Help, I’ve got more Champagne than I can drink right now! How should I store it?

A real first world problem!  If, like most of us, you don’t happen to have a huge purpose built wine cellar under your house then what is the best way to store your cherished Champagne and keep it just right for when you decide to enjoy it?  Here are a few handy hints on how to store your Champagne – and you will see that there is still quite a debate going on about what’s best.

Find a cool dark and dry space.  A closet or a cupboard under the stairs would work.  It is best to avoid a room with windows if you can, as wines and especially Champagne can be damaged by exposure to bright light.   Champagne and other sparkling wines are very sensitive to light, which is why they’re typically in darker bottles to protect them from UV rays.  You should also avoid abrupt changes to temperature as well as vibrations.  That would rule out putting them near to a washing machine/dryer or in the kitchen.


Think about placing a thermometer next to your Champagne. The ideal temperature for Champagne storage is between 50 and 59 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 15 degrees Celsius). Place a thermometer on the wall, close to the bottles so that the climate in the storage area can be checked and adjusted regularly. 

What about keeping Champagne in the fridge?  Keeping a bottle in the fridge for a few days or even weeks will not affect the quality of your Champagne.  Keeping it refrigerated any longer than this is not really recommended.  The air in a refrigerator is too dry and the bottle will also be exposed to vibrations as well as the internal light at frequent intervals. 

That all said, scientists in America have argued in a recent report that keeping Champagne in a fridge at around 4 degrees Celsius is actually the best way to store it and prolong its life.  The scientists found that bubbly kept at lower temperatures was less likely to develop a “browning” compound called 5-HMF that turns wine bad.  Publishing their study in the American Chemical Society's Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, they said they found that refrigerating sparkling wines almost completely prevented them going bad after a series of tests.   


Somehow I cannot see all the millions of bottles in cellars throughout Champagne being replaced by massive refrigerators and also any Champagne left in a fridge does not tend to stay there that long!  The science might be right but I just cannot see it working.  Good project to work on though with all that Champagne to be tasted!

So you have stashed your Champagne away taking into account the hints and tips mentioned earlier, but how long should you actually store it for and how long will it last before it goes bad?  Due to strict ageing requirements, Champagnes are ready to drink as soon as they are released to the market.  Most non-vintage Champagnes will have been aged in cellars for two-three years with vintage Champagnes being aged for significantly longer – five years plus.  A rough guide would be that you can keep unopened non-vintage Champagnes for three - four years after purchase.  Cuvees and vintage Champagnes should be good for five - ten years, all as long as they have been stored correctly for that time.


Champagne, just like other wine, will change as it ages, especially beyond the five year point.  In general the fruity aromas of a younger wine will change and evolve into more of a dried fruit, honey, nutty and toasty flavour.  The colour may well change, taking on a deeper-golden colour.  The taste changes may well not be to everyone’s taste as some people specifically prefer fresher, younger Champagnes.  However the older Champagnes will develop greater subtleties of flavour and taste.

Lastly, if you do have quite a few bottles to store why not start up an inventory of what you have got? Lots of people with wine collections do this as it lets you keep track of how long you have certain bottles and which ones you should look to move to the fridge for drinking first.


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