It’s important to know how to store alcohol-free drinks if we want to enjoy them at their best. I’m sure plenty of us haven’t paid attention to how we store drinks in the past, which you can get away with when it comes to full-strength drinks as alcohol is a preservative. Full strength drinks are therefore more forgiving than products that don’t contain alcohol. Here are some things to consider when you are thinking about how to store alcohol-free drinks.
Dark and chilled
Beers that have off-flavours and aromas due to exposure to sunlight are described as ‘light-struck’, you can check out this article from Masters Of Malt to find out more (be aware that they sell alcohol alongside their excellent alcohol-free range and that their article makes reference to full strength products). This can also impact wines and other products stored in glass containers. You’ll notice that colour, flavour, and aroma may be affected. As a general rule, avoid storing products in direct sunlight or under intense florescent lighting. Temperature is probably the most important conisideration when it comes to alcohol-free drinks. If in doubt, store things chilled.
How to store alcohol-free wine
Store your alcohol-free wine somewhere cool, even the reds. Fridge temperature is best, but a cellar, garage, or cool cupboard will do. If you want to drink your red at a warmer temperature, just take it out of the fridge an hour or so before serving. If you won’t be drinking it in one sitting, it’s best to return it to the fridge, and consume it within a couple of days. You can probably get away with leaving it for up to 4 days, but remember the product has no alcohol in it, and alcohol usually helps to protect the flavour for longer. You may have seen the old teaspoon trick used to keep fizz fresh, but this is a myth. To keep fizz bubbly, it’s worth investing in a good bottle stopper and consuming it within two days.
How to store alcohol-free spirits
As much as a well stocked drinks cart may look fabulous, my advise is not to open too many spirits at once. I used to love the idea of a vintage globe drinks cabinet heaving with everything I needed for making cocktails at home. This is fine with full-strength spirits, but is not realistic with alcohol-free spirits. Check the labels for storage advice, most spirits will tell you to consume them within a couple of months, some up to six months. While they don’t need to be kept in the fridge before you open them, you should keep them somewhere chilled and out of direct sunlight. My advice is not to open too many products at once, stick to two or three open at any one time and finish those before starting something new. I would also recommend storing them in the fridge or in a cool pantry once opened. Open things that are very contrasting in flavour and style so you have variety at your disposal, you can experiment with mixers and garnish to suit the occasion and keep things exciting.
How to store alcohol-free drinks that contain live bacteria
This is perhaps the most important category to give special care to when storing. Products like kombucha and kefir that contain live bacteria have the potential to begin a secondary fermentation if not stored correctly. Yeast becomes inactive below certain temperatures (this will vary slightly depending on the yeast in question), meaning it will stop turning sugar into alcohol. If you store these drinks in a space which is too warm, you risk further fermentation. There is of course a limit on how strong the drink will become, sugar must be present to create alcohol, and if there isn’t much sugar, this limits the room for further fermentation. The safest thing to do is to store these products cold, ideally in the fridge, but a cold cellar or garage should do the trick. If you are buying from a shop, purchase kombuchas etc that are in the fridge and avoid product that is being stored ambient on the shelf.
If you’re concerned about this, contact the brands directly and ask for their advice on storage temperature. They will likely be able to provide some reassurance and further detail specific to their drinks.
Storing alcohol-free beer
You’ll want to enjoy some beers at a slightly warmer temperature than others. Dark beers are usually best served around 12-15 degrees celcius. As a general rule, you want to store all beer chilled, a cellar or garage will do. For your dark pours, bring them out of storage a short while before drinking to allow them to warm a little, especially if you’ve been storing them in a fridge. You should also aim to store beers upright where possible so that they don’t froth when opened, and so that any sediment will settle at the bottom of the vessel.
We hope that’s given some clarify as to how to store your alcohol-free drinks. We recommend always checking each individual product label as producers will have their own recommendations on how to store their drinks, and how to enjoy them at their best once opened.