So, you’ve bought a bottle of champagne to celebrate the holidays with. Maybe you’ve got one tucked away for the New Year.
Knowing what to do when you’ve got a little leftover, though, can leave you at a loss. While this can easily be avoided by purchasing cans or mini versions, there are some brands that only offer the classic bottle. Champagne, being a bubbly wine, requires a different touch than your average red or white.
Does champagne go bad? Let’s look at the history, as well as the upkeep, behind this French icon.
1. What’s The Definition Of Champagne?
Thanks to broad labeling, true champagne is a detail often known to older wine aficionados but blurred among newer drinkers. There’s never been a better time to catch up on your regional wine differences and why they matter so much.
Champagne is named after a famous French region that created the drink…accidentally! Its history is utterly fascinating: thanks to different fermentation methods over the centuries, many wine barrels would end up with the aftereffect of higher acidity and bubbles. While some brands today may label themselves as such, the unique terroir and history of the region are what truly separates this drink from imitators. If it weren’t for the particular climate it was crafted in, champagne literally would not have been made.
Champagne is not chardonnay. It’s also regionally and culturally distinctive from general sparkling wine. Separate your bubbly vintage from authenticity for your next celebration and literally taste the difference.
2. What Are Popular Occasions For A Celebratory Bottle?
An icon of mainstream music videos and bachelorette parties, the pop of a bottle announces good times ahead. It’s bubbly, it’s buzzy, it’s the perfect complement to a happy memory.
Name a celebration (with legal drinking ages, of course) and you’ll find a bottle or two of champagne in a bucket of ice. Weddings, bachelor parties, bachelorette parties, job promotions, and homeownership are easily the most popular reasons to pull out the drink. The United Kingdom, the United States, and Japan are today’s top exporters and importers of the vintage. Champagne’s designation as a particularly iconic wine region hasn’t reduced the popularity of champagne-style drinks all over the world, either. Just visit your average grocery store wine aisle and you’ll see plenty of sparkling wine designed to mimic this delectable classic.
3. What Different Kinds Are There?
Before you ask, “Does champagne go bad and how do I keep it fizzy?”, you’ll need to know which kind you want in the first place. They may all look bright and bubbly, but this bubbly drink has just as much variety as any other type of wine.
Champagne is made from three grape varieties: pinot noir, chardonnay, and Meunier. Pinot noir is a red grape, while Meunier is a black grape and chardonnay a green grape. champagne brut and champagne rosé are likely the most recognizable names on the list, popularized on both grocery store shelves and in your average restaurant as an aperitif. The champagne demi-sec and the champagne sec are separated primarily through sweetness levels. Champagne Blanc de noirs are a rich and fruity variation I can’t wait to try, personally.
Are you in the mood for a dark and full-bodied variation or a light, dry glass? Either way, you’ll want to know what to do when it starts to go bad.
4. Does Champagne Go Bad?
All wine has the potential to go bad, even before you’ve opened the bottle. Champagne has the added detriment of going flat, to boot.
It’s best to plan a bottle of bubbly around a particularly robust night of drinking. If you can’t do that, there’s still hope. Keeping the bubbles sharp and bright means putting your bottle in the fridge as soon as possible and using a rubber wine stopper to keep air from getting into the drink. Even then, you’ll have to expect a little bit of a difference compared to the first day. Don’t expect more than a day or two before your bottle starts losing its flavor and feeling a little on the dull side.
Does champagne go bad? It definitely does, and a lot quicker than other wines.
5. What Snacks Go Well With Champagne?
Make your bottle travel even further with complementary recipes or snacks.
There are several salty finger foods and cold cuts that can accompany your glass. My personal favorites are salami and creamy white cheeses, though you also can’t go wrong with a little dried pork. Remember to compliment your food alongside the champagne type, too: champagne brut is on the dry side, eschewing sweetness in favor of tart, tight, airy notes. A more juicy and tangy option, like champagne rosé or champagne blanc de noirs, pairs nicely with a dessert. At the end of the day, you want flavor contrast to bring out the best of both worlds.
It’s a drink usually enjoyed with good company and good food. To refresh your palette in-between food types, eat a starchy bread or plain cracker to ‘reset’ your taste buds.
6. What Recipes Go Well With Champagne?
If you’re feeling a little too hungry for a charcuterie, consider pairing your champagne with a coordinated meal. It’s also popular as an aperitif, a term for alcohol used to stimulate the appetite before or after eating.
Try pairing your fizzy brut with savory meat, such as baked chicken or a juicy steak. If dry wines leave you a little too parched, a glass of sweeter champagne like champagne rosé or champagne blanc de noirs is considered perfect with just about any type of seafood-based dish. Ask any wine fanatic and you’ll likely be told that champagne demi-sec is an exclusive dessert drink, so save that bottle for your pie or pudding.
Champagne, just like any other wine, is a joy to experiment with. Take some time to consider what kind of dish would really bring out your glass’s true potential. Don’t forget to swirl and sniff!
7. How Do I Open The Bottle Safely?
This is an important, and sometimes risky, part of the champagne experience. The last thing you want to do is take someone’s eye out on their special day!
Champagne is corked extra tight to keep it as fizzy as possible. The classic pop and gush of foam is celebrated year after year, but can sometimes go sour if not done correctly. The first thing you need to do is loosen up the cork without actually removing it: the champagne will have what’s known as a ‘cage’ covering the top. Twist this off carefully, making sure to face the bottle away from yourself and anyone else around you. I like to hold both the cage and the cork and twist the bottle itself, gradually easing the air out in little spurts.
Does champagne go bad? If you knock someone in the head, it might. While it’s fun to shake the bottle and watch it burst, you might just end up with a bruise and an embarrassing memory.
8. What Are A Few Good Brands To Try?
Not sure where to get started with all this new information? You’re not alone. Wine is difficult to jump into due to its complex types, regions, and aging process. It grows easier as you become comfortable with wine types and wine grape names.
Due to champagne’s unique origin and high demand, it tends to run along with a higher price point than other wine types. A good place to start is with the much-beloved Laurent-Perrier La Cuvee Brut from Wine.com. Running at a solid $45, this is a tasty and classy brand straight from Champagne, France. If you want to try the sweeter champagne rose, the Champagne Lallier Grand Rosé is a fruity, smoky, full-bodied delight that’s enjoyed consistently high ratings among buyers. It currently goes for $65 and is considered to be on the ‘intense’ side.
While some bottles can run for several hundreds of dollars, you don’t need to break the bank to get your first taste of this stunning concoction.
Champagne is a rare occasion you want to treasure. It makes sense you’d want to savor every last drop.
Protecting the bubbles in your vintage is possible within a one to two-day timespan. If that still doesn’t sound like enough, pair your champagne bottle with some finger food so you can burn through your purchase without a second thought. Remember to enjoy it safely!
If you know someone who wants to try champagne but is worried about cheap imitators, link them to this list. In the meantime: what special occasion are you saving your bottle for?