How are Sparkling Wines Made?

How are Sparkling Wines Made?

There are two types of wine: base wine—also known as “still wine”—and sparkling wine. Base wine covers the standard process of making wine. It requires a single fermentation process which transforms the grape juice into wine. This wine is not carbonated. To do this and create sparkling wine, a second fermentation process is required. The wine is first fermented to a still wine, and then the second process is forced by the winemaker. It involves the addition of sugar and yeasts to the wine. This creates carbon dioxide bubbles. However, it must be trapped in order to create a sparkling wine.

This can be done in one of two ways. Tank fermentation is the most popular option. It is fast and efficient. Tank fermentation uses large pressurized tanks to trap CO2 bubbles.  It is also known as the charmat method, cuve close, or bulk method. This is because of the shorter fermentation period. Because of this, these wines are often made in larger quantities and are therefore much more affordable, selling as low as $3 a bottle.

Bottle fermentation is when the fermentation happens within the bottles the wine is sold in. Also known as the “traditional” or “classic” method of fermenting sparkling wines, this is also the method that produces much more expensive bottles.  These have a much longer fermentation period that can last up to three years, increasing the cost of a bottle of classic fermented sparkling wine to over $100 a bottle.

Both methods provide a different taste to the wine. The tank method provides a more fruity flavor to the sparkling wine than bottle fermentation. Wines fermented in a tank should be enjoyed while young as the fruity flavors will be at their maximum peak.  Bottle fermentation diminishes the overall fruity flavor of a wine yet adds aromas and flavors that cannot otherwise be achieved, such as nutty and more of a caramel flavor than tank fermented sparkling wines. These are less aggressive sparkling wines and are enjoyed aged.

Sidenote:

Are sparkling wines and Champagne the same?

Many people are curious to know: what is the difference between a sparkling wine and Champagne? Are they the same?  In fact, they are not. The only sparkling wine that can truly be named Champagne are the blends that may include grapes such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and are created in the Champagne region of France.

 

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