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Can Champagne Go Bad?

We received a bottle of Dom last Christmas from a client. We haven't opened it yet, we wanted to save it for a special occassion. We had a "friend" over recently who is a bit of a lush and as he was working his way through my liquor cabinet he came upon it. Through his drunken stupor, he tried to convince me that champagne is not like wine, and will go bad if we did not drink it soon. I said no and now I'm wondering, is he right or was this just a ploy to have me open it?

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  1. Champagne ages but can go bad just like another bottle of wine can. Vintage champagnes from good houses definite can get better with some age. It depends upon the vintage and your taste in wine. I like yeastier, older sparkling wines but my wife cannot stand them. She prefers them closer to release. Either way if you received it last Chritmas, it still is perfectly fine unless it just happened to be a bad bottle in the first place.

    1. Champagne is a wine and can go bad in the same ways a wine can go bad. But there's nothing special about champagne that would cause it to spoil sooner.

      The Dom won't go bad provided it's stored properly. That said, your liquor cabinet, if it's like most liquor cabinets, may not have the best storage conditions to keep it. Try for somewhere dark and cool.

      1. >>> he tried to convince me that champagne is not like wine . . . <<<

        Champagne IS wine, and like ALL wines, will go bad eventually. However, that doesn't mean that -- as with all wines -- it won't develop with age. How much age depends upon the vintage, and whether you prefer this (or any wine) with some additional bottle age on it depends upon your taste.

        But I've had Dom at 30-35 years of age and it's been quite lovely, though nothing like opening up a bottle that's right off the shelf, or 1-5 years old. I suspect you won't be keeping it *that* long, and any time you drink it -- this New Year's Eve, or anytime over the next several New Year's Eves -- I wouldn't worry too much.

        4 Replies
        1. re: zin1953

          Zin,
          When you say, "though nothing like opening up a bottle that's right off the shelf" can you explain a little further. I have a few bottles of 1988 and 1990 vintage Champagne that I have yet to open. I didn't intend on storing them for so long but I find myself opening other wines in my collection, and for some reason just haven't opened the Champagne. So it will be a first for me to drink Champagne with with a fair amount of age. I am wondering what to expect.

          1. re: Scott M

            Have you ever had an older White Burgundy? Or perhaps a [really good] California Chardonnay, one that actually improved with age? Well, this is the same thing, only different . . . I know. not much help.

            All Champagnes age in the bottle, just as table wines do. Some will improve with that age; others . . . not so much -- just as table wines do.

            As Champagne ages, it will lose some of its freshness, its bright fruit and acidity. But it will gain in body, richness, layering, and complexity. The bubbles will become softer, more gentle. (Think of a Coke that's been sitting in the glass for a while; even if you don't see loads of bubbles in the glass, taste it and there will still be some, but they'll be less lively, more delicate.) The bouquet will take on a nutty quality, similar to toasted hazelnuts.

            Champagnes that are bigger, fuller in body in their youth -- generally (but there are lots of specific exceptions) -- will age well. I'm thinking of wines like Bollinger or Krug. Lighter, more elegant wines -- generally (but there are lots of specific exceptions) -- will not. I'm thinking Perrier-Jouet.

            Drier wines -- generally (but there are lots of specific exceptions) -- will age better that wines with a higher degree of residual sugar, within their respective catalogies. I'm thinking Moet & Chandon, versus Veuve Clicquot.

            Non-malolactic wines -- generally (but there are lots of specific exceptions) -- will age quite well. I'm thinking of Salon, for example.

            Does this help?

            Jason.

            1. re: zin1953

              Yes, thanks. I figured on the bubbles getting softer. Thanks for the comparison to older White Burgundy. Not sure I have had a California Chardonnay that improved with age. ;-)

              1. re: Scott M

                They can. A lot, actually. But those that do are often frightfully expensive.

                The best CA Chardonnay I ever had was a 1992 Marcassin Upper Barn Gauer Ranch Vineyard that I had last year.

        2. Champagne IS wine! Eventually, it will go bad. But, if stored properly, not for a really long time, although it will change and develop. Champagnes age quite well and get (to me) more interesting with a little bottle age. Right now, my favorite Champagnes are the top cuvees from the 80's and 1990.

          Unless you are storing your Dom at 70f+ or you got an older bottle (older than 1985) your friend either (1) had no idea what he was talking about or (2) just wanted you to open it.

          Scott,

          As Champagne ages I find it gets a little less bright and fruity and tends to develop more nutty and Sherry characeristics. Overally, I would say it gets more complex, too. 1988 was a very good to awesome year depending upon the producer, and 1990 was insanely amazing almost across the board. IMO, those are great vintages to be drinking right now as many/most of the wines still have A LOT of fruit yet they are also old enough to have developed those secondary characteristics.

          3 Replies
          1. re: whiner

            Good to hear, I really need to start opening some of the Champagne. I have a couple of bottles of Veuve Clicquot La Grand Dame 1990, and Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill 1988. As well as one bottle of 1990 Krug.

            1. re: Scott M

              Scott,

              Those are all AMAZING wines. I've had the '90 Krug once and the '90 La Grande Dame twice -- just amazing wine experiences, all of them. (As great as the'90 Krug is, I think the '90 La Grande Dame may be the finest wine VC has ever produced, and I might actually give it the nod, though I know some people would think me insane fo saying so.) The '88 Wiston Churchill should be outrageous as well! Lucky man!

            2. re: whiner

              When I dined at a few Champagne houses about five years ago (yes, I was a lucky girl) I noticed that many of the Champagnes from the 70s and 80s had this striking heft and weight in the flavor -- dark honey, fig, those nutty and Sherry-like flavors whiner describes, as well as some grounding flavor akin to orange pekoe tea. There, these wines were paired with roasted fowl and veal roast -- something I never would have thought of then -- and of course, the wines paired not just well, but brilliantly.

            3. Thanks everyone for the input, the bottle is from 2000, so I think maybe we will drink it for New Year's Eve this year. With some chocolate covered strawberries...how romantic!

              1 Reply
              1. re: gourmet guru

                Ummmmm . . . do you mean this bottle was purchased in the year 2000, or that it is from the 2000 vintage?