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How long does champagne last?
Champagne is one of the finest gifts you can give someone, which is why it's such a popular present for almost any special occasion. It's also the tipple of choice for saying 'cheers!' or 'congratulations!' at a whole variety of celebrations, whether it's an anniversary, a wedding, or someone's birthday.
However, there is one question that people often find themselves asking: how long does champagne last? You may be tempted to think it's similar to fine wine, which can last for many decades, but champagne usually has a shorter lifespan than that. Because of this, it's important to know when it's best to enjoy your champagne so it doesn't go bad. In addition, champagne can lose its best qualities fairly quickly after you open it, so you will need to store it correctly to preserve its taste and fizz.
We don't want to see your lovely champers go to waste, so we've put together this guide to help you work out how long it will last. We've also included some advice about how you should store it for longevity, as well as how you can tell when your bottle has gone off. Read on to find out more.
Is your champagne vintage or non-vintage?
The first question you need to ask yourself is whether your champagne is vintage or not, as this can affect how long you can store it unopened. The difference between the two lies in the harvest of grapes: vintage champagne is made with those from a single year, whereas non-vintage champagne uses those harvested over several years. Additionally, non-vintage champagne has to be bottle-aged for 18 months at the winery, while vintage champagne has to be aged for three years.
On the whole, vintage bottles are considered to be higher quality than non-vintage, which is why they make great gifts for extra special occasions. You can easily find out what type you have by checking the label to see if it has a year listed — if it does, this indicates the year that the grapes used in the making of the champagne were grown and picked. If there is no date listed, you've almost certainly got a non-vintage bottle.
In general, vintage champagnes will last longer than non-vintage when stored, and we'll look at precisely how long over the next few sections.
How long does unopened champagne last?
Champagne will last longer if it remains unopened. If you're planning on saving a nice bottle of bubbly for a special occasion, your best bet is to leave it as it is and make sure that you store it in the right way. Unopened champagne will last:
- Three to four years if it is non-vintage;
- Five to ten years if it is a vintage.
Note: As we've mentioned, some vintages are designed to be aged in the bottle for years before being opened, so they may last much longer than the times stated above. Vintage champagnes tend not to have any advice on their labels about how many years they can be aged for, so it's best to check with the merchant you are buying from beforehand. If you're looking for a vintage champagne gift that ages well, get in touch and we will be happy to help you find one.
How to store unopened champagne
It's important to store your unopened champagne in the correct way to prolong its lifespan. Your bottle of bubbly is a living beverage that can lose quality if it is exposed to the wrong conditions for too long. Here are our five rules for storing your unopened champagne:
- Store it in a cool dark place at around 7°C–10°C, away from natural or artificial light.
- Avoid locations that experience fluctuations in temperature (e.g. kitchen, garage, shed).
- Store away from appliances or anything else that will vibrate the bottle.
- Bottles you plan to consume within a month can be stood upright.
- Champagne that you plan to keep for a while should be stored on its side to prevent the cork from drying out.
How long does opened champagne last?
If stored correctly, both vintage and non-vintage bubbly can be enjoyed for three to five days after you've popped the cork. This can be handy to know if you ever crack open a bottle when you're hosting a party but don't finish it.
How to store opened champagne
You should aim to keep opened champagne nice and chilled and prevent the fizz from going flat. Here's how to store it:
- Once you've opened the bottle, the aim should be to get the cork or a stopper back in the bottle as soon as you can. So, if you know that there will be some left after filling your family and friends' glasses, be sure to replace the lid before making the toast.
- Keep the bottle in the fridge to ensure it is nice and chilled for the next time you drink it. If you don't have any space, a cool, dark place can do the job too. Stand the bottle upright to avoid any of the champagne leaking out.
- Don't be tempted to put your champagne in the freezer for storage, as you will freeze away all of the lovely fizz. Feel free to put the bottle in there for some speedy chilling, but remember to take it out after a few minutes.
Take a look at our wine accessories range, which has everything you need to serve and preserve your champagne, including ice buckets, stoppers, and corkscrews.
How to tell if your champagne is off
Unfortunately, there isn't a sure-fire way of telling whether your champagne has gone bad without opening the bottle and tasting it. You might be able to spot something, such as mould or a damaged cork, that tells you something is wrong, but these occurrences should be rare if you've stored it correctly.
Once you've opened the bottle, however, there are some clues that your champagne has gone off, which include:
- A strange 'off' odour
- A sour and flat taste
- An absence of bubbles
Champagne that has spoiled isn't harmful to drink, but most people prefer to discard it in favour of a new bottle due to the unpleasant taste and odour.
Does champagne get better with age?
Vintage champagne can get better with age. It's generally thought that non-vintage bottles don't, though this is subjective and some believe they can. Vintages tend to age better because winemakers can grow a harvest of grapes in a single year with quality ageing in mind, which is more difficult to do with those from multi-year harvests. Using these grapes in the winemaking process, they can create a specialised champagne that develops desired characteristics during storage
Many of the best champagne labels, such as Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, and Dom Perignon have vintages that are specifically made to age nicely. Some of their vintages aren't even considered to be at their peak until they have been stored for a few years, when they'll lose some of their carbonation, but gain nutty, fruity, and toasted flavours, as well as a deeper colour. Because of this, it's only vintage champagnes that you should consider ageing after purchase. With a quality vintage, you might end up with something even more delicious after you've waited those extra years.
It's also worth considering what size of bottle is best for ageing. Though experts agree that standard champagne bottles are still very good for storing a vintage, magnum bottles are regarded as the best size for unlocking the best flavour possible. It's said that the greater glass surface area of a magnum allows more contact between the yeast on the inside of the bottle and the wine itself, creating more fizz. In short, you may find it better to invest in a bigger size if you plan on letting your champagne age for a few years.
We hope we've answered some of the most important questions you might have about how long you can keep champagne and how best to store it. We hope you've found the advice you need to buy the perfect champagne gift.
Here at Gifts International, we want you to feel confident when ordering with us, so if you have any questions about the information in this guide or anything else, don't hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to help. We also stock champagne hampers, champagne flute sets, and personalised champagne if you're looking to make your present extra special.
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