How Long Does Sake Last After Opening And Go Bad

Sake, a traditional Japanese beverage has gained popularity around the world for its unique flavors and versatile pairing options. Here’s the scoop on how long does sake last after opening!

white wine bottle

The alcoholic beverage is a Japanese rice wine made from fermented rice that goes through a unique fermentation process.

High-quality sake at any restaurant is the perfect delicious beverage for special occasions. Or if you want to try a unique flavor blend of Japanese wine. 

However, once a bottle of sake is opened, many people wonder how long it will last before the taste is affected. 

Effects of Oxidation

wine bottle with glass

Long periods of air exposure in unopened bottles of sake or even leftover sake placed in the fridge will lose its original taste and original flavor if it goes past the manufacturing date of its long shelf life. 

This alcoholic drink is a fermented product, meaning if Japanese sake sits out for a longer time, the quality of the sake goes downhill, leading to unpleasant flavors. 

Knowing the shelf life and the expiration date of opened sake and the proper storage methods can ensure that you enjoy this delightful drink at its optimal quality and make your sake last. 

The shelf life of opened sake varies depending on factors such as pasteurization and storage conditions. 

For example, the whole bottle should be stored in a cool place as a general rule. But there are different types of sake, some with possibly higher alcohol content. 

Variations of regular sake include Nigori sake and Ginjo types of sake. 

These all have a different brewing process from each other, with a different final product by the time it hits the liquor stores. 

Generally, pasteurized sake can last for a long time, up to a few weeks to a month after opening. 

On the other hand, unpasteurized sake, also known as namazake, should be consumed within one to two weeks. 

Be sure to avoid old sake that is well past the date of manufacture or has been sitting in high temperatures. 

To maintain the freshness and aroma of your sake, it’s crucial to store it in a dark, dry place without sources of heat, preferably in the refrigerator.

To know how long sake lasts and what makes sake go bad, the best way is to keep the best-by date in mind while also keeping the oxidation process in mind. 

The Impact of Opening Sake

wine bottle with glasses and corks


When you open a previously unopened bottle of sake, it becomes exposed to air, which causes oxidation. 

Oxidation can change the taste and aroma of your sake over time. Even to the premium sake in your liquor cabinet. 

Although some sakes might actually become smoother after being opened for a couple of days, it’s generally best to consume opened sake within a week to ensure optimal freshness and quality.

Flavor and Aroma Changes

Once a bottle of sake is opened, its flavor and aroma may degrade if not consumed within a certain time frame. 

Pasteurized sake tends to have a longer shelf life than unpasteurized, or unfiltered, sake. 

An opened pasteurized sake bottle can last one to two years if sealed tightly. While an unpasteurized sake lasts 2-4 weeks after opening. 

To get the best quality taste and optimal flavor, it is recommended to consume sake within three days of opening.

To slow down these changes, it’s a good idea to store opened sake in the refrigerator. 

Refrigerating sake helps maintain its flavor and aroma, and an opened bottle of sake can last about 1 to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Types of Sake and Their Shelf Life

Different types of sake have varying shelf lives once opened:

  • Ginjo and Junmai type: These sakes have a shorter shelf life, typically around 8-10 months when unopened. After opening, some experts suggest consuming these sakes within a few weeks. While others argue they can last a few months.
  • Honjozo type: This type of sake has a longer shelf life of about 12 months when unopened. Similar to other types, the shelf life after opening can be a matter of debate among experts.

Remember that the taste, flavor, and aroma of sake can change once it’s opened. So it’s important to consume it within a reasonable time frame and store it properly to enjoy its optimal flavor.

The good news is that sake lasts a long time, no matter what kind it is. 

Shelf Life of Sake

wine bottles laying down

Unopened Bottles

When it comes to the shelf life of unopened sake, pasteurized and unpasteurized varieties differ in their longevity. 

Pasteurized sake often has a longer shelf life, with some varieties lasting anywhere from 8 to 12 months, depending on the type of sake (Ginjo Type, Junmai Type, or Honjozo Type).

Unpasteurized sake, also known as namazake, has a shorter shelf life. Typically lasting around 6 months before it begins to lose its optimal quality. 

It’s important to note that the bottling date, production date, and expiry date that all fall under food labeling law can help determine how long the sake will remain drinkable. 

However, if these dates are not available, it’s generally best to consume the sake within the aforementioned time frames.

Opened Bottles

Once a bottle of sake has been opened, it’s crucial to consume it within an appropriate time frame to ensure the best flavor and quality. 

Opened pasteurized sake can last one to two years if tightly sealed, but for optimal flavor, it’s better to consume it within the first three days of opening.

Unpasteurized sake, on the other hand, should be consumed within a shorter time frame. 

Expect opened bottles of namazake to last approximately 1 to 2 weeks before the quality begins to degrade. 

It’s important to store opened sake in the refrigerator to maintain its freshness.

Different types of sake, such as Koshu, may have unique aging properties that make them more enjoyable after a longer period of time. 

However, most kinds of sake are not intended for aging, and their flavor profiles will change if they’re not consumed within the recommended time frame.

The shelf life of sake can vary greatly depending on factors such as whether it’s pasteurized or unpasteurized, the type of sake, and whether it has been opened or remains unopened. 

It’s vital to adhere to these general guidelines to fully appreciate the flavor and quality of sake.

Storage Conditions for Sake

wine glasses filled with wine


The ideal storage temperature for sake is between 5°C and 15°C (41°F to 59°F). 

Storing sake at higher temperatures can lead to spoilage or losing its flavor. While colder temperatures can cause the sake to become too thick. 

A cool, dark place like a cabinet or cellar is recommended for unopened sake bottles. 

Opened sake should be refrigerated and can last around 1 to 2 weeks.

Light Exposure

Sake should be stored away from direct sunlight and strong artificial light and different temperatures under that light . 

Excessive light exposure can alter the flavor and aroma of the sake. 

Make sure to keep your sake in a shaded, dark environment to maintain its quality.

How to Store Opened and Unopened Sake

Unopened Sake

Unopened pasteurized sake typically has a shelf life of 8-12 months, depending on the type.

Unpasteurized sake (namazake) has a shorter shelf life, usually around 6 months.

Store unopened sake bottles in a cool, dark place, away from direct light sources and maintain a steady temperature.

Opened Sake

Once opened, sake should be stored in the refrigerator and consumed within a week for the best taste.

It can last up to two months, but the flavor may decline over time. Ensure the bottle is tightly sealed before placing it back in the fridge.

For unpasteurized sake, consume it within 1-2 weeks to retain optimal taste and quality.

A properly stored sake will help maintain its flavor and freshness, allowing you to enjoy this Japanese beverage at its finest. 

Be mindful of the temperature, light exposure, and how to store both opened and unopened bottles to make the most of your sake experience.

Also, check the sake label to make sure the sake is within its limits. 

Determining Bad Sake

glass of white being held in front of vineyard

To determine if your sake has gone bad, there are a few sensory factors you should consider: smell, appearance, and taste.


The aroma of sake plays a vital role in determining its quality. 

When sake goes bad, it may emit a pungent smell that is distinctly different from its original fresh, fruity, or floral scent. 

If you notice an off, moldy, or unpleasant odor, it’s a sign that the sake has spoiled and should not be consumed.


Another indication of bad sake is its appearance. Fresh sake typically has a clear or slightly milky look, depending on the type. 

However, if the sake starts to develop a yellow tin12qt or yellowish hue, it indicates that oxidation has occurred and the quality has diminished.

Along with discoloration, you should also check for any visible signs of mold floating on the surface or sticking to the glass. 

Mold growth in your sake is a sure sign of spoilage and potential health risks, so it should be discarded immediately.


Finally, if the smell and appearance seem normal, you can cautiously taste the sake to determine its quality. 

A normal, unspoiled sake should have a balanced flavor profile with notes of sweetness, umami, and acidity. 

If the sake tastes off, sour, or has a sharp vinegar-like taste, it’s time to get rid of it.

Keep in mind that sake doesn’t last long once opened, so to enjoy its optimal flavor and aroma, it’s best to consume it within a few days of opening. 

Storing it in a cool, dark place can help prolong its shelf life, but it’s always better to trust your senses and avoid consuming bad sake.

Factors Affecting Sake’s Longevity

pouring wine into wine glass

Here’s the scoop on the factors that affect the shelf life of sake after opening, focusing on pasteurization, the aging process, and the types of sake.


Sake can be either pasteurized or unpasteurized. 

Pasteurization is the process of heating sake to kill bacteria and deactivate enzymes, which can extend its shelf life.

  • Pasteurized sake: An opened pasteurized bottle of sake can be stored for one to two years if tightly sealed. However, its taste may change after a few weeks to a month.
  • Unpasteurized sake: Also known as “nama” sake, it has a shorter shelf life compared to pasteurized sake. Unpasteurized sake will generally last about 2-4 weeks after opening.

Aging Process

The aging process of sake affects its longevity. 

While most kinds of sake aren’t meant for aging, some types can be aged for a longer period, which can change their flavor and aroma.

  • Aged sake: Some premium sakes, like koshu (aged sake), can be aged for years, resulting in a rich and complex flavor. However, this is not common for most types of sake.
  • Non-aged sake: Most sake is meant to be consumed within a year of production. Storing it for several years might not have harmful effects on health, but the quality may be poor.

Sake Types

There are several types of sake that may have different shelf lives after opening. The main types include junmai, ginjo, junmai daiginjo, daiginjo, and honjozo.

Sake TypeCharacteristicsShelf Life After Opening
JunmaiMade from rice, water, and koji; no added alcoholTypically 1-2 weeks
GinjoContains highly polished rice; fruity and floralTypically 1-2 weeks
Junmai DaiginjoHighest-quality sake; derived from junmaiTypically 1-2 weeks
DaiginjoProduced with even higher quality polished riceTypically 1-2 weeks
HonjozoHas a small amount of distilled alcohol addedTypically 1-2 weeks

Keep in mind that the shelf life of opened sake also depends on proper storage conditions. 

To maximize its freshness, always store sake below 60 degrees and refrigerate it after opening.

Serving and Enjoying Sake

two glasses of wine with grapes

Serving Temperature

Sake can be enjoyed at various temperatures, depending on the type and personal preference. 

Namazake, a type of unpasteurized sake, is best enjoyed chilled to preserve its delicate flavors. 

On the other hand, some types of sake, especially when they are not as fresh, can be heated to enhance their flavors. 

In general, sake can be enjoyed at the following temperatures:

  • Chilled (5-10°C): Ideal for delicate and fruity sake varieties
  • Room temperature (15-20°C): Suitable for most types of sake
  • Warm (30-40°C): Enhances the flavors of less fresh or full-bodied sake
  • Hot (45-55°C): Great for rich or aged sake varieties

Pairing with Food

Sake can be paired with various types of food, from traditional Japanese cuisine to more unconventional dishes. 

To make the most of your sake experience, consider the following pairings:

  • Nigori (cloudy sake): Pairs well with rich and creamy dishes or spicy foods
  • Sweet sake: Complements desserts or dishes with naturally sweet flavors
  • Dry sake: Goes well with savory or salty dishes, like grilled fish or vegetables
  • Full-bodied sake: Stands up to stronger flavors, such as red meat or bold sauces

In restaurants, it’s common to see sake served alongside beer or other traditional drinks, like shōchū.

Traditional Drink

Sake is a traditional Japanese drink with a long history of production and consumption. 

It is made from fermented rice and has a wide range of flavors, from sweet and fruity to dry and robust. 

When enjoying sake in a traditional setting, you may encounter specific customs and practices, such as serving others and using specific small cups called a sake cup.

  • When drinking sake with friends or family, it’s customary to pour sake for others and wait for someone else to pour yours.
  • Ochoko, a small ceramic cup, is the traditional vessel for consuming sake. However, you may also encounter glass or wooden cups called masu.

To ensure you’re enjoying sake at its peak freshness, refrigerate the bottle after opening and consume it within a week or two, depending on the type of sake.

Safety Concerns

clinging glasses of wine together

When considering the safety of sake after opening, various factors play a role: harmful bacteria, fermentation, mold, keeping the optimal flavor, managing acidity, and storage information. 

Understanding these factors will help you ensure that your opened sake remains safe to consume.

Harmful bacteria are generally not an issue in sake, as it goes through a pasteurization process that helps eliminate unwanted microorganisms. 

The alcohol content (around 15-20%) also acts as a preservative, discouraging the growth of harmful bacteria. 

However, be mindful of cross-contamination from other sources (such as dirty utensils) when handling your opened sake.


glass of wine and bottle on yellow background

Fermentation is a natural process in making sake, but it is typically halted before bottling to maintain the desired balance of flavors. 

Nevertheless, an opened bottle of sake can still experience changes in taste due to oxidation and minor ongoing fermentation. 

To maintain optimal flavor, try to consume the opened sake within a week.

Mold growth on opened sake is rare due to the alcohol content and the pasteurization process. 

However, mold spores can be introduced when transferring sake to other containers or when it comes in contact with contaminated surfaces. 

Keep the sake container clean and sealed tightly to minimize the risk of mold growth.

When it comes to acidity levels, sake tends to be on the lower side (compared to wine). 

Low acidity helps with the longevity of your opened sake, but it might still alter the taste over time. 

The effect of acidity can be reduced by storing the sake properly.

Storage information plays a crucial part in preserving the safety and quality of sake. 

Opened bottles should be refrigerated and consumed within a week, but they can still be safe to drink even after a few weeks. 

Keep the sake bottle tightly sealed and away from direct sunlight or heat sources, as they can negatively affect the sake’s quality.

By following these safety tips and being aware of the potential concerns, you can enjoy your opened sake without worrying about its safety. 

Store your sake properly and monitor its flavor and appearance to ensure you have the best experience possible.

Final Thoughts

Sake can last up to 6 months when stored properly in the refrigerator.

It is important to note that sake contains amino acids which break down over time, so it’s best not to keep open bottles for too long.

Rice grains also play an important role in determining how long sake will remain drinkable after opening.

If you find your bottle of sake going off quickly then try buying a different brand with larger rice grains as this could help extend shelf-life.

When in doubt, consult a sake expert who will be able to advise on what type of product and storage methods are best suited for achieving optimum flavor and freshness.

With these tips in mind, you’ll have no problem enjoying your favorite drinks well past their expiration date!

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