We’ve all had it happen – you’re pulling the nice sheets down out of the closet to get the house ready for guests at the holidays, and you find it. A nice bottle of champagne someone gave you last Christmas (or the one before that). And suddenly you find yourself asking, “Does champagne expire?”
The answer to that question is, well, yes and no. Read on to learn more about what happens to champagne as it gets older, both before and after you open the bottle.
Vintage vs. Non-Vintage Champagne
The first thing you need to know to determine how long your champagne will last is whether it’s vintage or non-vintage. Vintage champagne is considered finer than non-vintage champagne and will last a little longer than non-vintage champagne.
Vintage champagne is made from grapes all harvested is a single year and bottle aged for three years. Non-vintage champagne grapes can come from a variety of years and is only bottle aged for 18 months.
The easiest way to check if your champagne is vintage or not is to see if the bottle has a year listed on it. If it does, it’s a vintage bottle, and if there’s no year, it’s a non-vintage bottle.
How Long Can You Keep Champagne in the Fridge Unopened?
How long you can keep champagne in the fridge unopened depends on whether it’s vintage or non-vintage. Vintage champagnes will expire between five or ten years in the fridge. Non-vintage champagnes need to be drunk within three to five years of buying them, even if they are in the fridge.
If you’re planning on storing your champagne for a few years, you ideally want to store the bottles away from light somewhere where the temperature won’t fluctuate. You don’t want anything that will vibrate the bottle, and you should keep it between 44 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Bottles that won’t be drunk for at least a month should be stored on their sides to prevent their corks from drying out.
How Long Does Veuve Clicquot Champagne Last?
Veuve Clicquot champagne is one of the most well-known champagne brands on the market today. They invented vintage champagnes in 1810, more than thirty years after the champagne house was opened. It is one of the classiest champagnes you can get, and it’s the kind of thing you may want to save for a special occasion.
Most of Veuve Clicquot’s champagnes have a listed aging potential of three years. But their Extra Brut Extra Old and their La Grande Dame have an aging potential of fifteen years, and their Vintage Brut 2012 has an aging potential of twenty-five years. The best policy is to check on the bottle when the specific champagne will expire or, to play it safe, drink within three years.
How Long Does Moet Champagne Last Unopened?
Moet is one of the largest and most popular champagne houses in the Champagne region. It was founded in 1743 and expanding in the 1970s and ’80s to become Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy, or LVMH. Today they own brands like Veuve Clicquot and have vineyards all over the world.
Like with the Veuve Clicquot, how long you can keep a bottle of Moet will depend on the specific champagne you have. Check the bottle and take a look at the wine’s profile on Moet’s site to get specific aging recommendations. But our philosophy is why delay the joy of opening a bottle of champagne?
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Does Champagne Get Better with Age?
If you’re a wine aficionado, you know that keeping bottles of still red and white wine can make them better. The flavors deepen the longer you let it age, becoming richer and more delicious. But in general, champagne does not benefit from more time in the bottle after you buy it because it can expire.
Champagne goes through some aging before it’s sold, but after that, more aging won’t add anything to the wine. In fact, the champagne might start to lose its bubbles after a certain period of time. So the best practice is to open it the first time an opportunity presents itself – and really, isn’t having a bottle of champagne cause enough for celebration?
Does Champagne Go Bad After Opening?
Once you open a bottle of champagne, the clock is running down on both the wine and the bubbles. The biggest time crunch, of course, is the fizz; as you’ll know from drinking champagne, bubbles can fade after just a few hours in an open glass. Storing the wine correctly can slow this process, but not stop it altogether.
The other thing that happens when you open a bottle of champagne is you expose it to the bacteria in the air. Some of these bacteria are acetic acid bacteria, which start to eat the alcohol in your champagne. What they spit out is acetic acid and acetaldehyde, which gives your wine a sharp, vinegary smell.
How Long Does Champagne Last After Opening?
In general, once you’ve opened a bottle of champagne, you need to drink it within a few days. Vintage bottles can last as long as four days after you’ve popped the cork. Non-vintage champagnes will only last for two or three days, and that’s if they’re stored correctly.
Once you’ve opened the bottle and poured the champagne, reseal it as quickly as possible. If you can’t get the original cork back in, use a wine stopper to close it up. Then keep it in the fridge (never the freezer) and drink it in the next two to three days.
Once it’s opened, you’ve only got a few days until your champagne expires.
Does Champagne Go Bad If It Gets Warm?
You may have heard before that if champagne gets warm, it’s ruined. That’s not true; you can rechill a bottle of champagne and have it serve just fine. But you do need to be careful how you do it to avoid a fountain of champagne on the floor and flat drinks after half an hour.
Champagne is infused with carbon dioxide which stays in the liquid under pressure and effervesces out into the characteristic bubbles when it’s poured. But warm champagne can’t hold as much of the carbon dioxide in the liquid and may overflow if it’s served warm or chilled quickly before serving. If a bottle of champagne gets warmed up, cool it back down slowly and let it sit at the chilled temperature for a while before you serve it.
In essence, keeping champagne bottles in a warm environment will reduce the time it takes to expire.
Can Old Champagne Make You Sick?
Expired champagne can lose its characteristic bubbles and go flat with a sour taste. Champagne that’s stored improperly can also start to form clumps or change color.
That being said, some people enjoy drinking flat champagne. And in the case of fine vintage bottles, you may trade off some of the bubbles for a richer, butterier taste. The only criteria for champagne that you shouldn’t drink is champagne that you don’t enjoy the taste of.
Whether it can make you sick depends on how old it is and if it’s been contaminated with bacteria. The potential for making you feel sick is always there and if you have any doubt, it’s best to avoid drinking very old champagne.
How Can I Tell If Champagne Has Expired?
Unfortunately, there’s not a great way to tell if champagne is bad before you open it. If you see damage to the cork or clumps floating in the champagne, that may be a good sign that it’s bad. If you have a clear bottle, you may also be able to see a change in the color of the champagne that will indicate it’s gone bad.
Once you’ve opened the bottle, there are several clear signs that the champagne isn’t good anymore. For one thing, there may not be the characteristic pop if there’s no carbonation left. You may also notice a flat, sour smell, and the wine will definitely taste sour. These are all clear signs your champagne has probably expired and, therefore, best not to drink it.
What to Do with Bad Champagne
If you have a bottle of champagne that’s gone bad, all is not lost. There are still some great ways you can put that champagne to use.
You can add sugar and fruit to your champagne and boil it down to a syrup to use in your summer cocktails. Flat champagne can also be great in pasta cream sauces, popsicles, or sangria. And if you don’t like the taste, you can lean into the acetic reaction, pop the champagne into a bottle with cheesecloth over the top, leave it for a few weeks, and have champagne vinegar to use as a topping on all sorts of food.
Answer the Question, “Does Champagne Expire?”
The short answer to the question “Does champagne expire?” is yes. It’s a good idea to drink a bottle of champagne within a year or two of getting it. But nicer bottles can keep for several years, and even if your champagne does go bad, you can still use it to make some delicious dishes.
If you’re interested in champagne related topics, check out our article on champagne hangovers.