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Behind the bubbles

Say sparkling and you think bubbles—and fun. Sparkling wines contain a carbon dioxide concentration so strong they fizz when you open the bottle.

The different methods of carbonating sparkling wine

The following table describes the principal methods of bottling sparkling wines.

 

Traditional method (also named Champenoise)

When alcoholic fermentation is complete, the wine is bottled. Sugar and yeast are added to it to begin a second fermentation. The carbon dioxide they create remains in the bottle.

 

This method creates wines of great elegance with a fine and persistent bubble. Champagnes, Crémants (Loire, Bourgogne, Alsace, Jura, Bordeaux, de Die, de Limoux) and Cavas are made this way.

 

Rural or ancestral method

This involves interrupting fermentation in the vat to complete it in the bottle. The sugar remaining produces carbon dioxide that is imprisoned in the bottle.

 

The Clairette de Die (Dioise method) and the Blanquette de Limoux (ancestral method and Gaillac sparkling – Gaillac method) are made this way.

 

Closed tank method

Sugar and yeast are added to wine, triggering a second fermentation. This time it doesn’t occur in the bottle, but in hermetically sealed tanks that retain the carbon dioxide.

 

Carbonation method

Addition of carbon dioxide (CO2) to a dry or sweet wine in the bottle or closed tank. A cheaper method, but one with less elegant results.

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Did you know?

Champagne is a sparkling wine produced in the region of Champagne.

Any other producing regions can use the same grape varieties as Champagne, but not one can recreate the particular climatic conditions of the Champagne region.