Does Sake Go Bad? Shelf Life, Storage, And Signs Of Spoilage

Does sake go bad? Yes, it does. You may wonder, isn’t it a traditionally-made wine? 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.

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.

This article provides necessary information on the shelf life, storage, and signs of spoilage.

What is sake?

Sake (nihonshu) is alcoholic Japanese rice wine. It is a noncarbonated beverage made from fermented polished rice.

The manufacturing process of this rice wine involves squeezing, filtering, burning, storing, and aging. Once all these steps are fulfilled, the wine is bottled and ready for sale.

This Japanese rice wine has a sweet flavor and 15-22% ABV (which varies with how diluted the wine is). If you’re familiar with Tokyo cuisine, you must have had a glass of this Japanese rice wine.

Furthermore, it is a regular beverage at ceremonies and special occasions. It also helps to tone down pungent ingredients and boost flavor in some recipes.

In addition, sake may be pasteurized or unpasteurized.

The pasteurized variety goes through a heating process that kills off bacteria that can cause the wine to age and spoil quickly. On the other hand, unpasteurized rice wine does 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, it will lose its flavor under improper storage conditions.

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

Does cooking sake go bad?

Cooking sake can keep for a very long time. 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 open and it becomes oxidized.

But if it remains unopened and kept in a cool, dry, and dark place like the pantry, it will 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 unpasteurized sake go bad?

Unlike pasteurized rice wine, the unpasteurized type 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.

Therefore, you should keep bottles of unpasteurized rice wine refrigerated. Consume opened bottles within two weeks of refrigeration. Unopened bottles of rice wine will last up to six months in the refrigerator.

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 without the seeds. 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.

Consume bottles of rice wine within one day or refrigerate them, if necessary. When rice wine comes in contact with air, it oxidizes and loses its flavor. In addition, always refrigerate unpasteurized rice wine.

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 store 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, consume it quickly unless you are storing it for cooking purposes. Otherwise, it may lose its flavor after two weeks.

Can you freeze sake?

It is not advisable to freeze rice wine to preserve it, but you can. 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 it taste 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. An unopened bottle of rice wine will last years with proper storage.

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

Can expired sake make you sick?

Drinking rice wine that has stayed too long will not have any harmful effects but you may experience slight inconveniences like stomach upset. But you may still add it to your meals.

How to tell if sake is bad

Observe the appearance

Examine the appearance of the wine. A yellow tint and particles floating on or sitting at the bottom of the drink are signs that you should discard it.

Smell it

When rice wine 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, discard the drink.

Have a taste

If you can’t find anything off after examining your bottle of rice wine and taking a whiff, have a taste. An unpleasant taste is a sign that you should discard it.

However, if it doesn’t taste bad but you don’t like the taste, cook with it instead.

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 expose rice wine to heat
  • Keep unpasteurized rice wine refrigerated
  • In addition, do not keep rice wine on the refrigerator door. The frequent opening and closing of the door will make the temperature fluctuate, and this is not good for the drink


Can you use old sake for cooking?

Yes, you can.

Old sake is best for cooking. It prevents waste and keeps you from drinking sake that has gone bad.

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

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

Can you reheat sake?

Yes, you can.

Reheat sake with low heat. You can do this by submerging the bottle of rice wine in a hot bath. You can also heat it over a slow cooker or microwave it for 30-60 seconds. Heat rice wine over high heat will make it 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. 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 you stored it. The production date of the rice wine, which is usually on the bottle, will also 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 Millenora.