Q: I have a bottle of Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Perignon vintage 1975. Is there a way to tell if it is still good by looking through the bottle? Should it be clear...

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Q:

I have a bottle of Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Perignon vintage 1975. Is there a way to tell if it is still good by looking through the bottle? Should it be clear, or can it show some sediment from the bottom of the bottle?


A:

As I’m sure you know, you have one of the very finest Champagnes in the world in your cellar. Better still, you have a bottle from a vintage to which Champagne expert Tom Stevenson, author of the World Encyclopedia of Champagne and Sparkling Wine, gives his highest (three-star) rating.

Stevenson’s most recent tasting notes for the ’75 Dom calls it “absolutely complete [and] still in a fruit-driven mode,” which leads me to believe that your bottle, though old for most Champagnes, is probably still drinking very well.

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There are caveats, however. You do not say how long you have owned this wine, or how it has been stored, or where it was obtained. Champagne is pretty hardy as wines go, but the same things that can ruin other wines (too much heat, temperature fluctuations, exposure to direct sunlight) can ruin it as well. There is also the small but real chance of a bad cork.

Champagne does not throw a sediment, and there is no way that I know of to tell by looking at the bottle if the wine is still good. I should mention that this wine is quite valuable — new vintages of Dom sell for over $100, and in a restaurant your ’75 would command several hundred dollars at least. So the advice from here is to enjoy it soon, with someone you love, on a special occasion.

Paul Gregutt answers questions weekly in the Wine section. He can be reached by e-mail at wine@seattletimes.com.