Does Sake Go Bad? Shelf Life, Storage, and Signs of Spoilage

Does sake go bad? Yes, it does. You may wonder “there is no best-by date on the label, shouldn’t it last indefinitely?” Well, that is not always the case with many alcoholic beverages. The Food Labeling Law does not permit manufacturers to put an expiration date on some alcoholic beverages.

Therefore, you need to gather necessary information about the shelf life, storage, and signs of spoilage of your favorites. So, whether you’re holding an old bottle of sake or you’re about to purchase many bottles from the sale at the store, you need to get the lowdown on how long rice wine can last.

What Is Sake?

Sake (nihonshu) is alcoholic Japanese rice wine. It is a noncarbonated beverage made from fermented polished rice. This Japanese rice wine has a sweet flavor and 15-22% ABV (which varies with how diluted the wine is).

The manufacturing process of this rice is wine involves squeezing, filtering, burning, storing, and aging. Once all these steps are fulfilled, the wine is bottled and ready for sale. If you’re familiar with Tokyo cuisines, you must have had a glass of this Japanese rice wine.

Furthermore, it is a regular beverage at ceremonies and special occasions. Sake also serves as a cooking ingredient in many recipes. It helps to tone down pungent ingredients and boost flavor.

In addition, sake may be pasteurized or unpasteurized. Pasteurized sake is a rice wine that has gone through a heating process during brewing to kill off bacteria that can cause the wine to age and spoil quickly. The unpasteurized rice wine, on the other hand, did not go through this process.

Does Sake Go Bad?

Yes, sake can go bad. Most people think it is not likely to go bad because it is a fermented drink. On the contrary, it will eventually go bad after a while. Also, under improper storage conditions, it will lose its flavor.

Moreover, it is advised that you consume this Japanese rice wine as soon as possible. While it is still fresh, the rice wine still has all its good stuff in it. In addition, the rice wine oxidizes upon contact with air and this impacts the taste.

Does Cooking Sake Go Bad?

Cooking sake can keep for a very long time. If you buy rice wine for cooking purposes, with proper storage, you are in for a long-term supply of rice wine. Additionally, no matter how old a bottle of this rice wine is, even though it may have lost its flavor and sweet taste, it is still good for cooking.

Does Pasteurized Sake Go Bad?

Pasteurized sake will only go bad if you leave it opened and it becomes oxidized. But if it remains unopened and kept in a cool, dry, and dark place like the pantry, the bottle of rice wine can keep for up to a decade.

Pasteurized rice wine can last this long because, during brewing, it passed through a boiling process that killed the bacteria that can make the wine age fast.

Does Unpasteurised Sake Go Bad?

Unlike pasteurized rice wine, unpasteurized rice wine is more prone to spoilage. This is because it is not purified of bacteria. Usually, unpasteurized sake is sold refrigerated and should be kept that way, whether you have opened it or not.

In addition, after opening a bottle of unpasteurized rice wine, keep it in the refrigerator and consume it within two weeks. If you have not opened the bottle yet, you should still keep it refrigerated. A refrigerated unopened bottle of rice wine can last up to six months.

SEE: Does Orange Juice Go Bad or Does It Just Taste Funny?

Does Unfiltered Sake Go Bad?

Unfiltered rice wine is often referred to as nigori sake. This rice wine still has unfermented rice solids that settle at the bottom of the drink. It is also cloudy and sweeter than the clear, filtered rice wine. Filtered or unfiltered, it is Japanese rice wine and will go bad if left open and unrefrigerated.

Does Flavored Sake Go Bad?

Yes, flavored or fruit-infused rice wine can go bad. The best way to enjoy fruit-infused rice wine is to consume it fresh with the seeds removed. Fruit seeds in the wine can make sake go bad quickly.

Does Sake Go Bad After Opening?

An opened bottle of sake will go bad if you do not refrigerate it. You should finish up a bottle of the rice wine within one day or refrigerate it, if necessary. When rice wine comes in contact with air, it oxidizes and loses flavor.

Moreover, if it’s an unpasteurized rice wine, refrigerate it after opening.

Does Sake Go Bad If Unopened?

An unopened bottle of sake will last years and maybe a decade if you keep it in a cool, dry place. However, rice wine is not made for aging, unlike the ‘real’ wines. Therefore, you shouldn’t be storing it for too long, even if it is unopened.

Does Sake Go Bad in the Fridge?

Sake is not likely to go bad in the refrigerator if you leave it tightly sealed. Also, you should consume it quickly unless you are storing it for cooking purposes. Otherwise, the rice wine may lose its flavor after two weeks.

SEE: Does Lemon Juice Go Bad?

Can You Freeze Sake?

Although it is not advisable to freeze rice wine to preserve it, you can freeze it. Rice wine is a fermented drink, and you don’t need to freeze it to preserve it.

The harsh temperature in the freezer can affect the aroma and flavor of your rice wine. Also, thawing frozen sake can make you lose the delicate flavor and aroma that makes the wine good.

What Is the Shelf Life of Sake?

Sake is a fermented drink with a long shelf life. However, this rice wine is best enjoyed fresh within one day of opening the bottle. If the bottle of rice wine is unopened, it can last years under proper storage conditions.

In addition, you should keep in mind that the longer rice wine stays, the lesser its quality. For this reason, you should consume it within two years of purchase.

SEE: How to Store Your Wine And Beverages At Home

Can Expired Sake Make You Sick?

Drinking rice wine that has stayed for too long will not cause your body any harmful effects but you may experience slight inconveniences like stomach upset. But you may still use the rice wine to cook your meals.

How to Tell if Sake Is Bad

Observe the appearance

When a bottle of rice wine has gone bad, it has been oxidized. Examine the appearance of the wine. A yellow tint and particles floating on or sitting at the bottom of the drink are signs that your drink is no longer fit for drinking. You should throw it away instead.

Smell the rice wine

When sake goes bad, it smells nothing like sweet-flavored rice wine. Instead, it smells rotten, burnt, and like yogurt. If you notice any of these signs, throw the drink away.

Have a taste

If after a long look at your bottle of rice wine and taking a whiff, you don’t find anything off, have a taste. If it doesn’t taste pleasant, throw it out. However, if it doesn’t taste bad but you just don’t like the taste, you can use it for cooking only.

SEE: Get Free Drinks From Sonic

How to Preserve Sake

  • Keep open bottles of rice wine in the fridge
  • Make sure you seal the bottles tightly
  • If you have a bottle of small leftover rice wine, pour it into a small bottle to avoid too many chances of exposure to air
  • Store unopened bottles in the pantry, away from sunlight and air
  • Also, do not keep bottles of sake close to heat
  • Keep unpasteurized rice wine refrigerated
  • In addition, do not keep rice wine in the refrigerator door. The frequent opening and closing of the door will make the temperature fluctuate and this is not good for the beverage


Can you use old sake for cooking?

Yes, you can. If you’re sure the bottle has been sealed, you can still use the old sake to add flavor to your meals. This is the best way to prevent rice wine from wasting.

How long can you keep a bottle of cooking sake open?

Cooking sake lasts longer than drinking sake. You can keep an open bottle of rice wine for cooking for up to six months if you keep it in a cool, dark place.

Can you rewarm sake?

If you want to reheat sake to serve it warm or hot, do so with low heat. One of the ways you can reheat the wine is to submerge it in a hot bath. You can also heat it over a slow cooker or microwave it for 30-60 seconds. If you heat rice wine over high heat, it will lose its flavor.


Just like other alcoholic beverages, an unopened bottle of sake can last indefinitely. However, once opened, it doesn’t keep for so long. You should consume it within one day or refrigerate it to keep it for a few more days.

Know the type of sake you have, how long it’s been in the store or your pantry and how it has been stored. The production date of the rice wine, which is usually on the body of the bottle, will give you information about the drinking window.

Most importantly, when you open a bottle of sake, examine it for signs of spoilage.

Thanks for reading.

Read more articles on the shelf life and preservation methods of drinks and beverages on Cheffist.