Uncorking a bottle of champagne that’s been at the back of your cellar for two decades can sure feel like a celebration. But is it still fizzy? Is 20-year-old Champagne still drinkable?
Champagne can age well. It can taste better with time. Provided that it’s been kept in good storage conditions for such a long time, you can still drink it and enjoy its effervescence and nuances.
However, how long champagne will last isn’t always easy to tell. The quality of the wine and label are key considerations in how long you can keep it in storage after purchase. Below, we will show you how to properly store your bottles and how to tell when champagne has gone bad.
How Do I Know if My Champagne Is Still Good?
When did you purchase it? Check the label. All these are crucial in determining when it is best to consume your champagne. However, there is no sure way of knowing if it has gone bad unless you open the bottle.
Here are a few telltale signs of bad campagne:
Sour Taste and Smell
Champagne has a signature fresh fruit flavors and a bright aroma. So when it tastes sour, you know it’s gone bad. This is usually an indication of spoiled champagne, which has nothing to do with aging beyond its years but improper storage.
The longer the champagne stays on the shelves, the more golden or deeper their colors become. When this happens, it’s a clear sign that your wine has lost its spark. Good champagne has a beautiful pale golden color. If you see a darker yellow color in your flute, time to toss that bottle away.
No Popping Sound When Opened
What even is champagne without the familiar popping sound? That soft hiss is a good sign of quality champagne. If your bubbly doesn’t make that sound when you open the bottle or pour it into your glass, it may be because it has reached its lifespan.
Good champagne is clear and bright as a day, and sediment and cloudiness aren’t typical. But when the cork of your champagne looks dry and moldy after you open the bottle, it could lead to clumps and cloudy sediment in the bottle. It’s a contamination or fermentation issue that you can do nothing about so throw it away.
How To Store Champagne
The best place to store an unopened champagne bottle is in a dark, cool area with a consistent temperature of around 53-57°F and relative humidity of between 70-85%. If you want to take guesswork out of properly storing your champagne, there are dedicated wine fridges in the market or you can just invest in a wine cellar.
One of the biggest threats to champagne is oxidation. So storing it away from direct sunlight or any artificial light will help the wine to preserve its quality as if it were still in the chalky cellars of the Champagne region. Precious sparkling wine requires a vibration-free environment to retain its delicate chemistry and aromas.
When it comes to positioning the wine, it is fine to just set the bottle upright. However, if you want to store it long-term, lay the bottle on its side. In the same way as you store an unopened bottle, in a cool dark place with constant humidity and temperature.
Storing an opened bottle of champagne can be a bit tricky, though. The risk of losing its carbonation, flavors, and all the good stuff is there.
There’s a misconception that leaving an open bottle for a couple of hours can turn it flat. But that’s not true. You have 24 hours to go back to enjoying the opened bottle of champagne and it will still smell and taste good. If you leave it chilled in the fridge, it can still be fizzy though it’s unpredictable how long the bubbles will stay.
It’s a good idea to invest in a bottle stopper or a preservation recorker to keep as much carbonation in the bottle as possible. Or, you can also do the silver spoon trick, where you can place a small metal spoon in the back of the bottle and put it in an upright position in your fridge.
A Word About Champagne Expiration Dates
Champagne doesn’t have specific best-before or best-consumed dates so it can be hard to tell how long a champagne will last. The most important thing to consider is the label on the bottle.
Vintage champagne is aged between 10 to 20 years or more and can be consumed years and even decades after purchase while a non-vintage bottle has a shorter life span. So if you plan on storing champagne for a while, determine the vintage year.
Vintage champagnes or prestige cuvées (tête de cuvée) are the finest wines that a Champagne House produces, notably Dom Pérignon. They get better with age than non-vintage champagnes.
The flavors of vintage champagne develop each year. It softens and rounds out more, which makes the champagne more delectable.
Vintage champagnes are made from grapes that are grown in a single exceptional year. They are aged way longer than non-vintage champagne. Champagne Houses produce them in limited quantities, usually three to four times per decade, and makeup only less than 5% of all champagne production.
The exceptionality of these wines, however, also makes them expensive. But they have better and longer ageability. A vintage bottle can last up to 10 years, even decades if stored properly. They will still be fresh and fizzy.
Besides the longer shelf life, the flavor profiles of vintage wines make them well worth the price.
Can Old Champagne Make You Sick?
We’re talking about spoiled, old bottle of champagne. In general, consuming old champagne won’t make you sick. Take a few sips and you’ll be okay. However, it may cause nausea and vomiting and can upset your stomach so drink at your own risk.
After all, drinking an old-fashioned champagne won’t have the effervescence, flavor, and aromas that the cellar master initially intended. It may taste flat and not as fresh as when you bought it.
If you don’t want champagne to go to waste, you can use it as a cleaning agent for your pans. The alcohol content of the wine will lift debris. You can even make ice cubes with it and add them to your cocktails. Or, you can just let it ferment for a few weeks to make champagne vinegar.
How Long Does Opened and Refrigerated Champagne Last?
Depending on the label of the wine, champagne is meant for immediate consumption, on the same day as its purchase date. But most people can enjoy an opened champagne within the 24-hour period and it will still taste and smell good.
If you can’t finish the whole bottle right away, make sure to store it in a cool and dry place. You can let it sit there for at least three days. However, you can expect the wine to lose some of its freshness.
Is It OK To Drink 30-Year-Old Champagne?
Provided that it’s been stored well and the quality of champagne, you could still drink it after 30 years. Vintage cuvées usually age between 10 years or even decades. With each year that passes by, a vintage wine will reveal its characteristics.
But you can open a vintage bottle 7 to 10 years after purchase. You can even open later than that. But then again, the flavor profile of the champagne will change each year. Sometimes they’ll have less carbonation which lends a flatter taste. You might want to pop it as soon as you buy it.
Is 20-Year-Old Dom Pérignon Still Good?
Yes, a 20-year-old Dom Pérignon is still good, even decades beyond its vintage date. If you prefer to consume and enjoy Dom Pérignon right away, you can do so since it’s already been aged in the cellars after disgorging.
Keep in mind that vintage wines demand the right temperature and location. Most people have the extra cash to shell out on an expensive vintage wine but have no idea how to store an unopened bottle.
To retain its quality, you should keep it in a dark storage location with a consistent average temperature of between 45-65 °F.
Conclusion: Can You Drink 20-Year-Old Champagne?
Yes, but keep in mind that most non-vintage champagne is meant for immediate consumption. So, the debate on whether a 20-year-old wine is drinkable or not depends on the quality of champagne. Some champagne, especially prestige or vintage cuvées will peak their potential for decades.
So, before you ask such a question, you must first identify the label of the bottle. And why not uncork it and see how it tastes and smells?
We hope you’ve found this post helpful. If you have more questions, let us know and we’d love to help. Cheers!