Behind the Wine, Part Three: How to store English Sparkling Wine

Behind the Wine, Part Three: How to store English Sparkling Wine

Many know how to store their best Bordeaux, and what temperature their Chablis should be chilled to, however, for many, storing and maturing sparkling wine is a mystery. A good bottle of sparkling wine is something to treat with care, to ensure the best experience upon drinking. Here at Hambledon Vineyard, we're often asked how customers can preserve our wines, to best enjoy in the weeks, months and years to come. Our winemaker, Tobias, answers all of your questions.

Can sparkling wine be stored standing up?

There are three schools of thought when it comes to this question.

  • One that says, yes, it not only can but should be stored vertically; this is to avoid any potential for cork related spoilage.
  • One that says, yes and no, for shorter cellaring the bottle is just fine standing up, but for longer cellaring it should be placed horizontally; this is to avoid oxygen penetration.
  • And a third one that says that it doesn’t matter! With sparkling wines in particular, the pressure will help to keep the cork moist regardless of angle. 

Can sparkling wine be corked?

Just like all other wines using natural cork, sparkling wines can be affected by cork taint. The main cause of cork taint is the presence of the chemical compounds 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA) or 2,4,6-tribromoanisole (TBA) in the wine. These compounds will in most cases have been transferred from the cork, but they can also have been transferred through the cork.

But how big is this risk? The cork-industry group APCOR cites a study showing a 0.7–1.2% taint rate. The Cork Quality Council states that 3% of the corks they test are contaminated by TCA.

Can sparkling wine freeze?

All wine, sparkling included, is primarily water. Therefore, yes, it can. Given that a sparkling wine contains around 12 % ethanol it freezes at roughly -6 degrees Celsius, so, after around 5 hours in a normal freezer, your wine will freeze. 

Can sparkling wine expire?

As with all wine, sparkling wine has no expiration date, as such– it’s all down to subjective taste. At Hambledon Vineyard, our sparkling wine can age, in optimum conditions, for around 3-7 years, depending on the cuvée, in accordance with most consumers’ taste – after that it becomes a question of personal preference.

How long can you keep sparkling wine for?

This really comes down to personal taste, but prestige champagnes such as Salon, Selosse, Cristal and Dom Pérignon can age gracefully for decades. I would dare to suggest that most consumers would enjoy our Hambledon Vineyard Classic Cuvée up to 3-5 years after disgorging – after that it’s wholly subjective. When it comes to wine that has spent a considerable amount of time on the lees, such as our Première Cuvée, it can be much longer than that. Personally, I’m looking forward to trying all our wines with decades of cellaring.   

Will sparkling wine explode in checked luggage?

Cargo holds are generally pressurized, and heated, so the pressure will never change drastically enough to explode a bottle. The fact that a sparkling wine bottle is designed to withstand the pressure that forms the bubbles also means it can handle quite a lot in this sense.  

Will sparkling wine go flat?

Traditional method sparkling wine, such as Hambledon’s English Fizz, will last 3-5 days in the fridge after being opened before going flat- a good quality bottle stopper can help with this. Cellaring a wine for decades will also slowly diminish the bubbles but the wine can still be fully enjoyable.