There’s a half-full bottle of Champagne in your fridge that somehow survived Saturday’s girl’s night. You could go for a nice little Champagne cocktail (a French 75, perhaps), but you aren’t sure if too much time has passed, and what’s left of the bottle is better off being poured down the drain. Does Champagne go bad? We took a deep dive into the wine world and got the full scoop on the subject. Here’s what you need to know about that bottle of bubbly before you start swirling and sipping.
Does Champagne Go Bad? Here’s How to Know if That Half-Full Bottle Is Good to Drink
Does Champagne go bad?
Yes and no. Like all wine, an unopened bottle of Champagne can suffer oxidation when improperly stored for a long period of time—and an oxidized bottle of wine tastes caramel-sweet, nutty and, well, nothing like it should. Improper storage can also cause Champagne to become maderized (i.e., ‘cooked’)—losing its complex character and potentially its effervescence, too. As such, if you have an age-worthy bottle of Champagne on your hands, it’s best to store the bottle on its side in a cool, dark and temperature-controlled spot, like a cellar or wine fridge. When kept under the aforementioned conditions, vintage and non-vintage Champagnes can stay good for five to ten and three to four years, respectively. Open bottles of Champagne are a different story, but more on that later.
How can you tell if Champagne has gone bad?
As previously mentioned, a bad bottle of Champagne can taste off in any number of ways. If the bottle is corked, it might have a musty or moldy smell and taste. Champagne that is oxidized may have an uncharacteristically sweet aroma of cooked sugar, and maderized Champagne will simply fall flat (regardless of whether or not bubbles are still present). Again, such disappointing outcomes can be easily avoided if you store your unopened wine the right way. Although it’s worth noting that a ‘corked’ bottle of bubbly is simply bad luck—an issue related to the winemaking process, not anything that went down on the consumer side of things.
How long can you keep an opened bottle of Champagne?
So you recently opened up some bubbly and now you’re wondering whether or not the remainder of the bottle will still be enjoyable. First, congratulations on your restraint—allowing an unfinished bottle of Champagne to languish in the fridge is a sign of remarkable self-control. That said, the answer to the question at hand depends on two key factors: how much time has elapsed since you first popped the cork and how the opened bottle was stored. In most cases, we’re of the mind that moderation is best. However, Champagne—both vintage and non-vintage—is really intended to be enjoyed the same day it’s opened. Indeed, the effervescence and subtle character of a high-quality bottle of bubbly will start to fade rather quickly.
Still, those of us who weren’t blessed with the discerning palate of a sommelier will likely find that yesterday’s bubbly goes down just as easily the next day. In fact, an opened bottle of Champagne can survive up to five days before the quality deteriorates to the point that it’s no longer worthy of your whistle. The most important thing to know, aside from the five day cut-off, is that an opened bottle of bubbly should be promptly resealed with a special Champagne sealer and stored in the fridge in order to keep it nice and sparkly. It’s also worth noting that the more you pop that seal, the less bubbly your Champagne will be—so if you can’t polish off the bottle in one sitting, it’s best to aim for two.
Is it safe to drink an old bottle of Champagne?
An old bottle of Champagne—be it opened or unopened—will not harm you in any way. The worst outcome is that the bubbly you were so looking forward to sipping will wind up offending your tastebuds. (Blessedly, not your digestive system.) That said, there’s really no sense in choking down flat or off-tasting Champagne. In other words, if you missed the boat, you’re better off using it to deglaze a pan or, you know, just pouring it down the drain.