There have been extensive books written on the history of sparkling wine, particularly the most famous of them all: Champagne. This article is not meant to be an in depth investigation of the processes involved, but a more simplified explanation to help you understand what you are getting for your money.
There are four different methods to making Sparkling wine: Traditional Method (better known as Méthode Champenoise); Transfer Method, Charmat Method (also known as the Tank Method), and lastly (and lowly) the Injection Method.
|Madame Veuve Clicquot|
The second way to produce a sparkling wine is the transfer method. All the steps are the same as traditional method, up to remuage. Instead of this time consuming (and expensive) process, the wine is emptied from the bottle (or transferred) to a pressurized tank, where the wine is separated from the sediment in bulk. The dosage is added, in bulk, and then bottled under pressure. The final result is fairly indistinguishable (much to the chagrin of the French) from the traditional method.
|Montagne De Reims, Champagne, France|
The last method is the cheapest method, and that is through direct injection of the carbon dioxide into the wine, just as you would add carbonation to a soda. The resulting wine produces large bubbles that dissipate quickly.
Some tips on understanding the labels:
Extra Brut = bone dry
Brut = dry
Extra Sec = medium dry
Sec = medium sweet
Demi sec = sweet
Doux = Very sweet
Blanc de Blancs = white wine from white grapes (best aging capacity)
Blanc de Noirs = white wine from red grapes (more full bodied than above)
Cuvee de Prestige = usually the best wine the house has to offer
For tips on serving your Sparkling wine, check out my earlier blog here.
So what are some of your favorite sparkling wines?