You might be very busy and constantly on the go, but we can bet that these days you spend a lot more time at home – we all do!
If you are discovering your home anew, the chances are that you’ll find a few things you have forgotten about. If one of them is a bottle of sake with no best-by date on the label, there will be a few questions popping up. For example: How long does sake last?
If you do not know how long a bottle of sake was sitting in your liquor cabinet, the next logical question is: Does sake go bad?
You are probably not very familiar with sake unless you are Japanese or were living in Japan, so it is perhaps hard for you to come up with the answers to these questions. That is why we are here, as always. Stay with us, and all will be revealed!
What Is Sake?
Before we move on to answer the above- mentioned questions, let us get a bit more acquainted with the sake. Since you are here, you have probably already heard about it and know that it is a drink that originated in Japan.
Sake is widely served in sushi restaurants worldwide, so there is hardly a grown-up that has not at least heard about it. If you are a sushi adorant, chances are you have tried sake too and probably liked it as well. It was consumed for hundreds of years – some say even before the 8th century CE.
If you want to order this Japanese national drink, you have to learn to pronounce its name correctly. We’ll give you a hand – it is pronounced “sah-KAY.”
So, what is sake, and what’s it made of?
Sake is considered wine, even though it is not made of fruit such as grapes or berries. It is made by the same process of fermentation; the only difference is that you use rice instead. The aging process takes at least a year.
If you would like to try to brew sake by yourself, you would need:
- Highly polished sake mai rice
- Mold Aspergillus oryzae
Is it easy? Check out for yourself.
This moderately boozy drink can be served both hot and cold. Typically, the higher quality sake is served chilled, while cheaper sake is first warmed up. At cooler temperatures around 45 degrees, you can feel the full flavor profile of the sake you are drinking. A more affordable sake is often sweeter and more fruity, but when warm, you cannot taste that difference as much.
Most of the time, sake temperature will depend on the preference and personal taste of the person that drinks it. Just do not make it colder than 40 degrees or warmer than 105 degrees, and everything will be ok.
Sake is always brought to you in very little cups – maybe they want you to think that you are not drinking that much. In reality, sake can get you drunk pretty quickly since it has an alcohol by volume content of between 15 and 20%.
How many calories does sake have? Check out the following chart:
Types Of Sake
There are a plethora of different brands of sake on the market or in the restaurants. They are roughly divided into two categories, mostly depending on how much polishing the rice has gone through. Those are:
- The Ordinary Sake
- The Special Designation Sake
How To Store Sake
Sake, or the Japanese rice wine, should be stored in the same way you would store any other wine you own.
It means that it is best to keep it unopened until you decide to drink it. The bottle should sit in a cool and dark place far from any source of heat.
The best temperature to keep sake is a temperature that is slightly below average room temperature (around 20℃ / 68°F).
There is a special kind of sake, called unpasteurized sake, or namazake, that has to be refrigerated at all times. If your liquor store keeps a particular sake brand in the refrigerated section, you should best keep it in your fridge, too – just to be on the safe side!
If you open a bottle of sake and do not get to the bottom of it, you have to keep it well-sealed and refrigerated at all times, just like any other wine you buy.
How Long Does Sake Last
If you often drink sake, you have probably noticed a troublesome fact that most bottles do not have a best-by date on their label. Why is that?
The answer is as simple as it can be – it is not a requirement. So, how can you tell when it is time to give up on a bottle and discard it?
Luckily, you can often find the production date on the label. It represents a date your sake was bottled. The rule of the thumb is that you should consume it within a year or two from that date. It seems a bit short, doesn’t it?
If you compare it with regular wine that usually gets better as it ages, sake has a rather short shelf life. If it is any consolation, sake will remain safe to drink longer than that, but its quality will degrade considerably.
If you have a decade-old unopened bottle of sake lying around, it probably won’t kill you to drink it, but we doubt you will enjoy it much.
Bottom line – sake is not meant for aging, consume it while fresh! After all, it can be a good reason for a party!
What happens once you open the bottle of sake?
- Things change for the worse as far as shelf-life is concerned. If you want to enjoy the best possible quality, you ought to consume a whole bottle of sake in a single day! If you cannot do it alone, call a friend to help you out. Everything is easier when in good company.
- If that is not an option, and you still want to be able to use sake in the next few weeks, put it into the fridge ASAP. The longer you wait to finish it up, the softer it will taste.
How quickly will its taste change?
- Well, that depends on the quality of sake. Some high-quality beverages stay more than ok to drink for up to a month.
How long will it last?
|An unopened bottle of sake||Will last up to 2 years in a pantry/fridge|
|An opened bottle of sake||Up to 4 weeks in a fridge|
|An unopened bottle of unpasteurized sake||Up to 6 months in a fridge|
|An opened bottle of unpasteurized sake||Up to 2 weeks in a fridge|
Does Sake Go Bad?
An unopened glass of sake will hardly go bad. Even if you store it for decades, it should still be safe to drink once you open it. The quality will be far from what it was during the first year, but it will not poison you nor make you sick.
Even an opened bottle stored in the fridge will not go bad easily. It will not taste the same if you drink it after a month or so, but it will not cause you any harm either. You’ll probably not enjoy it and will throw it away anyhow.
So, does sake go bad at all?
Yes, it does and here are the signs that it is spoiled and you should discard it:
- It turns yellow: Sake is usually clear, so if it becomes yellowish, it is a sure sign that the alcohol oxidized.
- It smells off: If your sake smells of rotten eggs or simply bad, throw it away.
- There are floating particles in it: Any particles in your sake are a reason for concern – no matter whether they float or have fallen to the bottom of the bottle. Their presence indicates that the nihonshu has started to fall apart, and it is time to discard the sake.
- The taste is off: If sake passes all the previous tests, feel free to take a small sip and check how it tastes. If something feels off, do not drink it. If you are drinking a particular brand of sake for the first time, the chances are that you simply do not like its flavor or aroma. Still, it doesn’t really matter if sake is spoiled or you do not enjoy it – you should not drink it in either of these two cases!
You are now ready to enjoy sake worry free! Cheers!