Does sparkling wine have an expiration?

The short answer

Yes, sparkling wine does expire and has a shorter shelf life than still wine. The expiration date of sparkling wine depends on several factors, including the wine style, quality of the cork, and storage conditions. In general, an unopened bottle of Champagne or other high quality sparkling wine will last 2-3 years from the release date before quality starts to decline. Less expensive sparkling wines usually expire 1-2 years after release. Once opened, sparkling wine will only stay fresh for 1-3 days when stored properly in the fridge.

What makes sparkling wine expire faster?

There are a few reasons why sparkling wines expire more quickly than still wines:

  • Carbon dioxide – The bubbles in sparkling wine are carbon dioxide gas. Over time, this gas gradually escapes through the cork, causing the wine to lose effervescence and freshness.
  • Oxidation – When corks become dried out or damaged, oxygen can enter the bottle and cause the wine to oxidize faster. Oxidation leads to a loss of fruity flavors.
  • Yeast – Sparkling wine contains yeast which can continue to develop in the bottle, changing the flavor over time.
  • Lower alcohol content – Many sparkling wines have around 11-12% alcohol by volume, compared to 12-14% for still wines. The lower alcohol provides less preservative effect.

These factors make aging quality sparkling wine a delicate balancing act. The wine needs enough time to develop complexity, but not so long that it loses freshness and flavor.

How to tell if your sparkling wine has expired

Here are some signs that indicate your bottle of bubbly may be past its prime:

  • Loss of bubbles – If your sparkling wine has lost most of its effervescence, it could be a sign of a bad seal or that the wine is too old.
  • Off aromas – Expired sparkling wine may smell dull, musty or have a yeasty odor indicating continued fermentation in the bottle.
  • Oxidized flavors – A brown color and nutty, sherry-like flavors are red flags for oxidation.
  • Vinegar aroma – If your sparkling wine smells distinctly like vinegar, it has gone bad and become spoiled.
  • Cloudiness – Clear, bright wine turning to a brownish color can indicate a problem.

If the cork is pushed out or your sparkling wine exhibits any of these qualities, it’s best not to drink it. Always inspect the cork and do a quick visual assessment before serving.

How long different types of sparkling wine last unopened

Sparkling wine type Time till expiration unopened
Non-vintage Champagne 2-3 years from release date
Vintage Champagne 3-5 years from release date
High quality Cava 2-3 years from release date
Prosecco 1-2 years from release date
Inexpensive sparkling wine 6 months – 1 year from release

As shown, well-made Champagne and vintage sparkling wines have the longest shelf life of 2-5 years after disgorgement. Meanwhile, inexpensive mass produced options are best consumed within 6 months to a year.

Factors that impact how long sparkling wine lasts unopened

Several factors influence how long an unopened bottle of sparkling wine will stay drinkable:

  • Grape variety – Sparkling wines made from aromatic grapes like Pinot Noir tend to age more quickly than those with a neutral base like Chardonnay.
  • Production method – The traditional Champagne method produces wines with better aging potential than cheaper Charmat or carbonation methods.
  • Vintage vs non-vintage – Vintage dated sparkling wines usually have more longevity than non-vintage.
  • Sweetness level – Drier styles age better. The sugar content of sweeter wines can change faster over time.
  • Quality of cork – Higher grade natural corks prevent more oxygen exposure and help wine last longer.
  • Storage conditions – Ideal is 55-60°F with consistent temperature and humidity.

Higher quality bubbles made with traditional techniques, stored in optimal conditions, have the best chance of lasting 5+ years.

How long does sparkling wine last after opening?

Once opened, sparkling wine oxidizes quickly and loses its freshness. Here are some guidelines for maximum time it will stay drinkable:

  • Champagne or high quality sparkling wine – 3 days
  • Prosecco or inexpensive sparkling wine – 1-2 days

Factors that affect open bottle lifespan:

  • Temperature – Colder temps slow oxidation. Store open bottles in fridge.
  • Oxygen exposure – Leaving bubbles open to air speeds up oxidation.
  • Remaining wine – More wine left means less oxygen in bottle.
  • Cork/stopper – Sparkling wine stoppers best for multi-day storage.
  • Sweetness level – Sweeter wines survive longer after opening.

To maximize open sparkling wine life, store any unfinished bottles sealed and chilled. Finish within 2-3 days for the best quality.

How to store sparkling wine properly

Follow these sparkling wine storage tips:

  • Store unopened bottles on their sides to keep corks moist.
  • Choose a cool area around 55°F away from light and vibrations.
  • Cellar sparkling wine if possible for ideal humidity and temperature.
  • Once opened, keep sparkling wine chilled in the fridge.
  • Unfinished open bottles should be sealed with a sparkling wine stopper.
  • Consume any opened bottles within 2-3 days.

With proper storage, you can maximize the lifespan of both opened and unopened bottles. But remember, even in ideal conditions sparkling wine has a relatively short shelf life compared to still wine.

Can expired sparkling wine make you sick?

Drinking spoiled sparkling wine is unlikely to cause food poisoning or make you sick. However, expired bubbly may taste unpleasant.

Here are the main risks of drinking bad sparkling wine:

  • Unpleasant odors and vinegar-like taste.
  • Loss of refreshing effervescence.
  • Oxidized flavors.
  • A wine headache from high levels of histamines or sulfites.

While not dangerous, out of date sparkling wine provides a poor drinking experience. Always inspect bottles carefully and don’t drink any spoiled wine.

You can usually identify bad wine by changes in appearance, aroma and taste. Discard any sparkling wine that smells odd or seems cloudy. If mold is visible, do not consume the wine.

Ways to use expired sparkling wine

Don’t dump old sparkling wine that’s past its prime! You can repurpose flat or oxidized wine in these ways:

  • Use as a mixer for cocktails or mocktails.
  • Deglaze pans for sauces.
  • Cook mussels or clams.
  • Add to poaching liquid for fruit.
  • Make vinegar by innoculating with live vinegar culture.
  • Use in place of water to make jelly or jam.

Cooking masks any off flavors from expired wine. Avoid consuming oxidized sparkling wine straight.

With creative uses in the kitchen, you can avoid wasting sparkling wine that’s gone bad before drinking.

Does sparkling wine go bad once opened?

Yes, sparkling wine can go bad once opened as exposure to oxygen causes it to deteriorate quickly. Signs of spoiled open sparkling wine include:

  • Loss of carbonation and bubbles.
  • Dull or vinegar-like aroma and taste.
  • Off odors.
  • Cloudy appearance.

To maximize opened bottle lifespan:

  • Store opened sparkling wine in the fridge.
  • Finish within 2-3 days.
  • Seal opened bottles with stoppers.
  • Keep sparkling wine cold – don’t let it warm up.

With proper storage and consumption within a few days, opened bottles of sparkling wine can retain good quality and avoid going bad prematurely.


Sparkling wine has a shorter shelf life than still wine due to its effervescence, lower alcohol content, and continued yeast activity in bottle. Champagne and quality sparkling wines typically last 2-4 years after disgorgement when cellared properly. More affordable options last around 1-2 years.

Once opened, sparkling wine oxidizes rapidly and should be consumed within 2-3 days. Look for changes in aroma, taste and appearance to identify bad sparkling wine. Expired bubbly poses no health risks but provides a poor drinking experience. With proper storage and mindful consumption, you can enjoy sparkling wine before it goes bad.

Leave a Comment