Archive for June, 2012

How Do Those Bubbles Get in There? Part One: The Champagne Method

June 21, 2012

Trap an angel, close them in a bottle of still wine, their last gasp of air will create bubbles.  This was the traditional way to do it before running completely out of the heavenly creatures.  Nowadays there are basically 3 ways to get fizz into a drink…

1. Dissolve carbon dioxide gas into liquid and bottle it under pressure (soda pop, sparkling water).

2.  Add sugar and yeast to a big pressurized and sealed vat of still wine to induce a secondary fermentation then bottle it under pressure (Prosecco and other inexpensive sparkling wine).  Called the Charmat Method.

3.  See below!

Take healthy grapes that you or someone else grew…

Crush them somehow…

Add yeast, whether it’s ambient (living on or around the grapes, that white powder stuff on grapes is yeast) or commercially prepared…

Get the fermentation going, yeast strains eat the sugar in grapes and turns it into alcohol giving off carbon dioxide.  Carbon dioxide escapes into the air…

The resulting wine can rest for a while…

Once the still wine is finished it can be bottled with the addition of…

A mixture of syrupy beet or cane sugar and another yeast strain…

Cover it with a crown cap (like on a soda bottle) to trap the secondary fermentation.  The sugary syrup turns into alcohol and the resulting carbon dioxide gas cannot escape!…

The yeast strains that get turned into alcohol turn into sediment and cloud up the wine.  Sometimes it is removed by the process of Riddling.  This is when bottles are placed into this A-frame thing and gently turned and rotated over a few weeks time to get the sediment into the neck of the bottle…

Sometimes the neck gets quickly dipped into frozen salt water so that the sediment holds together in one nice clump…

Then either by hand or with a machine the crown cap is popped off quickly (Disgorgement) and the sediment shoots out from the trapped gas…

pop…

Sometimes the bottle is quickly topped off with the same wine or a mixture of wine and more sugary syrup stuff (called Dosage) to balance out the dryness…

Then a cork is shoved in…

A little wire cage protects your eyes from getting accidentally poked out…

Then the bubbles get transferred into you making you happy.