Originally Posted by Bob Hyneman
Well if you keep a tight lid on them, the ability of hard liquors to lose alcohol is limited to the amount of air in the bottle. Liqueurs, wines etc. (in this conversation we are using 20% alcohol as the tilting point, although I honestly do not know what it is) will spoil, will taste badly, and will give your customers the runs. If you are keeping them around for years and years I'd have to wonder why you bought them in the first place. If you bought a box of hamburger patties or french fries and still had it around years and years later would you consider that a wise investment?
I'd keep an unopened can of 5% beer around for a very long time, but I can guarantee you that once opened, over time, a bottle of 12% alcohol white wine will spoil, will taste like vinegar, and even if refrigerated, even if tightly capped, will give your customers the runs.
I'm sure Bob is pulling everybody's leg here or maybe he doesn't get it. Anyhow I'll bite on the hook some more.
First the OP was not talking about serving customers, he was referring to his own home bar.
Second, since water-ethanol vapour is roughly 1000 times more voluminous than the liquid form, the amount of ethanol removed by the water/ethanol vapour mixture in a sitting bottle at room temperature is negligible (if the bottle remains closed)
Third, beer and wine is far from being comparable to hamburger meat and potato french fries although if kept frozen the latter will last forever. The only bacteria or mold that will grow in beer and wine are aceto making microorganism (i.e. turns ethanol into vinegar) not pathogens. Although it may become unpalatable, beer or wine that turns will not make anybody sick other than the immune depressed (big maybe).
Originally Posted by ED BUCHANAN
Normally not since alcohol itself is a preservative.
Ed permit me to add some nuances here just in case Bob takes you at your word and twists your meaning. Alcohol will not stop aceto microbial growth below 20%.
Between 20% to roughly 70%, ethanol is bateriostatic, which means it will prevent the growth of microorganisms
at around 70%, ethanol is bacteriocide i.e. antiseptic, kills microorganisms (as in homocide means kills humans)
above 70%, ethanol is bacteriostatic again.
Since ancient times, distilled alcohol (often brandy) was used to preserve tissue specimens (for museums for example). It was custom to change the alcohol regularly to prevent the tissues from rotting only because the distilled alcohol was around 30 to 40% and when preserving animals the water pulled from the tissue would dilute the preserving liquid. After several <washes> of brandy, the specimen stabilizes and will last forever.