Champagne has to be one of the classiest gifts you can give. And it’s not so bad being on the receiving end of a bottle either. There’s little better than the sound of a popping champagne cork, and the fizz of those bubbles as they splash into the glass. But if you don’t have plans to devour the bottle right away, you may be wondering, how long does champagne last?
You may be forgiven for thinking that champagne is rather like a fine wine, many of which are good to stay in the bottle for a fair few years, or even decades. But the fact is that champagne tends to have a shorter lifespan than fine wine. This is why it’s important to know the answer to the question, how long can you keep champagne, because the last thing you want is to let your lovely bottle go to waste.
How long does champagne last opened?
Once you’ve opened your bottle of champagne, it has a shelf life of about three to five days, even when you stash it in the fridge with a champagne stopper securely clamped in it, which is the best advice for keeping the fizz in for as long as possible.
After that, come what may, it’s going to go flat, and the flavours and aromas will have faded. And the old spoon in the bottle trick? It doesn’t work. Sorry.
How long does unopened champagne last?
The key question to start with is whether your champagne is vintage or non-vintage. This can directly affect how long you’ll get away with storing it unopened.
Vintage champagne is made from grapes from a single year, whilst non-vintage champagne uses grapes harvested over a number of different years. Non-vintage champagne is aged in the bottle for 18 months, whilst vintages are bottle aged for three years.
Generally, vintage champagne is considered higher quality than non-vintage. If you’re not sure what you’ve got, check the label to see if it displays a year. If it does, that’s the year the grapes used to make it were grown and harvested. If there’s no date, it’s likely to be non-vintage.
On the whole, vintage champagnes will have a longer shelf life than non-vintage. For vintage, you’re looking at around five to ten years. And for non-vintage, it’s going to be around three to four years.
You may come across some vintages though that are designed to be bottle aged over a few years before being opened. These are the ones that will last that bit longer than our quoted times. It’s unlikely you’ll find any advice on ageing on the bottle though, so it’s worth checking with your merchant if you’re specifically looking for a bottle of champagne that will stand the test of time.
Does champagne improve with age?
When thinking about how long does champagne last, it’s interesting to know that there are some exceptional vintage champagnes that will improve with age. The general consensus is that non-vintage bottles won’t, although there have been exceptions to the rule.
Vintages tend to age better because they are made with ageing in mind. Because the grapes come from a single year’s harvest, the winemaker has better control and is able to produce a champagne with the ability to develop appealing characteristics over time.
There are various champagnes with vintages produced specifically to age beautifully. Some are even reckoned to actually need storing for a few years before they reach their peak. At this point, they’ll usually have lost some of their fizz, but in place of the lack of CO2 they’ll develop fruity, toasty or nutty flavours, as well as a deeper colour. So you never know, if you choose the right vintage, you may end up with something that’s so delicious, it was well worth the wait.
Another interesting factor is the bottle. Standard champagne bottles are good for storing vintages, but it’s said that magnums are better for releasing the very best flavours. It’s all to do with the larger surface area of the magnum, which allows more contact between the yeast on the inside of the bottle and the wine itself, creating more fizz.
How to tell if champagne is off?
In all honesty, it can be tricky to tell whether your unopened bottle of champagne is good to drink, or is destined for the sink. A damaged or mouldy cork might give you a clue, but if the champagne has been stored properly, it’s not something you’ll see too often.
Once you’ve opened the bottle though, the tell-tale signs will be all too obvious, ranging from a damp ‘off’ odour, to a lack of fizz, and a sour, flat flavour. So, be sure to know in your mind how long does unopened champagne last if you want to avoid the devastating scenario of pouring your bottle down the drain rather than into your eagerly awaiting champagne flutes.
How to store unopened champagne?
If you want to extend the lifespan of your champagne, it’s vital to store it correctly.
Whatever you do, don’t store it in the fridge. Chilling is recommended only 30-45 minutes before you’re due to drink it, so be sure to keep your bottle in a cool, dark place until you’re ready to indulge. The recommended temperature range is 7-10 degrees Celsius.
Maintaining a constant temperature is recommended too. So avoid the likes of kitchens or sheds that are prone to fluctuations and extremes of temperature.
Also, be sure to keep the bottle away from anything that will vibrate it, such as appliances. Utility rooms are generally no-go areas for champagne storage.
If you’re planning on drinking your champagne within around a month, you’re good to store it upright. Anything longer than that and you’re better storing the bottle on its side to prevent the cork from drying out.
Now you know the answer to the question, how long does champagne last, we hope you’ve got the intel you need to choose the ideal champagne gift.
The Oddbins range of champagne and sparkling wines is sure to have just what you’re after. Not sure? Our team is on hand to help you make the perfect choice. Contact us via Live Chat, e-mail or by calling 0800 328 23 23.