Wondering how is sparkling wine made? You might be even more intrigued by the many types of this wine there. You’ve heard of champagne and prosecco, but there’s also cava, cramé, and wanderer.
Sure, you can turn to the bottle for an answer when you’re out or shopping for your next bottle of bubbly, but you’ll come out of the experience even more confused. Most labels need to clarify the distinctions between the different types of sparkling wines.
This guide is here to help. We’ll break down how is sparkling wine made.
Base Wine Production
The process begins by producing a base wine, usually from high-quality grapes. The base wine is often a blend of different grape varieties. It may come from different vineyards to achieve the desired flavor profile.
After harvest, the grapes are gently crushed to extract their juice. They are fermented in stainless steel tanks or oak barrels, sometimes imparting the influence of oak staves, depending on your wine options.
In some cases, different batches of base wine from different grape varieties or vineyards are blended together to achieve a consistent and balanced flavor. This blending step is crucial for creating the desired taste of the final sparkling wine.
Addition of Liqueur de Tirage
A mixture of yeast and sugar, called “liqueur de tirage,” is added to the base wine. This triggers the second fermentation. The wine is then bottled and sealed with a crown cap (similar to a beer bottle cap) to trap the carbon dioxide produced during fermentation. As the yeast consumes the added sugar, it produces alcohol and carbon dioxide, which gets trapped in the sealed bottle, creating bubbles.
Aging on Lees
After the second fermentation, the bottles are stored horizontally and allowed to age on their lees. Lees are the spent yeast cells and other solids that accumulate at the bottom of the bottle. This aging process contributes to the complexity of the wine, adding flavors from autolysis (the breakdown of yeast cells), such as biscuits, bread, and nutty notes.
To remove the spent yeast cells and sediment from the bottle, a process known as “riddling” is performed. Bottles are gradually tilted and turned in a process called “remuage.” This encourages the yeast sediment to settle in the neck of the bottle.
Once the sediment has collected in the neck of the bottle, it’s time for disgorging. The neck of the bottle is frozen to create a plug of frozen sediment.
The bottle is opened, and the pressure inside forces out the frozen sediment. This step also removes a small portion of the wine, replaced with a mixture of wine and sugar known as “dosage.”
Aging and Maturation
After dosage and corking, the wine can age further in the bottle. The length of aging varies depending on the style of sparkling wine being produced.
The wine continues to develop flavors, and the bubbles become more integrated. Once the wine has reached its desired maturity, the bottles are labeled, and the sparkling wine is ready for release and consumption.
Discovering How Is Sparkling Wine Made
Making wine is an exciting and intricate process. By knowing how is sparkling wine made, you will know that it requires careful steps, but those willing to take the time to learn the process can make delicious bubbly creations. If you’re excited to try it, start by sourcing the right base wine for your sparkling needs!
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