Sparkling Wines

Tuesday, June 12th, 2007 at 12:00 am

Sparkling wine is a type of wine that has been introduced to carbon dioxide, making it quite fizzy. The carbon dioxide may have been a result of natural fermentation, either in the bottle as the technique done in the méthode champenoise or it could be done in a large enough tank which is designed to endure the different pressures that are involved in a fermentation process such as the Charmat process. If it the gas that is introduced to the wine is injected then the wine should be labeled as "aerated sparkling wine with carbon dioxide".

The United States is one of the biggest producers of Sparkling Wine-California being famous for its rosé sparklers. There have been other countries in the world that has been able to produce sparkling wine that could compete with the rest of the world. World-class wine is now possible in the United Kingdom and they are even able to produce white or rose types. There are also other countries such as Australia who are known for their "shiraz" which is of high quality.

There are other wines out there which are only made lightly sparkling. An example of this is the vinho verde that is found in Portugal. These types of wines are often labeled as frizzante or petillant. In English, it is translated as semi-sparkling wines. Sparkling wines as opposed to Semi-sparkling wines must contain in them more than 2.5 atmospheres of carbon dioxide as at sea level and 20° C.

It is possible that the sparkling wines that are produced in the United States are made through the méthode champenoise or the charmat method. The méthode champenoise method is the technique wherein the wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks after which the wine is introduced to some yeast and bottled up with a soda cap.

The methode champenoise continues by waiting for fermentation to happen again for around two to three years. Some sediments are then taken out by a riddling rack by slowly titling the wine bottle from a horizontal position to a vertical one. It will then proceed to a process called disgorgement which freezes the bottle and takes out the frozen sludge of sediments.

The charmat technique is a unique bulk method used for making sparkling wines that was developed by Frenchman Eugene Charmat way back in 1910. This process involves faster and less expensive production techniques that is quite similar to the initial process of the methode champenoise by using large pressurized tanks.

However, the charmat process does this for the entirety of the production process. The interconnected tanks retain the pressure that comes from the carbon dioxide during fermentation. The charmat method, does not go through the second process in the methode champenoise which makes the production of sparkling wine faster and cheaper.

There are lower cost sparklers such as André, Cook’s and Tott’s which use the charmat method while there are those sparklers who utilize the more meticulous and higher-quality-producing technique of the méthode champenoise.


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