How to store champagne. In our fast paced world, we tend to purchase wine and champagne that will be consumed soon after and maybe even the day it is purchased. There is no real problem with that, but champagne is one wine that typically benefits from some additional aging. Even inexpensive non-vintage house styles will often improve for a year or two after purchase provided they haven’t spent extra time on the retail shelf. If you are a frequent champagne consumer, you may want to consider including a place to properly store your treasures. The primary considerations for proper storage are temperature, humidity, minimal light and minimal vibration.
The ideal storage temperature for champagne is 52° or 53° F. Long term storage should ideally be at a constant temperature between 48° and 53° F. Champagne tends to age best at temperatures slightly cooler than other wine. An acceptable range for short term storage of a year or less is at a constant temperature between 48° and 65° F (but preferably below 60° F). Champagne will oxidize and age more quickly at temperatures nearing 65° F, so it is important to only store for short term periods at the higher end of the range. It is very important that the temperature remain as constant as possible. Erratic shifts are harder on champagne than storage at the upper end of the range. Don’t keep champagne in a regular refrigerator for more than a day. A standard refrigerator will actually draw moisture from the cork. Also the odors from other foods can be absorbed if left for extended periods.
Some degree of humidity is beneficial. Ideally, relative humidity ideally should be about 75% but a range of 70 to 85% is generally acceptable. This helps ensure corks don’t dry out. Too much humidity can lead to label deterioration, peeling or moldiness.
Agitation from vibration can negatively affect champagne. Try to store in an area that is not going to cause the champagne to be shaken such as near a washer/dryer or air conditioning unit.
The storage area should be dark. Sunlight and artificial light both cause premature aging. If your storage area is not dark most of the time, store your champagne in a box, even if you did not purchase it in a box. Also keep any wrapping intact. Champagne in clear bottles, such as Roederer’s Cristal needs special protection. Cristal is wrapped in anti-UV cellophane which should be not be removed until you are ready to open it.
The environment in the area should be such that there are no strong, ongoing smells. Scents will eventually be absorbed over time and harm the delicate flavors of the champagne.
The final controversial storage question remains, should you store the bottles horizontally or standing up? There are two different philosophies, both with very valid points. In theory, champagne can be stored standing up because the amount of CO2 in the space between the cork and the liquid is sufficient to keep the cork moist and incorporates enough humidity that the cork will not dry out like it would with a still wine. In addition, upright storage should potentially lessen the chance of having a cork tainted wine, because the liquid would have only minimal contact with the cork. One study I read reportedly demonstrated that the cork elasticity remains more intact when standing up. It concluded that when champagne bottles are laid down for long periods, the alcohol and acidity alter the cork’s properties, but differences are small. There appeared to be little if any perceptible differences in taste between bottles that were laid down versus those that were standing in the study. On the other side of the argument that advocates laying down your champagne… with more and more Champagne houses going to Diam Mytik cork, minimizing any chance of faults from corks, there is no point to storing bottles standing up to minimize cork taint. The proponents of horizontal storage feel that even champagne corks will dry out over time – anything more than 3 or 4 months. The other issue that is argued is space. Most wine units and many storage cellars are not designed to accommodate multiple bottles in an upright position. In my opinion, there are valid points for both schools of thought. I am one with limited space so I am forced to store horizontally. You will have to make your own decisions on this subject!!