Can An Unopened Bottle Of Champagne Spoil?

We all have that one Champagne bottle that has been sitting on the shelf waiting to be uncorked for the perfect moment of celebration. And it's been waiting for years. As you count the days remaining until your next birthday, anniversary, or promotion, it's only natural to ask: Does Champagne get better with age, or is there an expiration date on this festive, effervescent liquid?

Sadly, unlike other wines, sparkling wines do have a shelf life, explains Advanced Mixology, but there are a few necessary details needed to understand how long, exactly, an unopened bottle of Champagne is good for. 

First, check to see whether the bottle is a vintage or non-vintage blend. Advanced Mixology offers the helpful tip of looking for a year printed on the bottle's label; this typically indicates a vintage variety. Vintage champagnes are made from grapes harvested in a single year — a year that is noted for being particularly healthy — so these bubbles are ranked at the top of the Champagne hierarchy and can last a few years longer than non-vintage blends.

Timing matters

When properly stored, vintage Champagnes can sit on shelves for close to a decade, as they age better than less-distinguished bottles, notes Advanced Mixology. Non-vintage blends are made from grapes that have been harvested over several years and are often created by winemakers aiming for a specific taste (bonus: non-vintage Champagnes are usually more affordable). These non-vintage Champagnes can be stored on shelves for three to four years, advises Gifts International, but it's important the bottle is placed in a cool, dark location away from light and protected from extreme temperature changes. Another pro tip is to store bottles horizontally so the corks don't dry out as they wait for their big moment.

"Champagne is a living being; it evolves over time," explains Moët & Chandon. So the longer a bottle is kept, the more likely the taste, color, and texture of the bubbly will change from what was originally intended by the drink's producers. So, depending on how long that bottle has been waiting for you to open it, tonight might be the perfect night to celebrate.