Champagne should be stored upright, away from light, heat, and vibration, in a cool, dark place like a wine cellar or refrigerator. The ideal temperature is 45-50°F. Store champagne horizontally only for short-term aging. Long-term aging should be done upright to keep the cork moist and prevent leakage. Champagne can be aged 10-15 years or more if stored properly.
What are the best practices for storing champagne?
Here are the key best practices for storing champagne correctly:
- Store bottles upright – Keeping the bottles upright prevents the cork from drying out and shrinkage, which can lead to oxygen getting in and spoiling the champagne.
- Constant cool temperature – Between 45-50°F is ideal. Consistent cool temps are better than fluctuations.
- Away from light – Light can damage the wines over time, so a dark storage space is best.
- Minimal vibration – Vibrations from appliances or foot traffic can disturb the sediment.
- High humidity – A humidity level of 60-70% helps maintain the cork seal.
- No strong odors – Champagne can absorb odors from its environment that will alter its taste.
Cellars, wine fridges, and interior closets make good storage spots if they meet these conditions. Aging champagne horizontally is fine for the short-term, but upright storage is best for aging bottles more than a few months.
What temperature should champagne be stored at?
The ideal temperature range for storing champagne is 45-50°F. This cool cellar temperature provides stability and mimics the conditions of champagne caves in France. Temperatures closer to 50°F are better than cooler temps down near 45°F.
Champagne can be stored short-term at normal refrigerator temperature of 34-40°F. However, prolonged storage below 45°F can cause issues like distorted flavors, compromised cork seal, and a muted aroma.
Storing champagne above room temperature of 64-68°F is not recommended. The coolness helps preserve the bubbles and flavors. Higher temperatures will cause the champagne to age prematurely.
Should champagne be stored upright or on its side?
Champagne should be stored upright rather than on its side for long-term aging. Upright storage keeps the cork moist and swelled up against the bottle to prevent oxygen from getting in and spoiling the champagne. Over months or years stored on its side, the cork can dry out and shrink, creating gaps where air can enter.
However, short-term horizontal storage, such as during transportation, is fine. Some experts even recommend resting bottles for a few weeks or months on their sides to allow the sediment to settle in the neck away from the cork.
Once you plan to store bottles for an extended period, return them to an upright position. The exceptions would be vintage champagnes intended for very long aging, which may be better stored horizontally.
How long can champagne be stored?
With proper storage conditions, champagne and sparkling wines can be cellared for many years beyond their typical 3-5 years of peak drinkability. Well-made vintage champagnes have aging potential of 10-15 years or more.
Non-vintage and younger champagnes often peak at 5-7 years old. After this time, the flavors start to fade. Older champagne loses its freshness and fruity flavors, taking on more nutty and caramel notes.
If the seal remains intact, champagne won’t really go “bad” no matter how long it ages. However, extremely old champagne, say 50+ years, loses most of its bubbles and liveliness. The wine starts oxidizing and the color fades. While technically still safe to consume, the quality declines.
For the best experience, drink non-vintage within 5 years and vintage champagne between 5-15 years for optimal flavor and liveliness.
What are the best ways to check champagne for spoilage?
Here are tips for inspecting stored champagne bottles for spoilage:
- Look at the cork – It should be fully inserted and not pushed up. A dried, shriveled, wet, or moldy cork can signal issues.
- Check the color – Fading, browning or pinkish hues indicate oxidation.
- Give it a sniff – Off aromas like vinegar, oxidation, cooked veggies, or sherry indicate spoilage.
- Look for sediments – Cloudiness and excessive sediments also suggest spoilage.
- Check for bubbles – If poured, it should show lively, tiny bubbles. Lack of bubbles is a red flag.
- Taste it – Bad flavors like vinegar, acetone, and bitterness mean it’s gone bad.
If in doubt, use your senses during inspection along with the champagne’s storage history. Well-stored bottles with intact corks and packing are less likely to be spoiled.
How can you prevent champagne spoilage when storing?
Here are some tips for preventing spoilage when storing champagne:
- Keep bottles upright – Storing horizontally can dry corks and break the seal.
- Maintain cool, even temperature – Temperature swings degrade quality faster.
- Minimize light exposure – Keep bottles out of direct sunlight and fluorescent lights.
- Reduce vibration – Gently handle bottles to limit sediment agitation.
- Control humidity – Use a wine fridge or cellar to keep around 60-70% humidity.
- Ensure strong cellar hygiene – Discard moldy corks, wipe spills, keep pests away.
- Use clean, food-grade storage bins – Avoid contamination from dirty containers.
- Inspect condition twice yearly – Check corks, fill levels, and packaging for issues.
- Limit oxygen exposure – Use fresh corks, fill to proper levels, and top off wine preservers.
Taking preventative measures helps champagne retain quality and freshness over many years of storage. But occasionally opening a bottle to check its progress doesn’t hurt either!
What are the best champagne storage containers?
Champagne can be stored in various containers as long as they protect the wine. Here are some good storage options:
- Original packaging – Champagne producers use materials designed to protect the wine for transportation and short-term storage.
- Wine refrigerators – Temperature controlled units designed for long-term storage.
- Wine cellars – Underground spaces naturally keep cool, stable temps and humidity.
- Insulated wine cabinets – Display cabinets provide storage with moderate temperature protection.
- Cardboard/Styrofoam cases – Affordable but effective short-term storage option.
- Personal wine vaults – Individual metal storage units to protect valuable bottles.
- DIY wine crates – Sturdy wooden boxes can be used for short storage periods.
Avoid long-term storage in places like the garage, attic, or kitchen that see temperature swings. Use storage bins designed for wine when possible for best results.
What are the optimal humidity levels for storing champagne?
Keeping humidity around 60-70% is ideal for champagne storage. This helps maintain the cork seal and prevent the cork from drying out and shrinking.
Humidity much below 60% can start to dry out corks over time. This causes gaps where oxygen can enter and degrade the wine. Humidity levels above 70% risk potential mold growth on labels and corks.
Cellars carved into bedrock and underground naturally maintain higher humidity. Above ground wine storage will need a humidifier or beverage cooler with humidity control to stay in the 60-70% desired range.
Humidity meters and hygrometers can monitor conditions. Keeping several large containers of water in a storage area can also help regulate humidity.
Should champagne be stored in the refrigerator?
Storing champagne in the refrigerator is fine for short-term storage up to a few months. Typical refrigerator temps of 34-40°F fall in the acceptable range for champagne.
However, for aging champagne for years, a cellar or wine fridge around 45-50°F is better. Refrigerators tend to have more temperature fluctuations and vibration from the compressor. They also lack humidity control.
Make sure to store champagne upright in the refrigerator, as the shelves aren’t suitable for horizontal storage. Wrap bottles well or use a protective sleeve to limit light exposure. Only refrigerate as much champagne as you plan to consume within a few months.
Does champagne need to be stored in a dark place?
Yes, champagne should be stored in a dark place away from light. Both natural and artificial light can damage champagne over time. Here’s how light exposure negatively impacts champagne:
- Sunlight and UV rays – This ultraviolet radiation breaks down sulfur compounds and alters flavors.
- Fluorescent lights – The UV rays and heat from these lights can ruin champagne.
- Colored glass bottles – Green and colored glass filters less UV light than darker bottles.
- Label and cork fading – Light bleaches labels and corks, which can help indicate light damage.
- Slow development of “lightstruck” flavors – Prolonged exposure creates “wet cardboard” off-flavors.
Ideally, store champagne in a dark cellar or wine fridge. For short durations, use protective sleeves on clear and colored glass bottles. Limiting champagne’s exposure to light preserves quality and freshness.
What are the signs that champagne has gone bad from storage?
Here are some signs that stored champagne may have gone bad:
- Flat or missing bubbles – Lack of carbonation is a red flag.
- Cloudy appearance – Excessive sediment suggests spoilage.
- Off aromas – Smells like vinegar, nail polish, or oxidation.
- Bad flavors – Tastes like vinegar, acetone, bitter, or salty.
- White crystals or crunchy bits – Tartaric acid crystals or cork taint.
- Lower liquor level – Space at the top suggests leaking cork.
- Pushed up cork – Indicates pressure buildup from re-fermentation.
- Dry, shriveled, rotten cork – Lets oxygen in to spoil the wine.
- Signs of seepage – Drips, stains, or damp labels signal leakage.
- Browning, fading color – Oxidation and chemical changes over time.
Champagne with any of these issues should be discarded. If the bottle was properly stored and shows no visible defects, it may still be drinkable. Use your senses to determine quality.
Can champagne be salvaged if stored improperly?
Champagne stored improperly for long periods may still be salvageable in some cases. Here are some steps to try salvaging improperly stored champagne:
- Inspect the bottle carefully – Check for low fill level, cork issues, seepage.
- Open carefully over a sink – Older bottles may overflow from sediment agitation.
- Pour slowly into a decanter – Leave heavy sediment behind.
- Aerate well before tasting – Allow bubbles to dissipate and flavors open up.
- Consider rapid chilling – Quick chilling can minimize off flavors in some cases.
- Try adding a dash of sugar – A tiny bit of sugar can mask minor oxidation flaws.
- Blend with fresher champagne – Mixing in fresher wine can improve the flavor profile.
However, champagne stored at very high temperatures for many years or with badly dried, rotten corks may be too far gone to salvage. Use common sense – if the champagne smells or looks badly off, it’s best not discarded. Proper storage is always the key for maximal longevity and quality.
Is it necessary to cellar champagne before drinking?
Cellaring champagne before drinking is not required, but it can improve the flavors in many cases. Here are some potential benefits of cellaring champagne for 1-5 years before opening:
- Smoother, more integrated flavors – Aging blends disparate flavors.
- More complex, yeasty, nutty notes – These develop with bottle aging.
- Better mouthfeel – Extended lees contact enriches texture.
- Clearer wine – Sediment settles, leaving a bright appearance.
- Mature flavors – Young, sharp edges soften over time.
- Legendary vintages – Cellaring allows enjoying great years at their peak.
- Milestone celebrations – Older champagne pairs well with important occasions.
That said, there is no need to wait if celebrating and wanting to enjoy champagne right away. Many non-vintage and young champagnes are bottled ready to drink immediately. Just follow proper storage protocols until ready to pop those corks!
How often should you check on stored champagne?
It’s a good idea to check stored champagne every 6 months or so. This allows you to inspect bottles and storage conditions. Things to check include:
- Cork condition – Look for dried, pushed, or moldy corks.
- Fill level – Top off wine preservers or replace corks if levels are low.
- Sediment – Note any bottles with excessive sediment buildup.
- Labels – Watch for mold, fading, or water stains.
- Shelving – Check for racking issues, dirt, or pests.
- Temperature & humidity – Ensure proper storage environment.
- Light exposure – Look for fading and move bottles as needed.
Checking twice a year catches any developing problems with bottles or storage early before the champagne is compromised. This quick inspection helps avoid spoilage and ensures your champagne is preserved optimally.
Proper storage is key to making champagne and sparkling wines last as long as possible. Keep bottles upright at 45-50°F in a cool, dark place with 60-70% humidity. Minimize light, vibration, and strong odors. Refrigerators or wine fridges work for shorter storage periods, while cellars and specialized wine cabinets are better for long-term aging. Non-vintage champagne peaks around 5 years, while vintage bottles last 10-15+ years in good conditions. Inspect stored bottles every 6-12 months. With the right storage and care, treasured bottles of champagne can be enjoyed for many years past their youth. Using proper storage techniques allows you to save champagne for life’s biggest celebrations and milestones.