Champagne is arguably one of the most loved drinks around. Even if not a lover oneself, most can appreciate ‘champers’ for what it is; a drink of celebration. Even champagne’s nickname “bubbly” gives some indication of what it is to be expected upon consumption.
How then can we tell if champagne ever goes bad? Most importantly- does it?
One way to provide an insight in regards to the expiration question is to look at the types of champagne that we consume.
Vintage VS Non-Vintage Champagne
Champagne- aka ‘sparkling wine’- can only be identified as champagne when it comes from the right region of the northeast of France. This is known as the champagne region.
Vintage champagne is made from the grapes of one year’s harvest whereas non-vintage is a blend of different years. This is why vintage is often more expensive and those experts among you can tell the difference from taste and smell alone.
Vintage champagne tends to be characterized by a fuller and deeper taste and texture (although there are differences amongst types) and must be made wholly from the year advertised. Vintages are therefore produced only 3- 4 times every 12 years and count for 5% of champagne available.
Here are some key facts regarding the differences:
- Vintage champagne is left to mature for at least 3 years. Non- vintage is only 15 months.
- Vintage is created from one year’s harvest whereas non-vintage is many, usually 3- 4.
- Vintage lasts longer (unopened!) with 5 or more years compared to non-vintage’s 3 or more.
You will know you are in possession of a vintage as the year will be displayed on the bottle and can include any of the top three vintage grapes- Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier.
Champagne Expiration Table
|Vintage||NO||up to 5 years|
|Vintage||YES||up to 4 days|
|Non-vintage||NO||up to 3 years|
There are other varieties of vintage champagne including pinot blanc, pinot gris, arcane and petit meslier. Blanc de noirs are ‘white from blacks’ produced exclusively from black grapes, such as Bollinger.
Blanc de blancs- ‘white from whites’- are champagnes made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes and Rose champagne is a sweet (and cheaper) version of sparkling wine. Prestige Cuvee are top quality champagnes.
Fun fact: wine has been produced in the French region since 496 A.D by monks!
Meditation and bubbly anyone?
Best way to store Champagne?
The way the bottle is stored can affect its lifespan. The best way to store champagne, therefore, is in a dark and cool place with some humidity, like a basement. This will allow the bottle to maintain its essential quality for many years compared to bottles left in sunlight, exposed to heat or not cared for properly. (The grapes grow for your consumption!)
There is, however, no best before date.
Shelf life of Champagne
Unopened champagne can last for over 3 years if a non-vintage and over 5 if a vintage. Opened champagne lasts only 3- 5 days if kept in the fridge before spoiling. Tip: do not freeze! It will drain away the bubbles (briefly before serving is ok).