Does Champagne Go Bad?

published Nov 23, 2022
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While some of us need no convincing, others hesitate to open Champagne unless it’s a very special occasion and they’re absolutely certain they’ll finish the whole bottle. It’s an understandable impulse. While Champagne doesn’t go bad in the same way that spoiled milk or rotten fruit does, its flavors and character will change once the bottle is uncorked, and it will lose its effervescence over time. Depending on how it’s stored, it can also pick up off flavors and unwelcome odors. 

Fortunately, if you store your Champagne properly and treat it right once you’ve popped it open, you can make the most of every bottle.

How to Store Champagne Before You Open It

The best way to store Champagne is on its side, to keep the cork from drying out and potentially crumbling or letting too much oxygen into your wine.

In addition to storing Champagne on its side, you should try to keep it in a cool, dark place. “You don’t have to have a wine cellar or fridge,” says Maria C. Hunt, a wine educator who specializes in sparkling wine and Champagne. “Maybe it’s part of your kitchen or in the pantry, just as long as it’s not going to get jostled.”

Most wine experts say the ideal temperature for Champagne storage is between 50 and 55°F, but consistency is more important than the number on the thermometer. So, it’s better to keep a prized bottle in a dark corner of a cool closet than in your refrigerator, where the temperature fluctuates and light goes on and off every time you open or close the door. 

How to Store Champagne After You Open It

Once you pop the cork, keep your Champagne cold. An ice bucket filled with ice water is ideal, Hunt says. 

“You don’t have to have a silver Champagne bucket; you could use a deep pot of some sort,” says Hunt. “I’ve seen people at a party set up a cooler, wrap a tablecloth around it to make it look pretty, and fill it with ice to store their sparkling wine, Champagne, and water for their guests.”

The key is to keep it slightly colder than your fridge temperature.

How Long Does Champagne Last?

Unopened Champagne: The lifespan of an unopened bottle of Champagne depends on how you store it and the type of bubbles in the bottle. Champagne will either have a year or the words non-vintage (often abbreviated as NV) on its label. If there’s a year, that’s called a vintage Champagne and can age for decades. Uncorked bottles of non-vintage (NV) Champagne, on the other hand, are made by blending different years of wine, and tend to have a shorter shelf life. 

Open Champagne: Once you’ve opened a bottle of Champagne, most wine professionals believe it’s best to consume it within the next 24 hours. However, if you simply cannot polish it all off that day, a Champagne stopper, or reusable device that temporarily reseals open bottles, can help preserve its freshness for three or four days. 

How Can You Tell If Champagne Is Bad?

Champagne doesn’t spoil, exactly, but it will start to oxidize if it’s left open for several days, if it’s stored in hot, bright conditions, or if its cork dries out. Oxidized Champagne isn’t dangerous to drink, but it may have different flavors than the winemakers intended. 

“Over time, if there’s a lot of oxygen in the bottle, the flavor will continue to evolve, and you’ll start to lose some of those top notes in your wine. That’s why you want to drink it within a few days,” Hunt says.

5 Ways to Use Leftover Champagne in Recipes

If you’re unable to drink all your Champagne before it goes flat or the flavors begin to oxidize, there are plenty of uses for an open bottle of bubbles. Here are five of our favorite ways to use leftover Champagne to make baked goods or condiments, or to swap in for white wine in savory recipes.