3 Essential Things You Need to Know About Sparkling Wines
Throughout history, wines have always been considered a special alcoholic drink. It carries an elegant characteristic because of its ancient roots and unique processing by fermenting the grapes. Sparkling wines, in particular, literally have bubbly attributes which makes them a fun, stylish and surprising wine to drink. The process of making sparkling wine is the most technical of all wines.
Here are 3 important things you should know about sparkling wines-– the method, the types and the level of sweetness:
Sparkling wines can be produced in 6 different methods:
Méthode Champenoise, also known as the traditional method, is the premier method of producing sparkling wine. Secondary fermentation happens in the bottle and will take time to age on its lees (dead yeast cells) which will impact its flavour, aroma and textures.
Also known as the tank method, the Charmat Method is the quick and cheaper way to produce sparkling wines. A tank is used as the vessel to turn the wine into sparkling instead of the bottle. Instead of ageing the wine on its lees, the CO2 will be released which will pressurise the tank for its second fermentation. The sparkling wine will be bottled and sold to the market without ageing.
Transversage or the transfer method is similar to the traditional method. The secondary fermentation will happen in the bottle and will be transferred to the pressurised tank to be filtered.
Méthode Ancestrale or ancestral method involves the wine being bottled and sealed in icy temperatures and filtration to pause the first fermentation for a number of months. Then the wine will be bottled to finish the fermentation and trap the CO2 in the bottle to produce bubbles.
Carbonation or gas injection is the least expensive of all the methods. The wine doesn’t need to have its second fermentation. Instead, CO2 will be injected into the wine and will carbonate in a pressurised tank.
Invented by the Russians, the continuous method is similar to the tank method but with a complicated production method. The entire process takes about a month to complete with a series of adding yeast and transferring to pressurised tanks a couple of times until the wine is clear.
There are many different types of sparkling wine but here are the 7 most popular ones from different parts of the world:
Champagne is the most famous of all sparkling wines exclusively labelled for and produced in the north of France.
Cava originates from Spain and is the country’s most famous sparkling wine. It can only be made in the Penedés region using the traditional method.
Prosecco sparkling wine hails from Italy. The Charmat method is used when making this sparkling wine.
Lambrusco is an Italian red sparkling wine made from very old grape varieties native to Italy. Its flavour profile includes strawberry, blackberry, raspberry and dark cherry.
Crémant uses Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc grapes for its sparkling wine. This sparkling wine uses the same traditional method as Champagne.
Franciacorta is another Italian sparkling wine that requires a longer ageing period using the traditional method. It uses Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes.
Sekt is a German sparkling wine that uses the Charmat method. The grapes used for making Sekt sparkling wines are Pinot Noir, Gris, Chardonnay, Riesling and other indigenous grape varieties.
Sparkling wine’s sweetness level can be found on the bottle labels. Familiarise yourself with these terms:
- Bone dry
- Slightly acidic
- 0-12 g/L RS
- Bone dry with a hint of sweetness
- Example is Champagne
0-6 g/L RS
- Dry but not as dry as Brut Nature
- Sweetness is absent from the wine
17-32 g/L RS
- Moderately sweet
12-17 g/L RS
Sweeter than Brut or Extra Brut
- Example is Prosecco
32-50 g/L RS
- Perfect to pair with desserts
50+ g/L RS