Can you drink out of date Brut?

Brut, also known as Brut Champagne, is a very dry sparkling wine that originated in France. It is made from grapes grown in the Champagne region using the traditional Champagne method. Brut gets its name from the French word “brut” meaning raw or unrefined, referring to its bone-dry taste. Like most wines and sparkling wines, Brut does have an expiration or “best by” date printed on the bottle. But what happens if you find a bottle in the back of your wine cabinet that is past this date? Can you still drink it or will it make you sick? Let’s take a closer look at what that expiration date really means and whether or not drinking out of date Brut is dangerous.

What Does the Expiration Date on Brut Mean?

The expiration date printed on bottles of Brut is actually more of a “best by” date rather than a hard cutoff. Brut producers determine this date through testing to estimate the period that the wine will remain at peak quality when stored properly. However, Brut does not necessarily instantly go bad or become undrinkable after this date. Provided it has been stored correctly, Brut can often remain safe to consume for a period after its expiration date.

Peak Quality vs. Safety

First, it’s important to understand the difference between peak quality and safety when it comes to food and beverage expiration dates. The expiration date is about optimal flavor and texture. However, it does not necessarily mean that the product is unsafe to consume after that date. There are many shelf-stable foods that are safe long after their “best by” date. With proper storage, the same goes for wine and other alcoholic beverages.

Storage Conditions

Whether Brut remains drinkable after its expiration date largely depends on how it was stored. Brut should be stored in a cool, dark place between 40-50°F. If stored at higher temperatures or exposed to more light, the wine will begin to deteriorate faster. Storing Brut correctly helps slow down chemical reactions that can affect the wine’s flavor, aromas, and color. If your bottle of Brut has been stored in less than ideal conditions, it may go bad sooner than the expiration date.

Signs Brut Has Gone Bad

Because the expiration date is not definitive, you need to assess the condition of out of date Brut before drinking it. Here are some signs that Brut has spoiled and is no longer safe to drink:


– Significant sediment – Well-aged Brut can develop some sediment, but excessive cloudiness or large particles may indicate spoilage.

– Brown or yellow color – Brut should be pale gold. Brownish or yellowish colors may be a bad sign.


– Vinegar-like smell – This indicates acidic spoilage of the wine.

– Oxidized aromas – Stale, nutty, or sherry-like aromas mean the wine has been exposed to too much oxygen.

– Moldy or musty smell – This is a clear sign of microbial contamination.


– Bitterness or vinegary taste – The wine has become too acidic.

– Lack of bubbles – Brut should still have some carbonation when opened. A flat Brut is past its prime.

– Off tastes – Any strange flavors like mold, dirt, or rotten fruit mean you shouldn’t drink it.

Bottle Condition

– Signs of seepage – Leaking cork or wine dripping down the bottle.

– Mold growth – Fuzzy or white mold patches on the cork or bottom of the bottle.

– Broken cork – Crumbly cork pieces in the wine or cork pushed up into the neck.

What Happens if You Drink Bad Brut?

Consuming spoiled wines like bad Brut generally does not cause severe illness in healthy adults. However, it can lead to some unpleasant digestive upset:

Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea

While drinking wine that has gone bad does not generally lead to serious illness in most people, ingesting spoiled alcohol can definitely make you feel sick. The most common side effects are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain that set in 30 minutes to several hours after drinking bad Brut.


Bad Brut may also provoke headaches in sensitive individuals. This can be caused by compounds like histamines and sulfites that form as wine deteriorates.

Allergic reactions

In rare cases, people may experience flushed skin, hives, swelling, and wheezing after drinking spoiled wine. This indicates an allergic reaction, likely to biogenic amines that build up as wines degrade.

Amount of Bad Brut Symptoms
Small amount (1 glass) Mild nausea, stomach cramps
Moderate amount (2-3 glasses) Vomiting, diarrhea, headache
Large amount (full bottle) Severe vomiting/diarrhea, fast heart rate, fainting

As shown in the table, the amount of bad Brut consumed plays a role in symptom severity. Drinking an entire bottle is more hazardous than a single glass.


Even if bad Brut doesn’t make you acutely ill, it can still cause an awful hangover. Symptoms like headache, fatigue, body aches, nausea, dehydration, and dizziness that persist the next day are quite common after drinking expired Brut.

How Long Does Brut Last After Expiration?

So how long past its expiration date can you still drink Brut before it goes bad? An unopened bottle stored properly may remain drinkable 1-2 years after the “best by” date. However, Brut that has been opened will go bad much quicker – within 3-5 days.

Here are some general guidelines for maximum shelf life of Brut:

Unopened Brut

– Stored perfectly at 40°F: 2 years past expiration date

– Stored at room temperature: 6 months past expiration date

– Improperly stored with temperature fluctuations: 1 month past expiration date

Opened Brut

– Refrigerated: 3-5 days after opening

– At room temperature: 1-2 days after opening

The higher the temperature and the longer Brut is exposed to oxygen, the quicker it degrades. Leftover opened Brut should not be saved more than a few days before disposal, even if refrigerated.

How to Store Brut Properly

To get the most shelf life out of your bottles of Brut, proper storage is key. Here are some tips for storing Brut:

– Keep bottles cool at 40-50°F – A wine cellar or refrigerator is ideal. Fluctuating temperatures speed up spoilage.

– Store bottles on their sides – This keeps the corks moist and airtight.

– Use a wine preservation system – Vacuum sealing or inert gas systems remove oxygen from opened bottles to gain a few extra days.

– Keep away from light – Light exposure accelerates flavor and color deterioration. Store in dark places.

– Control humidity – Too much humidity can cause mold or seepage. The ideal humidity range is 50-80%.

– Don’t store bottles standing up – The corks will dry out and shrink, allowing air inside.

Proper storage conditions maximize the shelf life of Brut. Refrigeration and wine preservation systems help extend the drinkability window an extra several months or years.

Can You Drink Brut After It’s Been Frozen?

Freezing is never recommended for storing wine. The freezing and thawing process degrades Brut’s flavor and texture considerably. The carbonation is lost, aromas diminish, and the alcohol can take on unpleasant “hot” flavors.

Wine bottles may even crack or burst when frozen due to expansion of their contents. However, if frozen briefly (no more than a day or two), Brut won’t contain toxic compounds or make you sick after thawing out. The quality will suffer significantly though.

To rescue a bottle of Brut frozen by accident, thaw slowly over 24-48 hours in the refrigerator. This helps minimize disruption to the wine’s structure. Expect major changes to its flavor profile however. Do not attempt to open the bottle until completely thawed or it could explode due to trapped carbon dioxide.

Can You Cook With Bad Brut?

While no longer pleasant to drink straight, bad Brut’s acidic and oxidized flavors mellow significantly through cooking. Using expired Brut that has been stored properly in cooked dishes is generally safe. The alcohol and heat help destroy any harmful microbes that could be present.

Here are some recipes that are a tasty way to use up a bottle of old Brut:

Brut Vinegar

The high acidity makes spoiled Brut ideal for converting into wine vinegar. Simply pour it into a covered jar with a piece of fruit peel added for the natural yeasts. Let it sit for 2-3 weeks until it turns to vinegar. Use like any vinegar in recipes.

Brut Butter Sauce

A simple pan sauce of shallots, butter, and bad Brut makes an excellent accompaniment for seafood and poultry. The butter mellows the off-flavors.

Brut Poached Pears

Poaching pears in expiring Brut creates a light dessert. The wine’s tartness is tempered by the sweet fruit. Top with whipped cream or ice cream.

Brut Risotto

The dry, tart edge of spoiled Brut gives more flavor complexity to mushroom risotto or seafood-based risottos. Use it as part of the cooking liquid.

Brut Glaze

Simmering down expiring Brut creates a zesty glaze for meats like ham, chicken, or pork tenderloin. Mix in mustard, herbs, or citrus.


While Brut is optimally enjoyed fresh before its expiration date for the best fizz and flavors, it does not necessarily turn harmful or toxic immediately after the “best by” date. Stored correctly, Brut may retain its drinkability 1-2 years past its expiration date, even if opened. Signs of seepage, off aromas, terrible taste, or flat bubbles are indicators that Brut has spoiled and should not be consumed. Drinking bad Brut may cause digestive upset or a nasty hangover. To extend shelf life, store unopened bottles at 40°F-50°F in dark places with 50%-80% humidity. Leftover opened Brut should be used within 3-5 days and kept refrigerated. Freezing Brut is never recommended. However, spoiled Brut can be used in cooking as long as any moldy portions are trimmed off. With proper assessment of its condition, Brut stored well can often be safely consumed for a reasonable window after its expiration date.

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