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I'm forever drinking bubbles

Updated: Sep 24, 2020

Very niche English football reference. But seriously, if you don't like bubbles you should at least appreciate how they are made.

We touched on sparkling wine in class but there is so much more to tell. From prosecco to pinozannte, from cremant to cava to champagne. Sparkling wine (the umbrella term) is produced the world over but the methods to get those bubbles in the glass vary hugely.

First up prosecco. A fruity sparkling wine from north-eastern Italy. The cheap ones can be made immensely better by adding a splash of Aperol. The good ones are... often hard to find in Canada. Prosecco is made using the tank method. This means that the still base wine is placed in a sealed tank and yeast, sugar and nutrients are added. The second fermentation (when the yeast eats the sugar) produces c02 bubbles which are trapped in the tank and dissolve into the wine. The wine is then bottled under pressure to keep those bubbles in there. Tip: Don't saber a prosecco bottle. They're not always strong enough.

Next up Champagne, Cava and Cremant. All made using the traditional method which involves riddling, disgorgement and dosage. All very exciting. The still base wine is made to the desired taste of the producer and bottled. But before the top goes on they add the liqueur de tirage (wine, yeast, sugar and nutrients). Like with prosecco, this causes a second fermentation but this time in the bottle. The C02 bubbles are trapped and the sparkling wine is left to age on the dead yeast cells (a good thing) to create bready and biscuity flavours. We don't want these dead yeast cells in our glass so a riddler slowly turns the bottles upside down so they all fall to the top(!) and can be removed before the cork goes in. The electronic alternative to a riddler is called a gyropalette (still quite a fun word). Once the sparkling wine is sufficiently aged, the neck of the bottle is frozen and the dead cells disgorged. The bottle is then filled up with dosage, a mix of wine and sugar which is helps balance the acidity of the wine. Then the cork goes in, obviously.

Finally, soda stream sparkling. This legitimately exists in the wine world but they call it carbonation. You basically inject c02 into a still wine and hey presto, you've got bubbles. If you want to try this at home pick a wine that is strong in flavour and slightly on the sweet side. What can go wrong?

Stay tuned for parts 1,2,3,4 and 5 on sparkling wine. I've barely scratched the surface.

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