Sparkling wine

Κείμενο Karen Fick

Sparkling wine image 1

Sparkling wine can be red, white or rose, be any alcoholic strength (up to the mid-teens), have any degree of sweetness and any amount of fizziness. The character of the foam can vary in terms of size, consistency and persistence of the bubbles. Bone dry sparkling wine is labelled as brut, sparkling wines labelled as sec are not quite as dry and medium sweet sparkling wine are labelled as doux.

Sparkling wine is more sensitive to light and temperature than other wines so should be carefully stored. Most should be drunk within a year or so but a few blends can develop with age. It should be served chilled - too warm and it will quickly froth and go flat, as it will if served in a wide shallow glass.

References to wines that have effervesced, albeit accidentally, go back as far as the bible but it was not until bottle making techniques had advanced to the point where a bottle could be manufactured that would withstand the pressure of the sparkling wine without the bottle exploding that this phenomena could be controlled and turned into a marketable product. It is widely held that it was the English who first produced fizzy wine.

In 1662 the Englishman Christopher Merrett presented a report to the Royal Society which noted that "our wine coopers of recent times use vast quantities of sugar and molasses to all sorts of wines to make them drink brisk and sparkling" and we know that the English were able to produce strong coal-fired bottles at a time when French glass was still too weak to withstand sparkling wine's pressure. The English also had access to the cork which was needed for stoppers before it was available in France.

In Champagne, the Bénédictine monk Dom Pérignon (1639-1715) carried out tests with a view to controlling the natural effervescence which regularly occurred in the spring when wine fermentations restarted after the winter cold. Legend has it that he is the inventor of the Champagne or traditional method of making sparkling wine which is thought to have been put into practice some 20 years after the introduction of sparkling wine in England.

Champagne is produced exclusively in the Champagne region of North East France and accounts for about 8% of global sparkling wine production. The terms mousseux and crémant refer to styles of French sparkling wine not made in the Champagne region. Sparkling wines produced in Spain are known as cava, in Italy as spumante and in Germany as sekt. The potential of a sparkling wine to fizz is measured by the pressure inside the stoppered bottle.

European law defines a sparkling wine as any wine with a pressure in excess of three atmospheres. A semi-sparkling wine has a pressure of between one and 2.5 atmospheres. Most fully sparkling wines, including champagne, have a pressure of between five and six atmospheres. Sparkling wine fizzes because of the presence of dissolved carbon dioxide and the wine maker can control the fizz potential by controlling the amount of carbon dioxide generated during the production process.

There are two ways to make sparkling wine, i.e. to get carbon dioxide into the wine. The first is through a second fermentation (the tirage stage) of the blended base wine which is brought about by adding yeast and sugar to the base wine. Under this method (which includes the méthode champenoise) carbon dioxide waste produced during fermentation is trapped under pressure in the wine. There are variations on this method but essentially it takes place in either a vat or the bottle.

The other and cheaper way of making sparkling wine is by injecting the base wine with carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide is held dissolved under pressure in the sparkling wine and only effervesces out of the liquid when the bottle is opened, the pressure is released and it comes into contact with nucleation sites (miniscule pits and scratches) on the bottle and glass.

Sparkling wines are usually made from a blend of base wines and this blending (assemblage) takes place after the first fermentation. Some sparkling wine makers will have the option to select from a huge range of base wines and reserve, or aged wines (such as in the Champagne region) while others will have to make do with the cheapest local wine available.

Wines that are high in acidity and unobtrusively flavoured are good for sparkling wine so the grapes used for the base wines do not need a high sugar content and can be picked before the grape is completely ripe. Chardonny and Pinot Noir grapes are ideal as they are relatively neutral and have a good balance of acidity and sugar when ripe. Pressing must be particularly light to ensure that phenolics (colour, tannins etc) are kept to a minimum.

Sort by:
Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle image

Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle

Category: Wine - Sparkling
Sub category: Champagne
alc./vol: 12

Billecart-Salmon Vintage 2004 Extra Brut Champagne image

Billecart-Salmon Vintage 2004 Extra Brut Champagne

Category: Wine - Sparkling
Sub category: Champagne
alc./vol: 12

G.H. Mumm Cuvée R. Lalou Brut 1999 image

G.H. Mumm Cuvée R. Lalou Brut 1999

Category: Wine - Sparkling
Sub category: Champagne
alc./vol: 12.5

Duval-Leroy Femme de Champagne 2000 image

Duval-Leroy Femme de Champagne 2000

Category: Wine - Sparkling
Sub category: Champagne
alc./vol: 12

Lacroix Brut Reserve image

Lacroix Brut Reserve

Category: Wine - Sparkling
Sub category: Champagne
alc./vol: 12

Jacquart Cuvée Alpha 2005 image

Jacquart Cuvée Alpha 2005

Category: Wine - Sparkling
Sub category: Champagne
alc./vol: 12.5

Dom Ruinart 2004 Blanc de Blancs image

Dom Ruinart 2004 Blanc de Blancs

Category: Wine - Sparkling
Sub category: Champagne
alc./vol: 12.5

Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Rosé 2006 image

Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Rosé 2006

Category: Wine - Sparkling
Sub category: Champagne
alc./vol: 12.5

Laurent-Perrier 1990 image

Laurent-Perrier 1990

Category: Wine - Sparkling
Sub category: Champagne
alc./vol: 12

R. C. Lemaire Millésime 2005 image

R. C. Lemaire Millésime 2005

Category: Wine - Sparkling
Sub category: Champagne
alc./vol: 12

Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque 2004 image

Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque 2004

Category: Wine - Sparkling
Sub category: Champagne
alc./vol: 12.5

Bollinger La Grande Année Brut 2002 image

Bollinger La Grande Année Brut 2002

Category: Wine - Sparkling
Sub category: Champagne
alc./vol: 12.5

Jacquart Brut de Nominée NV Champagne image

Jacquart Brut de Nominée NV Champagne

Category: Wine - Sparkling
Sub category: Champagne
alc./vol: 12.5

Duval-Leroy Femme de Champagne 2004 image

Duval-Leroy Femme de Champagne 2004

Category: Wine - Sparkling
Sub category: Champagne
alc./vol: 12

Piper-Heidsieck Rare Millesime 2002 Champagne image

Piper-Heidsieck Rare Millesime 2002 Champagne

Category: Wine - Sparkling
Sub category: Champagne
alc./vol: 12

Lanson Extra Age Brut image

Lanson Extra Age Brut

Category: Wine - Sparkling
Sub category: Champagne
alc./vol: 12.5

Laurent-Perrier Brut 2004 image

Laurent-Perrier Brut 2004

Category: Wine - Sparkling
Sub category: Champagne
alc./vol: 12

Laurent-Perrier Alexandra Rose 2004 image

Laurent-Perrier Alexandra Rose 2004

Category: Wine - Sparkling
Sub category: Champagne
alc./vol: 12

Canard Duchene Brut NV image

Canard Duchene Brut NV

Category: Wine - Sparkling
Sub category: Champagne
alc./vol: 12

Gosset Petite Douceur Rose image

Gosset Petite Douceur Rose

Category: Wine - Sparkling
Sub category: Champagne
alc./vol: 12

Tillington Single Vineyard 2010 image

Tillington Single Vineyard 2010

Category: Wine - Sparkling
Sub category: English Sparkling wines
alc./vol: 12

Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque 2007 image

Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque 2007

Category: Wine - Sparkling
Sub category: Champagne
alc./vol: 12.5

Ombra Di Pantera Prosecco Superiore Brut Millesima image

Ombra Di Pantera Prosecco Superiore Brut Millesima

Category: Wine - Sparkling
Sub category: Prosecco
alc./vol: 11.5

Laurent-Perrier Rose image

Laurent-Perrier Rose

Category: Wine - Sparkling
Sub category: Champagne
alc./vol: 12

Showing results per page