Can grape juice go bad?

In this short article, we will answer the question, “Can grape juice go bad?”. We will also discuss how to store grape juice,  what is its shelf life and what happens if you consume spoiled grape juice.

Can grape juice go bad?

Yes, grape juice can go bad after its expiration date and if it is improperly stored. It is also possible that grape juice has been contaminated and expired before its expiration date. 

Since grape juice can deteriorate with time, just like any other perishable food or drink, its freshness and quality can be affected by factors such as exposure to air, temperature fluctuations, and the presence of microorganisms (1). 

When grape juice smells bad or sour, it has rotted and should be thrown out. The odor might be stale or moldy, signaling the development of unfavorable microbes (1,2).

In general, fruit juices, owing to their acidic nature, are not conducive to the proliferation of spoilage and harmful microorganisms, rendering them relatively secure and appealing to consumers. 

However, yeasts and molds are primarily responsible for the spoilage of fruit juices. These microorganisms can thrive in challenging conditions characterized by low pH levels, reduced water activity, and high sugar concentrations. Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Aspergillus niger are prevalent culprits when it comes to fruit juice spoilage (2).

What is the shelf life of grape juice?

The shelf life of grape juice is up to 2 years, however it can be influenced by temperature and storing it at specific temperatures can help maintain its quality and extend its freshness.

When refrigerated at 40°F (4°C) or below, unopened grape juice can retain its quality for approximately 1 to 2 years from the production date. Once opened, refrigerated grape juice can typically remain fresh for about 7 to 10 days. However, sensory indicators such as odor, taste, and appearance should be used to assess its freshness before consuming (3). 

If stored at room temperature around 70°F (21°C), unopened grape juice can generally maintain its quality for a shorter period compared to refrigerated storage. 

When it comes to open grape juice at room temperature, it may start to deteriorate more quickly. It is advisable to refrigerate the juice once opened and consume it within 7 to 10 days to ensure freshness. 

Do not let opened juice for more than 2 hours at room temperature because leaving it out too long can cause bacteria (such as Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella Enteritidis, Escherichia coli O157:H7) to grow to dangerous levels that can cause illness (3,4).

What affects the shelf life of grape juice?

Microbial activity

Grape juice contains natural sugars that can provide a suitable environment for microbial growth. Microorganisms such as yeast and bacteria can be present in the juice or introduced during processing, and their activity can lead to spoilage. 

If the juice is not properly pasteurized or if it becomes contaminated after opening, microbial growth can accelerate, causing off-flavors, fermentation, and potential health risks (5).


Grape juice is susceptible to oxidation, which occurs when it comes into contact with air. Exposure to oxygen can lead to the breakdown of compounds in the juice, causing changes in flavor, color, and nutritional quality. 

Oxidation can be accelerated by factors such as high temperatures, light exposure, and prolonged storage (6).

Enzymatic reactions

Grape juice contains enzymes that can cause undesirable changes over time. For example, enzymes like polyphenol oxidase can lead to browning or discoloration of the juice when exposed to oxygen. Enzymatic activities can also contribute to changes in flavor, texture, and nutrient content (7).

pH and acidity

The pH level and acidity of grape juice can influence its shelf life. Higher acidity levels can inhibit the growth of certain microorganisms, helping to extend the juice’s freshness. However, extreme acidity can also lead to taste changes or the precipitation of compounds, affecting the overall quality (8,9).


Storage temperature is a critical factor in determining the shelf life of grape juice. Higher temperatures can promote microbial growth and enzymatic activities, accelerating spoilage. Refrigeration helps slow down microbial and enzymatic processes, preserving the quality of the juice for a longer period (10).


Additives can affect the shelf life of grape juice by extending it. Certain additives, such as preservatives like potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate, help inhibit the growth of microorganisms like yeast, molds, and bacteria, which can cause spoilage. 

Additionally, antioxidants like ascorbic acid (vitamin C) or vitamin E can be added to delay oxidation, which can lead to flavor changes and nutrient degradation (16).

How to tell if grape juice has gone bad?

To tell if grape juice has gone bad you should be able to identify the signs of spoilage. Right down below we separated the main signs of bad grape juice. 

Off odor

Grape juice can smell bad or sour when it starts to deteriorate. This unpleasant smell is a blatant sign that the juice has spoiled as a result of the development of unfavorable microbes. 

The juice may have undergone an alteration brought on by the activity of yeast or bacteria if the aroma is indicative of fermentation. Alternately, the odor may be rancid or moldy, which suggests the presence of dangerous microorganisms. 

It is advisable to discard grape juice if it has an unpleasant or unusual smell rather than risk drinking damaged or potentially dangerous juice (11).


The color of fresh grape juice is often vivid and translucent, reflecting its natural appearance. However, substantial color changes, such as browning or cloudiness, can be a signal of spoiling. Browning may occur due to oxidation, suggesting that the juice has been exposed to air and has deteriorated. 

Cloudiness can indicate the presence of particles or microbiological development. Any visible color changes that differ from the juice’s initial look may indicate that it is no longer fresh and should be avoided (11,12).

Unusual taste

Spoiled grape juice frequently develops an unusual flavor that is unique from its original flavor. It may have a sour, vinegary, or fermented flavor. When natural sugars in juice are turned into alcohol by yeast or bacteria, the fermentation process occurs. 

As a result, the flavor is altered and disagreeable. If the grape juice tastes noticeably different or has a strange, off-putting flavor, it is spoiled and should not be consumed (11,12).

Presence of mold or particles

Visible mold growth or floating particles in grape juice indicate deterioration. Mold can develop on the surface of the juice as fuzzy patches or clusters ranging in color from white to green or black. Mold development suggests the presence of potentially toxic fungus. 

The presence of particles or silt in the juice also indicates contamination or microbial activity. To avoid potential health risks, dump the grape juice immediately if you notice any mold development or visible particles (11,13).

How to store grape juice?

To store grape juice, maintain a consistent temperature, preferably between 40°F (4°C) and 70°F (21°C). Keep the grape juice in a cool, dark place, such as a pantry or cupboard and make sure to protect the juice from direct sunlight or heat sources, as they can degrade its quality (3).

Storing in the refrigerator makes the fermentation process slower. When grape juice is kept in the refrigerator, there is very little probability of bacterial or fungal growth, therefore the risk of spoilage is quite low (3,14).

Avoid cross-contamination keeping the grape juice away from strong-smelling substances or foods that can transfer flavors or odors. Store it separately from items such as onions, garlic, or cleaning chemicals to preserve its taste and aroma (3,14).

What happens if you consume spoiled grape juice?

Consuming spoiled grape juice can have various adverse effects on your health. When grape juice spoils, it can become contaminated with harmful microorganisms or undergo chemical changes that make it unfit for consumption. The main symptoms of consuming spoiled grape juice are:

  • stomach cramps
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Spoiled grape juice may contain pathogenic microorganisms such as bacteria (e.g., Salmonella, E. coli) or molds that can cause foodborne illnesses (4).

Molds that cause infections in contaminated juice include filamentous fungus, which can create harmful secondary metabolites known as mycotoxins. Alternaria, Aspergillus, and Penicillium species capable of producing mycotoxins such as alternariol and aflatoxin B1 offer a serious hazard to human health (15).


In this short article, we have answered the question, ”Can grape juice go bad?”. We also discussed how to store grape juice, what is its shelf life and what happens if you consume spoiled grape juice. 


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(9). S Kodur. “Effects of juice pH and potassium on juice and wine quality, and regulation of potassium in grapevines through rootstocks (Vitis): A short review”. Vitis-Geilweilerhof, 2011, 50(1).

(10).SE, Spayd, et al. “Separation of Sunlight and Temperature Effects on the Composition of Vitis vinifera cv. Merlot Berries”. American Journal of Enology and Viticulture, 2022, 53(3).

(11). Vijayalakshmi Shankar, et al. “A review on microbial degradation of drinks and infectious diseases: A perspective of human well-being and capabilities”. Journal of King Saud UniversityScience, 2021, 33, 101293.

(12). Bartowsky, E.J., Pretorius, I.S. “Microbial Formation and Modification of Flavor and Off-Flavor Compounds in Wine“. In: König, H., Unden, G., Fröhlich, J. (eds) Biology of Microorganisms on Grapes, in Must and in Wine. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, 2009.

(13). S. Drusch.” Mycotoxins in Fruits, Fruit Juices, and Dried Fruits “. Journal of Food Protection. 2003, 66, 1514-1527.

(14). Rebecca C. Deed. “Influence of Fermentation Temperature, Yeast Strain and Grape Juice on the Aroma Chemistry and Sensory Profile of Sauvignon Blanc Wines“. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2017, 65(40).

(15). Juliane Elisa Welke. “Fungal and mycotoxin problems in grape juice and wine industries. Current Opinion in Food Science“. Opinion in Food Science. 2019, 29, Pages 7-13

(16). Piper, Joseph D, and Peter W Piper. “Benzoate and Sorbate Salts: A Systematic Review of the Potential Hazards of These Invaluable Preservatives and the Expanding Spectrum of Clinical Uses for Sodium Benzoate.” Comprehensive reviews in food science and food safety, 2017, 16, 868-880.

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