Can Champagne Go Bad?

A bottle of champagne

We often drink champagne to celebrate important events in our life, but from time to time one might buy a bottle or two, store it in the cellar and forget about it. When we realize that, our first thought usually is – “can champagne go bad?”. Since champagne is a wine, we should treat it like one. That means that champagne might go bad, but in almost all cases it will be fine, provided it was stored pretty well. Let’s go through the most important facts about storing champagne, its shelf life and related issues.

How to store champagne

Champagne should be stored like any other alcohol. As long as it is unopened, you should store it a pretty cool and dry place, away from light. Many people store it in pantries and cellars and that’s a great choice. There’s no need to keep champagne in the fridge (it’s already almost full, isn’t it?). Another this it that the bottle shouldn’t be stored in a place where temperature often fluctuates (near heaters or other heat sources).

A bottle of champagne
(credit: jenny downing)

If a bottle of champagne will be stored for a prolonged period of time, lay it on its side. Why, you ask? This way the cork will be always moist and won’t deteriorate that fast. If the cork isn’t moist, after a few months it might start to develop tiny holes that let air in and this champagne will slowly (but surely) start to lose its taste over time.

After opening the bottle, champagne should be stored in the fridge. Remember to seal it with its cork, wine stopper or, if you don’t have a stopped and you can’t fit in the cork, a plastic wrap and a rubber band.

Shelf life of champagne

As mentioned in the beginning of the article, champagne, when stored properly, will be fine for long years. Here’s the catch – it doesn’t necessarily mean that a particular bottle of champagne should be stored for years. We need to make a distinction here – there are regular and vintage champagnes. Vintage ones are meant to be stored for long years as they age in the bottle. With time, their taste changes slightly, becomes richer and, as many wine lovers will admit, better. Regular champagnes are meant to be stored only for a few years maximum, as they don’t become better with time.

As long as the bottle is unopened, all of the above is true. Once you open the bottle, it’s best to drink the champagne as soon as you can. If you won’t finish the bottle the same day, you can put it into the fridge for a few days, but it will quite quickly lose its taste and become flat. After a few days you will probably choose to discard it due to its taste. Remember that.

How to tell if champagne is bad

As mentioned earlier, champagne can go bad. If it will be stored unsealed (or the cork will deteriorate badly), some contaminants can get into the bottle and start the spoiling process. It’s pretty easy to spot that a bottle of champagne is bad, you just need to smell it and (if you’re unsure if it’s good or not) taste a little. If it smells off or tastes really sour, chances are it’s bad and should be discarded.

As you already know, champagne can go bad but it happens very rarely. If it’s stored properly and drank within a day or two after opening the bottle, it will be perfectly fine.