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All About The Bubbles

by Jamie Foster

From the February 2004 VinSenses Newsletter

All About the Bubbles

Early on, when we used dish detergent instead of Mr. Bubbles
for our bubble baths, I realized that not all bubbles are created
equal. In the world of sparkling wine, the same holds true, all
bubbles are not created equal. There is more than one way to get
the bubble in the bottle.

One of the by-products of winemaking is carbon dioxide. When
the carbon dioxide is not released, bubbles form under pressure
in the wine producing sparkling wine. The most popular sparkling
wine, Champagne, is produced using the Traditional Method. Sugar
and yeast are added to the base wine and the wine undergoes a
second fermentation in the bottle.

The wine is aged on the lees,
dead yeast, and then the lees are removed through the processes
of riddling and disgorgement. Riddling is the labor-intensive
task of slight turns of the bottle to slowly move the lees to the
neck. Disgorgement uses the built up pressure to release the
lees. Think pop. The bottle is then topped off with a wine and
sugar mixture called dosage. Lastly, the wine is corked under

Alternatively, sparkling wine can undergo the secondary
fermentation in a pressurized tank. This occurs in the Charmat
method where the lees are removed prior to the wine being
transferred to bottles. In the transversage method all steps used
in the Traditional Method are taken up to adding the dosage.
After disgorgement, the wine is placed in a tank under pressure,
dosage is added, and the wine is then transferred to specially
sized bottles. In the transfer method the wine goes through the
secondary fermentation in the bottle and is then placed in the
tank, the lees are removed, and the wine is bottled.

You might ask why is this important. It is important because
it affects the price and quality of the sparkling wine. With this
knowledge you will be able to make more informed purchases. You
will be amazed at the choices you can make once you know about
the bubbles.

Now try to solve this puzzle.

Copyright © 2004 Vin Strategies, LLC All rights reserved.

About the Author

Jamie Foster - Jamie Foster contributes to monthly newsletter Wine Tips 24x7 and her articles have appeared in Annapolis magazines. Jamie has been a wine judge and guest on Washington Full Circle. She has been awarded the Advanced Certificate in Wines, Spirits and Oth