Sparkling wine is the ultimate treat, and a fine bottle can last for years. But does sparkling wine go off? The answer to this depends on many factors, including the wine’s type, manufacturing method, and the storage conditions it’s been under.
If you have just discovered you have a bottle of sparkling wine you didn’t know you had, or if you’re just curious about the longevity of sparkling wine, this guide is for you. You’ll learn how to tell if your sparkling wine has gone bad and what to do with a bottle once you’ve opened it.
Does Sparkling Wine Go Off?
Eventually, yes, sparkling wine does expire. In the winemaking process, the combination of alcohol development and fermentation of grapes ensures that bacteria have less to feed on and so not as many survive. This translates to a longer time needed for the wine to break down and finally expire.
However, this does not last forever.
How Long Can Sparkling Wine Last?
How long this expiry process takes depends on a number of factors:
- Colour: Red and white wines have different shelf lives from each other. In the stalks of each grape, there are compounds called “tannins” which act as natural preservatives, slowing down chemical reactions that cause a wine to go off. Red wines typically last longer than white wines because of their higher tannin content.
- Manufacturing method: The finer the wine, the longer the shelf life. The drier the wine, the longer it will last because dry wines have less sugar in them. You can learn the different methods for sparkling wine production with our comprehensive guide.
- Storage conditions: How your sparkling wine has been stored also affects its longevity. If your wine has a cork but has been stored upright, the cork may have dried out and shrunk, letting air in and spoiling the wine. Properly stored wine will last longer. Read more about storage conditions below.
What to Do With a Bottle of Opened Sparkling Wine
So, how long does an opened bottle of sparkling wine last? Once opened, they should be consumed, ideally, on the day of opening, but definitely within 3-4 days.
If you have opened a bottle of sparkling wine and can’t finish it, here’s what you should do:
- Invest in a proper wine stopper to prevent loss of carbonation
- Keep the bottle cold at all times as heat quickens carbonation loss – room temperature is a no-no!
How to Tell If Your Sparkling Wine Has Expired
Thankfully, there are some obvious signs that wine has gone bad that will prevent you from mistakenly drinking bad wine.
Check the following factors to make sure:
- Odour: Open your wine and smell it: a suspicious smell is the most obvious sign that it’s past its expiry date. A suspicious smell can be unpleasant or it can be medicinal or vinegary. Sometimes, it can even smell like burnt rubber.
- Taste: To test this, you need only take a very small sip of the wine and hold it in your mouth before spitting it out. Sour notes or a sharp vinegary taste will indicate that your wine has gone off. Look out also for a horseradish-like taste or caramelised flavours as an indication of expiry.
- Colour: If your sparkling wine has undergone an obvious colour change, it’s an indication that chemical changes are happening and the wine is no longer suitable for drinking. It’s a good idea to discard it.
If you have a bottle of unopened sparkling wine and you do not want to open it to check the taste or smell, don’t worry. There are ways you can tell if an unopened bottle of sparkling wine has gone off.
How Long Does an Unopened Bottle of Sparkling Wine Last?
So, does sparkling wine expire if unopened? Yes, but it takes longer than you may think. Generally, sparkling wines can actually be enjoyed between 2-3 years past their recommended drinking window.
A quality bottle of Champagne, or a fine sparkling wine made in the traditional method, should last for at least a decade.
The biggest factor when it comes to determining whether your unopened sparkling wine has expired is the storage conditions it’s been under.
Read our guide
How to Store Sparkling Wine Properly
These are the key factors to ensuring your sparkling wine doesn’t go bad prematurely:
- Temperature: The temperature of your wine is the biggest factor in preserving its quality. A standard fridge is much too cold for unopened sparkling wine storage. Either a cool, dark cupboard, a wine cellar, or a speciality wine fridge is what you need. Consistency is also important: wines need stability for the chemical reactions that develop the flavours to start occurring inside the bottle.
- Humidity: The ideal humidity range for long-term storage is between 55-85%, as the cork needs to be kept moist. When the cork dries out, it shrinks and allows oxygen in and carbon dioxide out. Excess moisture can also lead to mould growth. It should be noted, however, that screwtop wines are not affected by cellar humidity in the same way as corked wines.
- Position: Wine bottles should be stored horizontally, ideally at a slight angle. This ensures that the cork doesn’t dry out and that the ullage (created when a wine is bottled) remains at the top and matures the wine slowly. Wines should also be positioned somewhere completely still, as vibrations can alter the acid and alcohol concentration levels, causing sensory changes like added sourness. You can cover your bottles with bubble wrap or straw bottle holders to keep them safe.
- Light levels: The UV rays in sunlight can interact with amino acids in wine, producing sulphur-based compounds reminiscent of cabbage. Sparkling wines are especially susceptible to this. Keep your sparkling wine somewhere dark, cool, and a little humid.
More tips for proper wine storage
Discover the Best of English Sparkling Wine with Bolney Wine Estate
Has all this talk of sparkling wine got you in the mood for a glass? Make it a premium bottle with Bolney Wine Estate’s range of award-winning English sparkling wine. Whether you’re looking for a single bottle of bubbly for a little treat or a dazzling party case, we are sure to have the selection for you.
We have been making quality red, white, and rosé English wines for nearly half a century at our stunning Sussex estate. You can view our curated selection or subscribe and save with our monthly wine subscription and ensure you always have a bottle of sparkling wine to hand.