Like all alcoholic beverages, champagne does not have a best-before date. Alcohol has a disinfecting effect. Therefore, a best-before date can be dispensed with. Rather, the shelf life depends on various other factors. Champagnes are very sensitive and react relatively quickly to the environment in which the bottles are stored. In order for champagne to retain its full enjoyment at all over a longer period of time, appropriate storage is necessary. Therefore, it is always critical to buy champagne in retail stores where it is foreseeable that the bottles have already been on the shelves for a long time, where they have been exposed to light and heat.
The minimum requirement to even talk about a longer shelf life is therefore a correct storage. Champagne should be stored in absolute darkness. The temperature should be as constant as possible. Champagne and white wine are even more sensitive to fluctuating temperatures than to excessively warm temperatures. A good storage temperature is 12°C. The cooler champagne is stored, the slower its ripening process. In addition, champagne must rest. Shocks have a negative effect.
However, the temperature should be above 4°C. All juice, including grape juice, consists primarily of water. Water has its highest density at 4°C. If the temperature drops below that, water expands. This happens drastically at temperatures around and below freezing. Even if the alcohol content counteracts this somewhat, a cork cannot stop the carbon dioxide. In extreme cases, the cork could be forced out or the bottle could burst.
As a rule of thumb, the shelf life is the period of time that a champagne has matured on the yeast. This means for standard cuvées a period of about 3 years (discount champagne rather only 2 years) and for high-quality champagne, such as the classified Grand Cru and Premier Cru Champagne, as well as Prestige Cuvée and vintage champagne, about 5 to 12 years. With correspondingly available acidity and also otherwise perfect circumstances, champagne can also be durable for decades. At some point, however, even the best cork wears off, and since counterpressure is usually absent, Champagne loses its carbonic acid. The result is a still wine.