The lay down on storage

01 January 2000
The lay down on storage

News comes from Champagne's ruling body, the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC), that we should really be storing our bottles of Champagne upright, not lying them down the normal way. Restaurateurs buying in stocks to quaff for the millennium, take note.

This whammy is the result of 22 months of research in which 3,000 bottles of non-vintage and vintage Champagne were variously stored: on their sides, stored upright for three months, and stored upright throughout the study, in cool and constant cellar temperatures and in a temperature-fluctuating shop environment.

The results revealed that laying Champagne on its side actually ages it more quickly. How so? The Champagne cork's humidity is higher when the bottle is kept lying down because of its contact with liquid, thus losing it some of its elasticity, which allows tiny amounts of oxygen to creep in. If the bottle is kept upright, the cork's elasticity is preserved.

The CIVC points out, however, that the differences on the palate are minor and only appear after a substantial period of time, not for Champagne bought today and consumed tomorrow.

Ways to develop

It is also a very personal decision, the CIVC says, how customers wish their Champagne to develop - whether they like it to have a mature character or more freshness. The one sure result from the study is that constant temperatures when cellaring (10-15¼C) are best, whether bottles are kept upright or stored flat.

For more information, contact the Champagne Information Bureau on 0171-495 4909.

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