US scientists have found that Champagne kept at lower temperatures is less likely to develop a “browning” compound that turns wine bad. The compound, known as 5-HMF, builds up in food and drink as it spoils, and can be measured by food manufacturers to tell when to throw a product out.
As reported by the Daily Telegraph, the research, which goes against convention, suggests that Champagne should be kept in the fridge to prolong its life. The same rules apply for both Prosecco and Cava, which should be kept in the fridge at around 4 degrees rather than at an average of 16 degrees in a cellar. Lead researcher Montserrat Riu-Aumatell and his team tested 5-HMF levels in several bottles of sparkling wine stored over two years at different temperatures: room, cellar and fridge. The study, published in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, found that refrigerating sparkling wines almost completely prevented the browning compound from developing, thus keeping the fizz fresh.
Sparkling wine is traditionally stored in a cool, dry place like a cellar in order to minimise the wine’s exposure to light, movement and changes in temperature. Fridges have been shunned in the past as a place to store Champagne due to their dry environment, internal lighting and vibrations, all of which are thought to harm fizz.