Does Champagne Go Bad?

Does champagne go bad? Since champagne is technically a wine, it does go bad, but only in certain conditions. If you’ll store it properly, you can keep it for a long time, let it age and even enjoy it a couple of decades after it was bottled. Of course, not every champagne becomes better with age. So, if you’re not quite sure how to store champagne the right way or how long you can store it, this article will answer all your questions.

How to store champagne

Storing champagne is quite easy. As long as you don’t intend to use it within the next 1 or 2 days, keep it in the pantry or in an other place (like a cellar) where is quite cold. In fact, if there’s a little warmer than in a typical pantry (below 60 F or 15 C), it’s still fine to store the champagne there. Just make sure the temperature is below 65 F (or 18 C). What’s more important is that the temperature in that room shouldn’t fluctuate. Also, keep the bottle of champagne away from direct sunlight. One more thing – if you plan to keep this bottle of champagne for a long time, it’s a good idea to lay it on its side, so the cork will be moist all the time. What you should remember is that storing champagne in some kind of liquor cabinet in your room isn’t the best idea, provided you’d like to store it there for a pretty long time.

Enjoying the Champagne in a beautiful view
Image used under Creative Commons from Phil Hawksworth

It’s a good thing to transfer champagne to the fridge one or two days before drinking it. Once it is opened and you’d like to store it for later (e.g. for the next day), seal it tightly using its cork, a stopper or a plastic wrap and a rubber band.

What is the shelf life of champagne?

As long as the bottle of champagne is unopened and stored properly, you can keep it for many years. However, there are two major kinds of champagne: regular and vintage ones. Vintage champagnes are dated by year on the label and they’re made to be stored for a long time before opening (of course they are fine to open right away). With time, the flavor of a vintage champagne changes – bubbles become a little softer, the taste becomes more complex, less fruity and more nutty. It might develop some Sherry-like flavors as well.

On the other side, non-vintage champagnes are at their best quality within few years of the date of bottling. Of course it’s safe to store them for a lot longer, but their taste won’t necessarily become better with time. Possibly, those champagnes will start to lose their taste.

Once the bottle of champagne is opened, the sooner you drink the champagne, the better. If you’ll re-cork it and put into the fridge, it can be stored there for a couple of days, but it’ll quite quickly (in most cases in less than few days) become flat and lose some of the taste qualities. That’s why it’s the best to drink the champagne right after opening it, to get the most out of its distinguished taste.

How to tell if champagne is bad

It’s fairly easy to tell if champagne is bad – just examine its appearance, smell and taste. Chances of spotting any signs of mold in the bottle are close to zero, but it’s always good to take a look. If the drink has an off (or funny, etc.) odor, or it tastes somewhat sour, the best thing to do is to discard it. Flat champagne should be fine to drink, but you probably won’t want to do that anyway (what’s the point in drinking a bubble drink that is flat?).

All in all, champagne does go bad, similarly to any other wine. However, if you’ll store it properly, you can keep it for years and enjoy its distinguished taste even after few decades, provided it’s a vintage champagne. If it’s a regular one, I suggest you should use it within a couple of years after it was bottled.