Will champagne go bad if it gets warm?

Quick Answers

Champagne can go bad if it gets too warm for an extended period of time. The ideal storage temperature for champagne is 55°F or below. At higher temperatures, the carbonation and flavor can be negatively affected. However, brief temperature spikes up to 70°F likely won’t cause rapid deterioration. As long as the champagne cools back down and continues aging under proper cellaring conditions, it should still taste good and have lively bubbles when opened.

How Champagne Is Made

Champagne is a sparkling white wine made exclusively from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France. There are three main grapes used:

  • Pinot Noir
  • Pinot Meunier
  • Chardonnay

The wine goes through two fermentations. The first fermentation turns the grape juice into a dry base wine. The second fermentation occurs when yeast and sugar are added to the wine again, producing carbon dioxide that gets trapped and dissolved into the wine. This is what creates the signature bubbles in champagne.

Traditional Method

The traditional method of making champagne is known as méthode champenoise. This is a labor-intensive process in which the second fermentation takes place inside each individual bottle. The key steps include:

  1. Yeast and sugar are added to the dry base wine to start the second fermentation.
  2. Bottles are sealed with a temporary cap and aged, allowing the carbon dioxide to be absorbed.
  3. The yeast is consolidated and collected in the neck of the bottle.
  4. The yeast deposit is frozen and expelled from the bottle.
  5. A small amount of wine and sugar (known as the dosage) is added to adjust sweetness.
  6. The final cork is inserted and secured with a wire hood.

This traditional technique requires a significant amount of time, care, and manual labor. Bottles must be turned and tilted periodically to allow yeast sediment to settle into the neck. The whole process can take 1.5-3 years before bottles are ready for release.

Charmat Method

Some producers use a more economical bulk process called the Charmat or tank method. In this method, the second fermentation takes place in a large pressurized tank rather than individual bottles. The fermented wine is then filtered, dosed with sugar, and bottled under pressure.

While the Charmat method requires less time and handling, many champagne enthusiasts argue it produces smaller and less persistent bubbles with fewer yeast-derived flavors. However, it’s still a valid way to make quality sparkling wine. Many affordable bubblies are made using the Charmat process.

Optimal Storage Conditions

To maintain quality and prevent premature aging, champagne should be stored properly. Here are the ideal cellar conditions:

  • Temperature: 45°F – 55°F (7°C – 13°C)
  • Humidity: 60% – 80%
  • Dark environment free from vibration
  • Bottles rested on their sides to keep corks moist

The optimal temperature range helps preserve the carbonation and prevent the champagne from aging too quickly. Cellars carved into chalk rock are perfect storage solutions, as the caves have cool, stable temperatures around 55°F and high humidity.

For consumers without wine cellars, the main goal is keeping bottles away from heat, light and excessive motion. Storing champagne horizontally in the refrigerator is a good option.

Serving Temperature

While meant to be stored cool, champagne is typically served chilled but not as cold as the cellar. The ideal serving temperature is around 45°F – 50°F (7°C – 10°C). Here are some tips for quick chilling before serving:

  • Place bottle in ice bucket or fridge for 1-2 hours
  • Submerge bottle for 15-30 minutes in ice and water
  • Wrap bottle in damp towel and place in freezer for 10 minutes

Too much heat can dull champagne’s delicate effervescence and flavors. But serving it icy cold mutes the aroma and masking subtle notes. Shooting for the 45°F – 50°F sweet spot helps highlight the champagne’s crisp acidity and complexity.

How Temperature Affects Champagne Quality

Exposure to high temperatures can speed up chemical aging processes and cause champagne to go bad prematurely. Here’s a look at how warmth impacts:

Carbonation Loss

The carbon dioxide bubbles in champagne come from trapped CO2 produced during fermentation. Heat accelerates the speed at which the gas dissipates from the wine. Storing and serving champagne at warmer temperatures causes it to go flat more quickly.


Oxygen exposure leads to oxidation, which can give the wine sherry-like aromas. The cool cellar temperatures help minimize interaction with oxygen. But at higher temps, oxidation occurs more rapidly due to increased chemical activity.

Loss of Delicate Flavors

Heat can cause the fresh and fruity flavors of young champagne to fade more quickly. Extended warmth mutes the delicate citrus, fruit, floral, and mineral notes that give champagne complexity and vibrancy.

Browning Color Change

gradual pinking or browning in the wine’s color is a telltale sign of excess heat damage. This premature aging effect is caused by phenolic compounds in the champagne oxidizing more rapidly at warmer temperatures.

How Long Does Champagne Last?

When stored under optimal cellar conditions, champagne has impressive longevity. Here are the general guidelines on how long champagne lasts:

  • Non-vintage: 2 – 3 years from disgorgement date
  • Vintage: at least 10 years from disgorgement date
  • Prestige cuvée: 10+ years from disgorgement date

Non-vintage champagne is a blend of different vintages meant for near-term consumption. Vintage champagne comes from a single year and can age longer. Prestige cuvées are made from top Grand Cru grapes via the traditional méthode champenoise.

However, once opened, champagne oxidizes quickly and should be consumed within 2-3 days. Using a tight stopper can help prolong freshness for up to 5 days.

Disgorgement Date

The disgorgement date indicates when the yeast sediment was removed from the bottle at the end of the méthode champenoise. This date essentially signals the start of champagne’s peak drinking window. The disgorgement date is often printed on the back label near the LOT or batch code.

Signs of Heat Damage

While a little heat won’t instantly spoil champagne, extended exposure to warm conditions can cause issues. Here are some visual and aromatic clues of heat damage:

  • Lack of bubbles or coarse texture
  • Off aromas of caramel, sherry, or acetone
  • Oxidized brown color
  • Vinegary or sour taste
  • Flat, sweet flavor

If the champagne smells odd or looks brown, it is likely oxidized from heat and best to discard. But if it only got briefly warm and was recooled, it may retain decent quality. Tasting is the best way to determine if heat damage has occurred.

Acceptable Warm Temperature Spikes

Brief temperature increases outside of the ideal 45°F – 55°F range won’t necessarily ruin champagne:

  • Short-term spikes up to 70°F could be acceptable if cooled down promptly.
  • Avoid prolonged exposure to temperatures above 65°F.
  • Chilling again after warm transport should help preserve bubbles and flavor.

So while room temperature storage isn’t recommended, a champagne shipment arriving warm doesn’t mean it needs to be written off if you can get it refrigerated fast. However, extended heat exposure above 65°F can accelerate aging and deterioration. When in doubt, do a taste test to check quality.

Can You Refrigerate Champagne After Serving Warm?

If champagne gets too warm during serving, it can be cooled down again as long as it remains freshly opened. Leaving warm champagne out overnight can lead to flatness. But a newly opened bottle that briefly warmed up can recover from some chilling.

To re-cool and preserve carbonation:

  • Seal bottle with stopper or cork.
  • Place upright in refrigerator.
  • Chill for at least 1 hour before re-opening.

The key is minimizing time at warm temperatures and preventing further oxygen exposure through proper sealing. Refrigeration can help compensate for short-term heat spikes. But the quicker it’s done, the better chance of retaining those refreshing bubbles.

Can You Freeze Champagne?

Technically, freezing champagne is possible but not ideal for the quality. Here’s what happens:

  • Freezing stuns fermentation, stopping yeast activity.
  • Thawing releases extra CO2, causing bubbles to overflow.
  • Texture and flavor becomes fizzy and diluted.

While freezing won’t make champagne toxic or unsafe, it can make the carbonation explode out on opening. The wine ends up overly foamy and tastes different than before freezing.

Storing champagne below the intended 45°F cellar temperature is not recommended. Refrigerating around 50°F helps strike the right balance of coolness without freezing.

How to Cool Champagne Quickly

Rather than freezing, use these quick chilling methods to get champagne ready to serve:

Ice Bucket

Fill bucket halfway with ice, then add cold water. Submerge champagne bottle for 20-30 minutes. Add more ice as needed.

Ice Bath

Create an ice bath in a large bowl. Add 3 parts ice to 1 part water. Immerse bottle for about 15 minutes.

Wet Towel

Wrap bottle in a towel soaked with cold water and place it in the freezer for 8-10 minutes.

Quick Chiller

Special rapid beverage chillers can cool a bottle in 3-5 minutes. Simply insert the unit and spin.

Pro tip: Chill glasses beforehand by filling with ice water. This helps prevent warming when poured. Serve champagne around 45°F for optimal taste.

How to Store Champagne Properly

Maintaining ideal storage conditions helps prevent heat damage. Here are some champagne cellar tips:

  • Constant cool temps between 45°F – 55°F.
  • Humidity around 60% – 80% to keep corks moist.
  • Store bottles horizontally on their sides to prevent drying.
  • Avoid direct light and vibrations.
  • Use a wine refrigerator if no cellar available.

Proper storage keeps the cork hydrated, carbonation intact, and slows down aging. For short-term storage under 3 months, the refrigerator works fine. Just avoid repeatedly opening the door which causes temperature fluctuations.

Long-Term Aging

To age premium champagne for over a decade, ideal cellar conditions are a must. Maintain 55°F and 60% humidity. Store away from light and vibration. Periodically riddle and rotate bottles. Use inventory software to track disgorgement dates.

Serving Warm Champagne

While it’s always best to chill champagne before serving, slightly warm bubbly isn’t necessarily undrinkable. Here are serving tips if vodka unexpectedly gets too warm:

  • Add ice cubes to the glass to dilute and rechill.
  • Use chilled fruit like frozen grapes as an ice substitute.
  • Create a spritzer by adding chilled seltzer water.
  • Pair with fresh citrus like lemons and limes.
  • Mix with juice or purees like peach or mango.

Dilution and shaken fruits help compensate for flatness and high alcohol burn from the warmth. Blending it into a cocktail also helps mask flaws. While not ideal, these tricks can salvage drinkability.

The Takeaway on Warm Champagne

To summarize key points on how temperature impacts champagne:

  • Proper storage is 45°F – 55°F to preserve quality and carbonation.
  • Brief warmth up to 70°F probably won’t ruin champagne if cooled again fast.
  • Avoid prolonged heat above 65°F to prevent premature aging.
  • Refrigeration can re-chill warm champagne if consumed shortly after.
  • Freezing champagne causes issues and is not recommended.
  • Look for visual and aroma cues like browning or off-flavors as signs of heat damage.

With proper temperature control both during storage and serving, champagne can maintain quality and effervescence for many years. But letting bottles get too warm for too long can speed up deterioration, leading to a flat, oxidized beverage. Keep your bubbly cool and consume shortly after opening for maximum enjoyment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it bad to let champagne get warm?

It’s not ideal, but brief warmth won’t instantly ruin champagne. However, prolonged heat above 65°F can cause faster aging, bubble loss, and off-flavors. The key is minimizing the time spent warm.

Can warm champagne make you sick?

No, warm champagne does not pose health or contamination risks. However, hot summer temperatures can cause pressure build up. Opening bottles cautiously helps prevent gushing.

How long can open champagne be left unrefrigerated?

An opened bottle should not be left unrefrigerated more than a couple hours. Seal it with a stopper and refrigerate within 2 hours to retain carbonation and prevent oxidation.

Does putting champagne in the fridge ruin it?

Refrigeration around 45°F – 50°F is ideal for ready-to-serve champagne. Fridge storage doesn’t ruin it, but it can hasten aging over months. For long-term aging, cellar temperatures around 55°F are best.

Can old champagne make you sick?

No, drinking very old champagne does not cause illness. However, oxidation makes it taste stale, flat, and generally unpalatable. Older champagne may also trigger wine intolerances more easily due to higher sulfite levels.

The Impact of Warmth on Champagne: A Summary

Storage Temperature Result
45°F – 55°F (ideal cellar temp) Preserves quality. Retains bubbles and fresh flavor.
55°F – 65°F Acceptable short-term. May age faster if prolonged.
65°F – 75°F Loses bubbles and oxidizes faster. Significant aging effects.
75°F+ (room temp) Rapid deterioration. Quickly goes flat and stale.

Leave a Comment