Unlike other alcoholic beverages such as whiskey, champagne does indeed go bad whether it is opened or still sealed. Champagne deteriorates quite quickly after being opened. Most people will start to taste the difference in as little as 24 hours.
Now that you know there is an expiration date to that gorgeous bottle of champagne you got, let us take this article as a chance to know how to properly store and serve it. You probably want to save the champagne for an event with your friends or colleagues. The first thing to keep in mind is that the best way to serve the champagne is with the dessert portion of your meal.
Moreover, you will want to use a fresh bottle since champagne is usually an alternative to sweeter-tasting dessert wine. A fresh bottle of champagne will not only have the bubbles that make it special but will also not taste sour or smell like it. In this article, we will focus on the shelf life of champagne, how to properly store it, and a few tips to help you spot champagne that has gone bad.
How Long Till Champagne Goes Bad?
Several factors determine how long a bottle of champagne can stay fresh. Most of the reasons have to do with the way the drink is made, and others entail the means of storage and use. With that said, you should not expect to see any sell-by dates on that bottle of champagne you just bought.
The first factor has to do with the means of production of the champagne. Champagne can either be vintage or non-vintage. Contrary to what you may think, the difference between vintage champagne and non-vintage champagne has nothing to do with their age.
Vintage champagne is any champagne that has been produced from several grapes that were obtained from just one year’s harvest. Vintage champagne only comprises about 5% of all champagne productions. To put that into perspective, vintage champagne is only produced three or four times in ten years.
Non-vintage champagne on the other hand is made from a mixture of different years’ harvest. It is curated by growers and champagne houses by accumulating and blending different vintage champagnes from various years. This is why vintage champagne labels have a specific year of production engraved on the bottle whereas non-vintage champagnes do not. That is because the vintage has grapes from just one year, unlike non-vintage which has grapes from several different years.
Vintages last longer, up to approximately five to ten years if kept at room temperature and left unopened. Non-vintages will only last three to four years if kept at room temperature and left unopened. Neither one of them can stay fresh for more than five days if it has been opened. The champagne will lose its taste and sparkle in less than a day.
It should also be noted that the production year printed on the champagne bottle is not used to indicate the year the drink was bottled. The year indicates the period in which the grapes were harvested to make the champagne.
Another factor that affects the longevity of champagne is the methods of storage. We will discuss the various ways of storing champagne for long-term or short-term duration later on in this article. For now, you can be assured that your champagne will last longer if you store it in a cool and dark place such as a cellar.
These three factors; means of production, opened or sealed, and the means of storage, will determine the expiration date for your wine. This is to say that the shelf-life isn’t constant or set in stone, it can vary depending on these factors. The same can be said for sparkling wine since the only difference between it and champagne is the place of production.
Champagne expires as quickly as the quickest expiring ingredient in the ingredients list.
Make sure to check the list the next time you buy a bottle of champagne. If you know the expiration period for several champagne ingredients, then you can be able to pick the bottle that will last longer.
How to Spot Champagne that has Gone Bad?
You should be able to tell if the champagne has gone bad fairly quickly. You probably won’t need an expert to identify the signs of sour champagne. You will spot champagne that has gone bad in as little as 3 days. This will of course depend on whether the bottle was opened or sealed.
Keep in mind that champagne has a peak drinking period. The period depends on the type of wine and the recommendation from experts. After this peak drinking period, the champagne may lose its flavor and give the impression that it has gone bad.
Moreover, a lot of vintage champagne lasts for years, after which they lose their bubbles but this does not mean the drink has gone bad. The aromas and flavors will still be retained after years of storage. Meaning that the champagne hasn’t necessarily gone bad if it goes flat. Oxidation happens the second you open the bottle, this results in the champagne losing its bubbles and fizz but not its flavors.
Here are a few things that can indicate a bottle of champagne that has gone bad or is in the process of going bad:
- A sour smell and taste. Smell and taste are some of the first indicators of bad champagne. Fresh champagne will taste and smell like fresh fruit with hints of a bready taste with melon flavor. The smell and taste are subjective but a good bottle will always taste fruitier than your average drink. A bottle of sour-tasting champagne can be compared to the taste of mushrooms.
- A deep yellow or deep gold color. Fresh champagne has a hint of pale yellow and light gold colors with sparkles and bubbles of the same gradient. Through exposure to air, heat, and sunlight, the champagne undergoes oxidation and other processes that turn its color. The colors will often get darker and deeper as the champagne deteriorates with age.
- Cloudy sediment or the presence of clumps in the bottle. If the champagne isn’t properly stored, then the cork may allow in contaminants that form insoluble solutions in the drink.
The best way to judge the expiration of champagne is to research the specific bottle and brand to find focused timelines and signs. Your regular use will be a clear indicator as well since you will naturally be able to taste and smell the difference if you have drunk the champagne for some time.
How to Properly Store Champagne – Short-Term and Long-Term
Keep in mind that one of the defining elements of champagne is its sparkles and bubbles. You want to store it using a method that will keep it fizzing the longest. With that said, refrigerators are not an option for long-term storage. The reason behind this is that refrigerators create an environment of low humidity that changes the state of the bubbles and makes champagne go flat quickly.
Here are a few tips to help you store your champagne properly for the long term (more than a month):
- Avoid fridges as much as possible by using cellars or pantries as the perfect storage place for your champagne. The drink will degrade much slower in these cool dark places as compared to bright places that are near sunlight or any form of artificial light.
- The recommended consistent temperature for storing the champagne is between 50 and 59-degrees Fahrenheit at 70-85% humidity.
- Store the bottle of champagne while it is lying horizontally on a shelf or rack to make sure the cork remains moist. This is to prevent the cork from drying up and cracking, thereby letting in air and moisture into the bottle.
Here are a few tips to help you store your champagne properly for the short term (less than a month):
- Store the bottle of champagne in an upright position and preferably somewhere that is far from bright artificial light.
- You can put it in the fridge if it is meant to be drunk in less than three days. Any more days than that may find your bottle already spoilt.
- Plastic wrap and bottle stoppers for champagne bottles are the best seals to use if you are storing the bottle in a fridge. Unlike bottle corks, these two seals won’t be popped out by the accumulated carbonation pressure in the bottle while it’s still in the fridge.
How to Properly Serve Champagne – To Make it Go Bad Slower and Taste Better
Champagne is one of those drinks that are meant to be enjoyed with every sip. This is why there is a huge cult-like etiquette for drinking it. The etiquette revolves around good dining manners and proper ways of serving the drink to make it last longer, more enjoyable, and fresh. The main key is to maintain the bubbles as long as possible and keep the drink as chill as it can get without losing flavor.
Here are the proper steps of serving champagne:
- Make sure the champagne is chilled but noticed. Chilling champagne can be done by putting the bottle in a refrigerator for no more than three hours. The three hours are more than sufficient to make sure the serving temperature is between 50-59-degrees Fahrenheit. The time frame is there to prevent the drink from going flat and losing its flavor due to too much cold.
- Needless to say, accidentally spilling the drink makes it last for a shorter period. Pay attention when opening the bottle so that you do not spill it. Tilt the bottle at a 45-degree angle with one hand at the base and one on top of the cork. Twist slowly while releasing the cork. Running a warm fluid on the neck will help loosen the cork.
- The purpose of champagne glasses shaped like tulips is to keep the bubbles in for as long as possible. Avoid using other cups such as mugs since they will not hold the bubbles and aromas in them for long due to their shape and width.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are the Unique Ingredients in Champagne?
It is common to mistake sparkling wine with champagne. Do not be frustrated if you cannot tell the difference between what is champagne and what is not. The only distinguishing factor is that champagne is the sparkling wine that comes from Champagne, a famous region in the country of France. If the drink isn’t made in Champagne then it is called sparkling wine.
Sparkling wine include champagne, cava, prosecco, and fragolino. They are all made from three basic blends of grapes, namely; pinot noir, chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier. Other grapes such as Pinot Blanc, pinot gris, petit meslier, and arbane are also used but not as frequently as the first three.
Some are made from only chardonnay such as the ones labeled ‘blanc de blancs’. Others may be made from pinot noir specifically and those are what we call ‘blanc de noirs’.
Approximately 90% of all champagne is made from 2/3 red and 1/3 chardonnay mixes that comprise the whole drink. The champagne is made using a procedure called ‘The Classic Method’. The process is very demanding when it comes to labor which is why it takes ages to make champagne. The process involves grape picking and fermentation it is during its second fermentation that champagne gains its sparkles.
2. Ways of Keeping the Fizz in Champagne and Maintain its Freshness.
The best way to keep the champagne fresh is to make sure the bottle is sealed and completely air-tight. You can achieve this by using a tight seal such as a champagne stopper. The champagne bottle stoppers are easily accessible through online shops and retailers.
You can use the stoppers after a meal or in between refilling everyone’s glass. The idea is to make sure the champagne rarely gets time to breathe and trap in air. You can achieve the same results with the original cork but it won’t have as impressive results as the bottle stoppers.
A plastic wrap will also do the trick if you have no cork or stopper. Take the plastic wrap and cover the top of the bottle with it, making sure to use a rubber band to hold it tight. As stated earlier, you should not put the bottle in the fridge if it is going to stay there for long. However, you can place the wrapped bottle in the fridge for short amounts of time to slow the release of Carbon dioxide.
3. Can Champagne That Has Gone Bad Make You Sick?
Did you know you can make vinegar out of flat or expired champagne? Champagne that has gone bad is still useful and is relatively harmless when it comes to your health. Overindulging in sour champagne will cause some stomach issues. However, on a general basis, you will never have a reason not to drink your expired wine, apart from the fact that it tastes bitter and flavorless of course.
You should pay attention to the condition of the champagne even if you know it has gone bad. In case the cork developed holes and allowed in contaminants, then you won’t be able to tell what inclusions might be in the bottle. It is advisable not to consume any item that is expired even though it may not cause any bodily harm.