Written by: Tim Edison

Updated: August 6, 2023

Does Unopened Champagne Go Bad? [Champagne Lifespans]

Champagne can get really expensive and it's heartbreaking to let it pass its best.

But, how long is Champagne good for? Does Champagne expire?

In this guide, I explain how long Champagne keeps for and how you can tell if it has gone bad.

How Long Does Champagne Last Unopened?

Unopened champagne can last for 3 to 4 years if it's non-vintage (N.V) and for over 10 years if it's vintage.

The shelf life of Champagne depends on two factors:

  • The Storage Conditions:  It's best to store champagne in a cool, dark place with a consistent temperature. A wine cellar or a dedicated wine fridge are ideal. Sunlight, heat (and extreme cold), and vibrations will all cause a wine to age prematurely. You must also store Champagne on its side to keep the cork moist.
  • The Quality of the Champagne: The biggest distinction with Champagne besides the amount of residual sugar is whether it's Vintage or Non-Vintage (N.V). Vintage Champagne tends to age better and last longer since it is made from the best grapes of a single outstanding year. They are produced by the best Champagne houses and the quality is very high.

Why Does Vintage Champagne Last Longer?

Vintage Champagne is considered the pinnacle of sparkling wine. It is only produced in exceptional years when the grape growing conditions are perfect.

A Non-Vintage Champagne on the other hand, is one that is made from a combination of grapes harvested over numerous years. Like a type of Champagne blend. 

Made from very high quality grapes from a single harvest, Vintage Champagne is meant to be aged by design.

The winemaking process allows tertiary flavors and aromas to develop as it ages in the bottle. These toasted, nutty type notes develop over a long time.

But, how do the winemakers do this?

Premier Champagne makers like Dom Perignon and Louis Roederer age their Vintage Champagnes for at least 3 years on their lees (the dead yeast and residual particles) before bottling.

Aging wine on its lees adds necessary structure that helps to stabilize a wine and enhances its aging potential. It also adds complexity and texture.

This process gives Vintage Champagne the ability to develop and evolve once bottled for years and years.

The best vintage Champagnes may last even longer than 10 years.

Note: Prestige Cuvée Champagnes also age well as they are made with the best grapes from the best local vineyards. The quality is therefore very good.

How Can You Tell if Your Champagne is Ready to Drink?

If you have a non-vintage Champagne then it's ready to drink straight away. Don't wait longer than 3 or 4 years but it may still be fine of it's a high quality N.V. Champagne.

If you have a bottle of Vintage Champagne then it too can be drank straight away. However, to drink it in its prime you may be best waiting.

But, how can you tell when its ready?

Thankfully, vintage charts exist for this purpose. 

A vintage chart describes the harvest quality for each year across each wine region and grape varietal.

Simply look up a Champagne vintage chart (Champagne is easy because there's only one region) for your year and look at the 'Drink Window'.

If it says 'NYR' (not yet ready) then you should hold it and check back next year. If it says 'Drink' then you know what to do!

Here's an example of a vintage chart for Champagne.

We have a guide on the best wine vintages that you may find useful too.

How to Tell the Difference Between Vintage and Non-Vintage

In order to find out whether you have a Vintage or Non-Vintage (and how much the person you received the bottle from loves you), all you have to do is to look at the front label and look for a year.

This is the year the grapes were harvested on.

All Vintage Champagnes will have this year clearly and proudly displayed on the label, while the Non-Vintage Champagnes will not.

A Non-Vintage Champagne will likley be labelled N.V.

For whiskey drinkers, the esteem of Vintage Champagnes is similar to age statement whiskies. Older, single malt whiskies will carry an age statement (and large price tag), while cheaper, younger blends do not.

Related: Prosecco versus Champagne, what are the differences? We explain all in our guide.

How Can You Tell if Champagne Has Gone Bad?

Telling if your champagne has gone bad can be a bit tricky, but there are a few tell-tale signs you can look out for:

  1. Change in Color: Champagne that has gone bad often darkens in color. It may turn a deep yellow or brownish color. This is due to oxidation, which occurs when the wine is exposed to air. Champagne will naturally darken in color over years so this is not always cause for concern. 
  2. Dislodged Cork - if the cork has dislodged slightly then it's very possible that your wine has spoiled. This was probably caused by the bottle getting too hot at some point. 
  3. Cork Seepage - if there's any residue on the neck or cork then it's likely your wine has been compromised. Again, this was probably caused by extreme heat.
  4. Lack of Bubbles: One of the key characteristics of champagne is its effervescence. If your champagne doesn't fizz when you open it or if the bubbles disappear quickly, then it is likely past its best. The lack of a 'pop' sound when opening means it has probably lost its fizz.
  5. Off Smell: If your champagne has a strong, pungent smell that's similar to vinegar, rotten eggs, or damp cardboard, it's likely gone bad. This could be due to a number of factors, including bacterial contamination or cork taint.
  6. Unpleasant Taste: If your champagne tastes flat, overly sour, or has lost its fruit flavors, it's probably gone bad. A good young champagne should taste fresh, crisp, and have a balance of fruit and acidity. An older Champagne will develop more complex nutty, toasted flavors and aromas.

Related: How do you store an opened bottle of Champagne properly?

Is it Ok to Drink Old Champagne?

Yes, it might not taste great if it's gone bad but it won't make you sick.

Trust your judgement.

If it smells unpleasant then it's going to taste similarly unpleasant.

Similarly, if the cork has obviously failed and the Champagne has lost it's bubbles then it's not going to be an enjoyable wine to drink.

The best thing to do with flat Champagne is freeze it as ice cubes which you can make cocktails with.

How to Store Unopened Champagne Properly

Proper storage of Champagne is essential if you're not planning on drinking it for a while and want to save it for a later date.

Not only will it ensure that it tastes great once you do decide to drink it, it will also extend its shelf life.

The best way to store Champagne is in a wine fridge or a wine cellar, but other places can be fine too as long as they meet the following criteria:

  • Dark (away from sunlight)
  • Consistent cool temperature (Ideally between 53 °F - 57 °F)
  • Stored on its side (to keep the cork moist)
  • Free from vibration (vibrations can start chemical reactions in the wine)
  • Away from strong odors (the cork can absorb these)
  • Avoid humid places (avoid damp places and keep the area well ventilated)

What's your rule when it comes to storing Champagne? We'd love to hear from you in the comments section!

Read More Posts Like This:

October 31, 2023

How Sweden is Reinventing the Wine Map [Swedish Wine]Sweden isn’t usually the answer on the .....

How Sweden is Reinventing the Wine Map [Swedish Wine]

August 6, 2023

How to Store Open Champagne [5 Rules to Save Champagne] Champagne doesn't really keep well .....

How to Store Open Champagne [5 Rules to Save Champagne]

August 4, 2023

How to Store Wine After Opening [7 Essential Rules]We've all been there. You really want .....

How to Store Wine After Opening [7 Essential Rules]

August 2, 2023

The 6 Tenets for Proper Wine Storage [How to Store Wine]There are many myths surrounding .....

The 6 Tenets for Proper Wine Storage [How to Store Wine]

July 26, 2023

How Long Does Opened Wine Last? [Red & White Explained]When it comes to drinking wine, .....

How Long Does Opened Wine Last? [Red & White Explained]

May 24, 2023

Perfect Wine Serving Temperatures [Every Wine Explained] Some people get very particular about the serving .....

Perfect Wine Serving Temperatures [Every Wine Explained]

May 18, 2023

There's a tremendous amount of variety when it comes to red wine. In this guide, .....

Exploring 35 Red Wine Types: Essential Guide For Wine Lovers

May 16, 2023

Winemaking is an intricate process that involves a variety of techniques and methods to produce .....

Sur Lie Aging in Winemaking Explained [Ultimate Guide]

About the Author Tim Edison

Tim started Wine Turtle way back in 2015.
These days he contributes to Wine Turtle (and other renowned wine publications) while continuing his wine education.
Tim's wine of the month is the Coates & Seely Reserve Brut NV (from Hampshire, England).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

  1. Perhaps this is a rarity, but we just opened a bottle of Mumm’s Cuvée Napa – Brut Prestige (no year on label, so I assume non-vintage) that had been standing upright in the back of the refrigerator for more than 17 years. (I remember when my mother bought it in 1998.) I opened it with trepidation, expecting to throw it out, but as soon as I heard the familiar pop, I was less worried. In fact, it was just like fresh champagne, full of bubbles, and absolutely delicious. The bottom of the cork did not expand when removed, but had a narrow diameter which seems strange. I have less faith in the old bottle of Korbel that has been lying around, (stored in the dark at room temp), but we’ll see. Thank you for the informative article.

  2. Just popped a bottle of Korbel. Maybe about 1 in a 100 seem to go sour not so long after purchasing it. Still is drinkable, but damn stick with the higher end champagnes mis amigos, drink less and savor each glass more. Korbel is a cheap party favor.

  3. Need some info; have bottle of CHRISTAL from 2005 so is it still good now or should I forget about the bubbles? I am looking forword to the answer? thank you

  4. Hi, I have 2 bottles of non vintage Moet that have been in the fridge since Christmas. Age wise they are ok but has keeping them in the fridge for so long damaged them. Thinking of taking them to a BBQ on the weekend. Thanks

  5. hi, I bought a bottle of veuve cilcquot brut 10 months ago, it has been in my bedroom stood upright this whole time. Am I ok to open this now or will it have gone bad???? Thanks!

  6. I have 4 bottles of Champagne that has been refrigerated at about 50 degrees on their side for a few years. I can no longer store them that way. Would it harm them if I still stored them on their sides but not refrigerated any more? Need an answer as soon as possible. Thanks.

  7. I have a bottle of unopened Moet Chandon given to me in 2005 it was kept in cool dark cupboard Will this be safe.to drink now

  8. I have a bottle of Perrier-joust brut from10 years ago! It has been sitting upright in dark cabinet! 1990 on label! Also Curvee Dom Perignon, vintage 1990, same storage! Should it be drinkable!? Thanks

  9. I have champagne,wine and liq since 1987.I stop drinking how can I sell all this stuff and at what price…
    Need help thc

  10. I have a bottle of 1988 DP that is 38-39 years old ; been in a cool cabinet . what should I expect on Jan. 12th 2022?

    1. Hi Shann,

      I appreciate the lovely comment, thanks!

      Unopened port lasts for ages. We’re talking years and maybe tens of years.

      As for wine, reds generally do better and more tannic reds age best of all. Wine lasts for years but it really depends on the type of wine as for how good it tastes when opened. What kind of wine is it?

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}