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Does Sake Go bad? What’s Sake’s Shelf Life?

Last Updated on October 11, 2023

Doe sake go bad? Have you ever wonder what happens to your leftover Japanese rice wine? Whether sake goes bad and whether you can still use it?

In this blog post, we will explore all the information you need to know about storing and if it’s safe to drink before the best-by date.

cold sake

Everyone knows that food should be consumed before it hits the expiration date. But what about alcohol? For many people, the issue of when to toss out remains a mystery.

You may think it’s okay to drink even after it has been opened for an extended period of time, but there are actually a few risks associated with this practice.

Just like other alcoholic drinks, sake can go bad over time. To ensure good quality and the best taste, knowing how long it lasts and how to store it properly is important.

Whether you’re a novice or experienced in the world of sake drinking, knowing how long your favorite beverages can safely last and what options you have if they expire. 

In this article, we will provide some insight into why consuming expired beverages could potentially be dangerous, as well as simple tips for maintaining safe levels of your alcoholic refreshment so that you can enjoy every sip worry-free! 

Sake (Japanese Alcohol)

Sake, also known as nihonshuis a rice-based alcoholic beverage that is popular in Japan and made from fermented rice.

It is clear and yellowish in color, often used for cooking and drinking alcohol, and regarded as one of Japan’s national drinks in every Japanese pantry. 

Japanese sake

Sake tastes light, and sweet with low acidity with a smooth, subtle flavor. However, the question of whether sake goes bad or not is an important one to consider when deciding how to store your sake properly.

Unlike wine, this Japanese rice wine is brewed in a very similar process to beer and has an alcohol content range of 15-20%, making it a strong beverage.

Generally, high-quality sake is prepared with soft water and polished rice that has been milled to remove the outer layers. This eliminates impurities that can adversely impact the flavor or quality of the finished product.

Although sake degrades with time, but some can have a shelf life of more than 5 years. It’s best to drink it within 1 year from when it was brewed

Good-quality sakes typically should not give off any strange odors when opened and should be consumed fairly soon after opening for optimal taste.

To ensure maximum freshness for your enjoyment, we suggest only purchasing it in sealed bottles with expiration dates printed on them before opening so you can enjoy the fullest flavor within its ideal timeline!

Unpasteurized Sake 

Namazake (unpasteurized Sake), is pasteurized only once or even none, and is normally brighter, fruitier, and fresher in taste, though unpasteurized Sake should be kept in the fridge since without pasteurization can easily change its flavor and aroma if kept a room temperature.

best sake to drink

Unpasteurized sake is unlike most sakes, which are pasteurized to increase shelf life and reduce the risk of spoilage. Because it is not heated and retains its complex flavors and aromas. 

This type of wine usually has higher alcohol content than other types, ranging from 14-16% ABV. Unpasteurized sake also contains beneficial bacteria called lactic acid bacteria, which help the fermentation process and give it a unique flavor profile.

It is generally consumed fresh as it does not keep for long periods of time and should be stored in tightly sealed containers in the fridge for maximum quality.

Drinking unpasteurized sake can be an acquired taste since it has bold flavors that may be unfamiliar to some people.

Old Sake

Among sake lovers, “old sake” is popular because of its depth and mellowness, but it is different from deteriorated sake.

By properly managing and storing old sake, breweries, and liquor stores can make delicious sake.

drink sake

How Long Does Sake Last?

The shelf-life of unopened sake depends on how it was packaged and stored by the manufacturer, but generally sake labels state they will last between 1 to 2 years from the production date.

Unopened sake can be stored in a cool and dark place kept away from direct sunlight or stored in the pantry without refrigeration. 

Once opened, you should consume sake within a few weeks at most as its flavor will deteriorate fairly quickly due to the natural oxidation process. 

Re-corking or using another airtight seal stored in the fridge immediately can help slow down this process and extend the shelf life. So proper storage is key for getting the most out of your sake.

For those who are looking for maximum freshness, you may want to buy smaller bottles or splits (200 ml) that can be consumed more quickly since they won’t take up as much space in your fridge either!

As with any other food item, it’s important to experiment with different brands and varieties to find a type of sake that you enjoy as taste preferences vary greatly among consumers.

How To Tell If Sake Gone Bad

When it comes to determining whether or not sake has gone bad, there are some telltale signs that one can look out for.

Just as with other food items and drinks, exposure to air, light, moisture, and extreme temperatures can cause sake to spoil. Here are some signs that indicate spoiled Sake:

best sake for cooking
  • An off smell or a vinegar-like odor.
  • cloudy appearance or an oily texture.
  • The flavor is bitter or sour, rather than smooth and sweet.

It is also important to pay attention to the expiration date on your bottle – if it is past the expiry date then it should be disposed of.

Factors that Affect Sake Shelf Life 

Sake generally has a low acidity and a low level of dissolved solids, so it is extremely susceptible to oxidation and microbial activity.

It is important to note that sake runs the risk of deteriorating in quality due to factors like storage temperature, light exposure, and air contact.

does sake taste good

It is recommended that sake be stored away from sunlight and oxygen exposure in a dark, cool place – 40°F or lower.

Keeping the bottle closed will help slow down oxidation, but unlike wine or beer, sake deteriorates more quickly once opened due to its relatively high amount of ethanol content.

Furthermore, sulfur dioxide (SO2) can have an effect on shelf-life as well. Some sake contains no SO2 at all and should not last longer than a few weeks when stored in optimal conditions even when the bottle is still sealed.

On the other hand, various levels of SO2 are added by manufacturers as a preservative for sakes that do not contain any organic acids. Sakes containing these preservatives have a much longer shelf-life; however, they should still be consumed within several months after opening as well as periodically checked for spoilage signs such as off-flavors or smells.

How to Store

In order to maximize its shelf life, sake should be stored in a cool, dry place. Light and heat can cause sake to go bad quickly and will degrade the flavor over time.

Storing your sake away from sunlight is particularly important if you keep it in a clear bottle or carafe; dark bottles are better at blocking out light.

how long is sake good for

When storing opened bottles of sake, make sure the cap is securely fastened and that there is minimal airspace inside the bottle.

If possible, store them in an upright position rather than laying them down as this will help slow oxidation and preserve the flavor of the sake for longer.

Keeping air out of opened bottles also helps avoid contamination from airborne bacteria or other contaminants.

Make sure you finish a bottle within 1-2 weeks of opening – even though some varieties can last longer, this timeframe should still be observed for optimal flavor and quality.

Sake does not need to be refrigerated unless it’s a ready-to-drink (RTD) type like nigorizake or bottled cocktails containing sake.

Such beverages may not stay fresh if left unrefrigerated, since they are brewed with preservatives that are activated when chilled properly.

What to Do with Sake Passed Expiration Date?

Although sake can last up to two years when opened, it is important to take into consideration the environment in which you store it.

In the case of spoiled Japanese rice wine, it is important not to drink it as this could make you ill. Instead, here are some other options:

Yaki-Udon-Stir-Fried-Udon-Noodles on a plate
Yaki Udon Stir-Fried Udon Noodles With Vegetables
  • Cook with It: Sake can be used as a cooking ingredient for dishes like stir-fries or stews. The alcohol will evaporate during the cooking process leaving behind sweet notes with a hint of saltiness.
  • Make Vinegar: Many people choose to make their own sake vinegar by adding air starter cultures such as ‘Mother’ or SCOBYs (Symbiotic Colonies Of Bacteria And Yeast) into pureed cooked rice and leaving it sit out at room temperature for several days until it creates its own acidic environment. Alternatively, you can mix the spoilt sake with other vinegars such as apple cider vinegar which acts as an inoculant ready for fermentation. This makes for a great-tasting addition to dressings and marinades!
  • Fertilize Your Garden: Sake can be used as a natural fertilizer because its high alcohol content breaks down quickly in soil making its nutrients available quickly for plants. Some gardeners even recommend diluting spent sake with water before pouring it onto soil—but do not use any more than necessary!

In a nutshell

After considering all the factors that affect the shelf life of sake, it is important to note that there is no definitive answer as to whether or not sake goes bad.

The quality of sake can vary drastically depending on how it was stored and brewed, so each batch must be assessed individually.

In general, however, it can last for up to a year if stored properly in a cool, dark place.

It’s important to note that even with proper storage, the taste and aroma may begin to change over time. Therefore, it’s best to consume any sake within two months of purchase in order to ensure maximum freshness and quality.

Overall, the degradation process can vary significantly depending on several factors such as:

  • Storage temperature
  • Exposure to light and air
  • Freshness at the purchase date
  • Brewing methods used

Therefore, while there is no definite answer as to whether or not sake goes bad, with proper storage and mindful consumption one can extend its shelf life significantly.

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