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p
peridot79 Sep 10, 2012 01:02 PM

i have 2 bottles of 1990 vintage perrier jouet champagne in my fridge, on their sides... drinkable or flower vases-in-waiting?
i offer no explanations or excuses just need info please - thanks...

  1. RhonelyInsanediego Nov 26, 2012 12:54 PM

    Storing wine in the fridge is like putting it into suspended animation . . . It won't truly age, but it won't go bad either. My guess is that these sparklers taste almost exactly as they would have before going into the fridge.

    But this gives me an important reminder . . . I have a few bottles of 1988 and 1990 Dom P, as well as a couple 1990 Fluery Pere & Fils that have all been stored in my cellar at 57 F since I purchased many years ago (1990 anniversary wine). I am considering taking them out of the cellar and storing them in the "man" fridge in the garage, lest they start to decline any further before consumption (Anniversaries).

    What do you all think of this idea of refrigerating them? Is it time for suspended animation? Are they still getting better or only declining? Everything I read says their prime window is quickly coming to a close so I'm inclined to put them in the fridge. Any reasons to do this pro or con?

    11 Replies
    1. re: RhonelyInsanediego
      p
      peridot79 Nov 26, 2012 04:49 PM

      clearly, i'm no expert and can only go on my experience. these bottles were not in the fridge the entire time i owned them. for a while they were in a reasonably cool environment, but were likely exposed to higher than optimal temperature (have no idea for how long) and that's why i opted for the fridge.
      having enjoyed my share of champagne over the years i really feel these two bottles did change over time as they had soft overtones of a dessert wine and were so smooth and velvety, they were far different from anything i've ever had.
      so, if i were you i'd stop waiting to enjoy the lovely bottles you've been storing. life is short and uncertain. what are you waiting for? enjoy!

      1. re: RhonelyInsanediego
        Bill Hunt Nov 26, 2012 05:41 PM

        One of the "possible" issues with the 'fridge, is the vibration that is usually associated with them. However, I have grabbed a few sparklers, that spent more time in my wine 'fridge, than I intended, to find them flawless.

        Until just before consumption, I keep my sparklers, with my other wines, in the cellar at 55F.

        Hunt

        1. re: Bill Hunt
          RhonelyInsanediego Nov 28, 2012 07:42 AM

          I believe that constant or excessive vibration could be a factor, but the kind of mild and infrequent vibration from a fridge I don't believe is a real factor, especially one with a relatively low duty cycle.

          How many high end wine lockers are essentially electric fridges with a low duty cycle?

          I buy 1950's era stand-up frost free freezers (they cool evenly from top to bottom and have all metal compressors that will probably outlast me), and swap in a $200 high end thermostat. The duty cycle is ridiculously low and even when it does come on it's usually not for long and I can't notice any real internal vibration. This way I get a very nice wine locker that holds 12+ cases and usually costs me around only $300. Essentially the same type of thing would cost me 8 - 10 times as much to purchase at Cost-Co and won't last as long. I have a close friend who owns a well known and highly regarded vineyard and winery that does the exact same thing for some of his personal in home wine storage. We have been doing this for almost 30 years with no issues and lots of great wine.

          1. re: RhonelyInsanediego
            RhonelyInsanediego Nov 28, 2012 10:37 AM

            BTW I am able to keep my wine lockers at exactly 57 F +/- 0.2 degreees

            1. re: RhonelyInsanediego
              Bill Hunt Nov 28, 2012 08:57 PM

              When you say "wine lockers," what, exactly, are you talking about?

              I think of a large, refrigerated building, like 55 Degrees in Napa, with storage. There, the building is early 1900's, with major cooling, so no vibration, other than seismic activity.

              Hunt

              1. re: Bill Hunt
                RhonelyInsanediego Nov 29, 2012 07:29 AM

                I don't really know what to call them. Wine locker, wine cellar, wine fridge, wine freezer?

                Whatever, each works beautifully and maintain a very constant temp, and because they are frost free freezers, they cool evenly from top to bottom, are very well insulated, and thus have a very low duty cycle. I store about 150 bottles in each one.

                1. re: RhonelyInsanediego
                  Bill Hunt Nov 29, 2012 07:32 PM

                  Ah, I think that you might be talking about a piece of furniture, like a EuroCave unit.

                  Got you, and sorry for my confusion.

                  In most such units, the vibration from the cooling units are isolated pretty well, so should never be an issue.

                  Thank you for the clarification.

                  Hunt

                  1. re: Bill Hunt
                    RhonelyInsanediego Dec 5, 2012 03:20 PM

                    Great way to go for the person just looking to get into collecting or even for the more established collector as they are essentially modular and as your collection expands you can just add a new one relatively inexpensive. Penny Saver is usually where I find these old frost free freezers.

                    1. re: RhonelyInsanediego
                      r
                      RicRios Dec 5, 2012 04:57 PM

                      Just curious: how do you convince a freezer to stay at 55ºF ?

                      1. re: RicRios
                        JAB Dec 6, 2012 07:12 AM

                        By buying it a "$200 high end thermostat".

                        1. re: JAB
                          RhonelyInsanediego Dec 6, 2012 08:00 AM

                          Yes, I was lucky enough to be able to salvage a few really nice digital electronic temperature controllers from inside a couple devices my work had tossed out as junk. Grainger has controllers from $50 to $450, but you can get something with pretty good performance (+/- 1 degree accuracy) for around $100. If you want better accuracy than that (in the +/- 0.2 degree range), you are looking at controllers around $200 or more.

                          Once you have a few dozen bottles, the thermal mass of the liquid keeps temps from fluctuating very much and thus a very low duty cycle. One thing to consider is that if you are controlling to a greater degree of accuracy the duty cycle of the compressor will be more frequent, but with shorter durations as opposed to something less accurate which will come on less frequently, but for a little longer duration. Even at +/- 0.2 degrees my lockers probably come on for a couple minutes only about once an hour.

        2. p
          peridot79 Nov 26, 2012 11:50 AM

          UPDATE ON BOTTLE 2 --
          since bottle 1 had held up so well lo these 22 years, i decided to save bottle 2 for thanksgiving and am delighted to report it was as enjoyable (if not marginally more so) than bottle 1!

          so, it appears this was a very forgiving champagne (and, lord knows, i've a lot for which to be forgiven...) and i, for one, am quite thankful for that.

          -end of story : )

          4 Replies
          1. re: peridot79
            z
            zin1953 Nov 26, 2012 01:22 PM

            Congratulations! Glad it all turned out well . . .

            1. re: peridot79
              Bill Hunt Nov 26, 2012 05:25 PM

              That is great news!

              We often see posts, along the lines of "Is ____ still good?"

              Normally, the answer is, "depending on the storage conditions - maybe yes, but maybe no." There are so many variables. We normally say "drink, but have a backup handy."

              Sometimes there are marvelous surprises, when a white wine has managed to evolve into something really special, when none of us anticipated that, and then instances, where an age-worthy big red had died, and prematurely. One takes their chances - hence the rec. for a backup wine.

              Glad that your two bottles were still showing well, and glad that you enjoyed.

              Thank you for reporting.

              Hunt

              1. re: Bill Hunt
                j
                johndavis Jan 7, 2013 05:30 PM

                Has been under a kitchen cabinet in a dark cool and controlled temp

                1. re: johndavis
                  Bill Hunt Jan 7, 2013 08:28 PM

                  Dark is good.

                  Cool is good, but a constant temp, with little fluctuation, is even better. The rapid change in temp, is about the biggest enemy of wine/wine products. Only direct sunshine for long periods will be as damaging.

                  Good luck,

                  Hunt

            2. ellaystingray Sep 27, 2012 10:30 PM

              Thanks Maria.

              1. ellaystingray Sep 27, 2012 03:32 AM

                Glad to hear that bottle is showing well. From what I understand, the PJ Flower Bottle/Belle Epoque vintage to beware of right now is the maybe-not-otherwise-declared-rushed-out-for-the-millenium 1998.

                For whatever reason, I've "sensed" over the years that sparklers are more durable (not necessarily longer aging--of course all depends on style/producer/vintage etc--I mean better able to withstand some mistreatment) than still wines. But I have no facts to prove that. When I try to think critically about it, part of me says the opposite should be true.

                Does anyone have a take on this?

                3 Replies
                1. re: ellaystingray
                  maria lorraine Sep 27, 2012 04:36 AM

                  <sparklers are more durable ... than still wines>

                  This is accurate.

                  The wine: higher acidity than still wine; CO2 is a potent preservative. Keeps sparkling wine fresher than still wine.

                  The bottle: darker, thicker, stronger bottle than a still-wine bottle.. Bottle construction and deep punt means bottle is able to withstand 7-8 atmospheres pressure. Darker, thicker glass keeps light out.

                  The cork closure: bigger, thicker, tighter cork means that a poorly stored sparkler will have less damage or leakage than a poorly stored still wine.

                  I'm sure there's more information related to the durability of Champagne because of its wine chemistry; that the chemical compounds in Champagne make its flavors more durable, but that would require research. I've seen allusions to this, but no documents on this specifically yet.

                  1. re: maria lorraine
                    Bill Hunt Sep 27, 2012 08:54 PM

                    <<The bottle: darker, thicker, stronger bottle than a still-wine bottle.. Bottle construction and deep punt means bottle is able to withstand 7-8 atmospheres pressure. Darker, thicker glass keeps light out.>>

                    So glad to read that. Here, and elsewhere, I have offered my personal observations, and calculations, regarding the punt design, for higher psi wines, including many charts from my days designing unfired pressure vessels, and most just scoff. They cannot grasp the concepts of pressure distribution, and usually offer meaningless arguments. However, they are not engineers, so they can be excused.

                    Thank you,

                    Hunt

                    1. re: maria lorraine
                      Eugene Park Sep 27, 2012 09:54 PM

                      To add to the great analysis of Maria, I can attest from opening an '82 PJ Fleur de Champagne a couple weekends ago that the materials used to bottle older vintage champagnes were also far sturdier than what is offered nowadays. I and my friends who enjoyed the bottle with me were all amazed at how heavy the foil enclosure covering the cork was. The foil was thick and weighed over a 1/4 of a pound by itself.

                      And the '82 PJ FdC was scrumptious in an aged champagne way (i.e. almost Sauternes like but still with more than vestiges of the acidity, apple pear and brioche that I love in a quality champagne). While the provenance wasn't superb (had been stored in a basement in its original box, but not temperature controlled), it had held up remarkably well.

                  2. maria lorraine Sep 24, 2012 08:37 PM

                    I had a feeling these bottles were going to be OK. Old PJ holds up pretty well, even if mistreated a bit. Glad it all worked out.

                    1. p
                      peridot79 Sep 24, 2012 03:07 PM

                      --to clarify -- the bottle WAS opened by gently twisting it out (we're not barbarians) and the "pop" was not a launch-across-the-room variety, but rather a soft, mellow sound which was delightful to us in this instance in that it indicated that there were bubbles -- we had no idea what to expect and had a back up option as we had our doubts that it would be drinkable at all.
                      maybe our palates lost out a bit, but it couldn't have been much, we enjoyed the entire bottle, when i had more expected to end up pouring it down the sink...
                      we were happy - isn't that what matters?

                      1. p
                        peridot79 Sep 23, 2012 10:22 PM

                        UPDATE - UPDATE - UPDATE -- firstly, thanks to all who offered advice in reply to my post (this is fun!) - i just want to say that i did open "bottle 1" and (drum roll...) our ears were delighted by that lovely "pop" only a champagne cork can make (so far, so good...) into perfectly chilled glasses we poured 22 year-old, sumptuously amber, bubbly (yes! bubbly!) perrier jouet belle epoque -- we toasted to all the things we should have toasted with this before now and to our amazement, relief and joy, it was lovely!!!
                        considering the far less than optimal conditions that this bottle experienced i'm really surprised it was as good as it was. it had a bit of a musky, earthy quality to it (not in any way unpleasant), but definitely drinkable and quite enjoyable.
                        so, we didn't open "bottle 2", but will definitely be doing so in the foreseeable future and hope to report equally good results.
                        the moral of the story is that sometimes we luck out, but since life is so unpredictable, don't save the "good stuff" for last - have it now and enjoy!

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: peridot79
                          r
                          RicRios Sep 24, 2012 09:05 AM

                          >>>our ears were delighted by that lovely "pop" only a champagne cork can make<<<

                          Next time, please don't! Try prying out cork as quietly as you can:

                          The cork should not pop. As the saying goes, "The ear's gain is the palate's loss." You waste bubbles when you pop the cork. When properly executed it should come off with a quiet sigh.

                          http://www.davidstuff.com/wine/champa...

                          1. re: peridot79
                            z
                            zin1953 Sep 24, 2012 10:50 AM

                            As RicRios says, try to remove the cork as "soundlessly" as possible. Try turning the bottle in one direction, and the cork in another -- as if you are "unscrewing" the lid from a jar.

                            1. re: peridot79
                              Bill Hunt Sep 27, 2012 08:49 PM

                              That is great news!

                              Champagne, like many wines, is pretty hearty stuff, but CAN be damaged.

                              I agree with RicRios, in that with chilled Champagne (~ 45 F), I want to elicit a "pfffft," when I do "pop the cork." If I hear a "pop," I usually suspect too high a temp, or a faux pas, on my part.

                              Hunt

                            2. Bill Hunt Sep 15, 2012 08:18 PM

                              I agree that those wines will not harm you.

                              Some of the effervescence might have dissipated, but could well be fine.

                              Enjoy, and let us know how good they were.

                              Hunt

                              1. Tripeler Sep 15, 2012 06:45 AM

                                If they have been stored on their sides, my hunch is that they will be pretty good.

                                Be sure to post back and tell us how they turned out! Lots of us here want to know...

                                1. g
                                  goldangl95 Sep 12, 2012 05:46 PM

                                  As a friendly tip, the refrigerator is better than 80 degree plus heat for short periods of time (even - and this is my opinion not scientific - a whole summer). There is a high chance though that it will mess with the wine eventually.

                                  1. r
                                    Ricardo Malocchio Sep 11, 2012 09:44 AM

                                    Storing in the fridge is really only problematic for drying out the cork which could allow for oxidation. I'd be more concerned about what stresses those bottles saw before making their way to your fridge. Champagne improves drastically with bottle age, and the extremely high acidity will allow it to age for quite a long time.

                                    Is it the Cuvee Fleur? Belle Epoque blanc or rose? You might be in for a treat. Don't let the first whiff/taste throw you - feel free to pour it off into a decanter if really musty smelling.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Ricardo Malocchio
                                      c
                                      ceekskat Sep 12, 2012 09:17 PM

                                      "Storing in the fridge....drying out the cork which could allow for oxidation"....not that I keep bottles in fridge for any extended period of time, but good to know!

                                    2. m
                                      Maximilien Sep 11, 2012 04:35 AM

                                      Open bottle 1, if bad, open bottle 2, if bad open something else.

                                      Open bottle 1, if bad, open bottle 2, if good drink it!

                                      Open bottle 1, if good, drink it, and in celebration, open bottle 2, if drinkable drink; if not open something else!!1

                                      1. tim irvine Sep 10, 2012 04:43 PM

                                        A friend recently brought a similarly aged bottle of PJ. It went in the vinegar crock and we drank Pinot noir.

                                        1. d
                                          dinwiddie Sep 10, 2012 02:14 PM

                                          How long have they been there and how were they stored before they went into the fridge? In any case, unless they were handled badly (heat etc) they should be drinkable if somewhat over the hill. The only way to know is open them.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: dinwiddie
                                            p
                                            peridot79 Sep 10, 2012 03:00 PM

                                            i bought them in 1999 - they may have been exposed to warmer than optimal, but don't remember for how long - in the fridge for years...

                                            1. re: peridot79
                                              z
                                              zin1953 Sep 10, 2012 05:35 PM

                                              It won't kill you, so you may as well open it/them up and taste them. The WORST thing that can happen is that you say, "Yuck!" and pour it out. The BEST thing that can happen is that you say "Yum!" and enjoy it . . .

                                              1. re: peridot79
                                                ChefJune Sep 12, 2012 12:10 PM

                                                They've been in your fridge since 1999? That's 12 years. I knew a woman who did something similar with a 1985 Dom Perignon. She saved it so long that by the time she opened it, it wasn't worth drinking.

                                                I'd open them tonight. And in the future, the refrigerator is not the place for long storage of any wines. Neither the temperature nor the humidity is compatible with extended wine storage.

                                                1. re: ChefJune
                                                  z
                                                  zin1953 Sep 12, 2012 05:35 PM

                                                  NOR the vibration . . .

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