Spirits don’t go bad. Many actually improve in the bottle, even after they’ve been opened. Prime example: scotch. Gin, vodka, brandy, various whiskeys, rum, tequila, etc. They won’t go bad due to the high alcohol content.


One exception might be brandies — authentic brandies (or Cognac). Some say they’ll oxidize over time (years, not months), especially in an opened bottle. This won’t make you sick, but it may taste a little “off.” Bailey’s Irish Cream is another exception. It should be consumed pretty quickly. Even in the fridge, it doesn’t last forever. Six months is more like it.



Wines, as a category, don’t have “best by” dates, but most are made to be drunk young. Unopened and stored properly, they have a long shelf life. According to, fine wines may improve with age as the tannins soften and other chemical changes take place.



Domestic beer has a half life of three or four months. Six months from the date of brewing, it may “turn.” Imported brews last a year after bottling. explains, “Beer cans are always stamped on the bottom. Bottles are usually on the necks, but sometimes the date is on the label. Most American beers use expiration dates, but some use bottling/canning dates. Now, things get confusing because each brewery uses its own product-dating system. Go to for help deciphering your favorites.




A lot has to do with how alcoholic beverages are stored.


Wine will turn to vinegar if exposed to sunlight or hot temperatures. Some wine is meant to drink quickly (white zinfandel), while others don’t taste good until they’ve aged for 10 or 20 years. As a rule, wine stays “good” for at least 6 months — as long as it wasn’t sitting on the counter by your stove.


And beer, as we all know, will skunk if it’s been in the sun or kept at hot temperatures. So keep it in the fridge.