There are experts that say it is best to store all Champagne and sparkling wines standing up. For short-term storage, not more than a month, let’s agree that this is most practical – but remember to keep the bottles away from bright light.
Long-term storage of vintage cuvées is quite another matter. These bottles should be stored on their sides in a wine rack or stacked the same way as in a cellar. Fine maturing Champagne, like all great wine, runs the risk of the cork drying out if it is kept upright for long periods. The actual temperature of storage (ideally about 7°C to 10°C) is less important than its constancy. Wild fluctuations of heat and cold are killers of all good wine, so avoid storing bottles in the kitchen and especially the garage or shed.
Bottle v magnum
For laying down Champagne, forget about half-bottles – their capacity to age is very erratic and the wine ages too fast. Bottles (750ml) age well and at a moderate rate: properly stored, they have capacity to age Champagne for 10 to 15 years. Magnums (1.5 litres) are the best format for long-term ageing because the ratio of wine to surface area allows for a slower, more even maturation of the wine and finer enduring flow of bubbles. In most cases, the magnum beats the bottle for added complexity, structure and nuances in the wine for 20 to 30 years.
Top tips for best storage
- Keep all bottles away from bright light.
- For long term storage, make sure the temperature is consistant – avoid storing in the kitchen or shed.
- For short term, Champagne can be stored standing up, but for longer term, it’s best horizontally.
By Michael Ewards