
Once you open vermouth, make sure you seal the bottle tightly after every use before you store it. If you don’t, it will gradually lose its flavor and aroma.
Does vermouth need to be refrigerated?
Once you open your vermouth, I recommend that you refrigerate it unless you plan on finishing the bottle that same day. Storing it in the fridge will make it last for longer.
This does not mean that you cannot store vermouth in the pantry once you open it. You can.
The only issue is that its quality will deteriorate at a faster rate compared to if you had stored it in the refrigerator.
Cold temperatures inside your fridge will slow down the process of deterioration.
Can you freeze vermouth?
I don’t recommend freezing vermouth. If you freeze it, you will have to thaw it before using it. This will make the vermouth lose its flavor.
Freezing vermouth will make it lose its flavor at a faster rate compared to when you just store it in the pantry or the fridge.
I believe the shelf life of vermouth is quite long and there is absolutely no need to freeze it. However, if freezing it will give you peace of mind, transfer the vermouth to an airtight container before placing it in the freezer.
Signs that your vermouth has gone bad
In case you have stored your vermouth for a long time whether opened or unopened, you may be wondering if it is still safe to consume or it has gone bad. Luckily for you, there are a few signs you can look out for in order to decide if it is still safe to use.
Here are a few signs that your vermouth has gone bad.
Change in color
Sweet vermouth is usually caramel brown in color while dry vermouth is usually very light. If you notice any color change in your vermouth, it has gone bad.
You should definitely not use it to make that cocktail that you badly want.
Generally, vermouth has a very pleasing odor. If you open your bottle of vermouth and notice that it has a strange or bad odor, chances are that it has gone bad. Discard it and get a new bottle.
Although it is extremely rare, molds can actually grow inside your bottle of vermouth. If you look inside your bottle and notice molds growing especially around the neck of the bottle, your vermouth is no longer safe to use.
Do not try to salvage it by pouring it into another bottle. You might get sick if you use it.
Contaminants floating on the surface of your vermouth
If you pour the vermouth into a glass and notice contaminants floating on the surface, it is no longer safe to use.
There is a possibility that you did not seal the bottle well after use thus giving room for contaminants to get into the bottle. Discard the entire bottle and get another one.
If there are no other signs of spoilage but on testing the vermouth you notice that it has no flavor completely, it has probably stayed for too long and gradually lost its flavor. There is also a possibility that you did not store it properly and consequently, it deteriorated at a faster rate. You can choose to discard it for quality reasons or use it to make a cheap cocktail.
In case none of the above signs are present, your vermouth is still in good shape and it is definitely safe to use. Its quality my not exactly be the same as when you first bought it, but you definitely won’t get sick if you use it.
Cocktails that have vermouth as an ingredient
Here is a list of cocktails that has vermouth as an ingredient just in case you are feeling creative and in the mood to experiment with cocktails.
- Vermouth & tonic
- Blood and sand
- Dry Martini
- Rob Roy
- Vodka Martini
- Dirty Martini
- Bitter orange
Try making them and let me know how they turn out.