Got a few bottles of champagne left unopened from the holidays? Now that you’re hunkering down at home, whether due of the coronavirus pandemic or simply your personal preference, it’s a good time to check how those bottles are faring right now.
Sparkling wine, in general, is meant to be drunk soon after you buy it. Of course, you can still save a bottle or two for special occasions that will happen several months or a year down the road.
For your champagne to always taste its best, you should know how to store it properly.
Champagne Storage Tips
There are three main rules for storing champagne for the long term:
- Keep it away from direct sunlight.
- Store it someplace cool (and the temperature must be consistent).
- Keep it sealed.
Light Kills Champagne
Like most wines, champagne is vulnerable to artificial and natural light exposure (also called light poisoning). The chemical reaction “kills” the champagne and gives it an unpleasant, onion-like smell. This is precisely why most champagne bottles are green or dark: the thick, coated glass block about 92% of UV light.
So what about champagne that comes in crystal-clear glass bottles? You’re probably referring to the Louis Roederer Cuvee de Prestige, which is the Cristal champagne. Its bottling style pays homage to the Champagne House’s old custom of sending Russia’s Tsar Alexander II Cristal in clear, crystal bottles. This prestigious brand is just as vulnerable to light as any other champagne, which is why you should drink your Cristal immediately. If you must store it, wrap it in foil and keep it in its box or pallet. Whether you received the champagne as a gift delivery or bought it from a store, the clear glass bottles should come with these types of packaging.
Heat Ruins Champagne
Champagne is sensitive to temperature – specifically, to fluctuations in temperature. The ideal range is 8-10 degrees Celcius or 47-50 degrees Fahrenheit. More than a cold environment, however, what champagne truly needs is consistency.
The best place to store champagne, therefore, is wherever’s cool andconsistent. Good examples would be a wine fridge, temperature-controlled pantry, or a closed cupboard with relatively cool and stable temperature all year.
Can you keep your champagne bottles in your fridge? It’s not the best place for long-term storage, to be honest:
- Refrigerators are frequently opened and shut.
- Their lighting is bright and piercing, and they turn on every time the fridge door opens.
- The entire appliance vibrates each time the compressor kicks in.
- The bottles can take up a lot of space, so you’ll likely keep moving them around to fit everything you need to put in your fridge.
As a result, champagne stored in refrigerators become exposed to fluctuating temperatures, light, and motion disturbances, all of which can affect its taste and fizziness.
Here are other locations that are not ideal for champagne storage:
- Anywhere near your stove, oven, or any heat-generating kitchen appliance
- Next to windows or thin walls that quickly heats up during summer or cools down during the autumn and winter.
- On exposed shelves that are often hit by sunlight
A Good Cork is a Must
Champagne has a high concentration of dissolved CO2(the gas responsible for its fizziness) at 10g per litre. Once a bottle is opened, the pressure is released along with the CO2 which escapes as gas bubbles. This is why champagne is meant to be all consumed once served: if you let it sit long, it will lose its trademark fizz.
It’s therefore important to keep the cork in a champagne bottle in excellent condition. You can do this by laying the bottles on horizontally and letting the champagne moisten the cork. If you store the bottles upright, the cork can dry out fast, shrink, and fail to seal the bottle properly.
A final tip: invest in metal corks so that you can re-stopper your champagne bottles if you don’t finish it and want to save the rest for a later date.
Keep these three storage rules in mind, and you can preserve the taste of your champagne for as long as two to three years.