Do you ever find yourself at a party or gathering with a glass of champagne in hand, watching, mesmerized by the stream of bubbles racing toward the top? But where do those millions of tiny bubbles come from? Have you ever wondered how those magical sparkling beads form inside your glass and give Champagne its iconic glittering quality?
We may not realize it, but there’s a unique process behind every bottle of sparkling wine we enjoy. So if you’re curious about how your bubbly comes alive each time you pop that cork, read on and uncover all the secrets behind those beautiful glistening bubbles…
How Champagne is Made?
There are 4 methods for making Champagne wine:
The Classic Method
The Classic Method is one of the most traditional and lengthy processes used for producing sparkling wines. It is also known as the Méthode Traditionnelle or Méthode Champenoise.
The Charmat Method
The Charmat Method is a more modernized process for preparing bulk tank sparkling wines. It was created in the early 20th century and is known as the Italian Method or Martinotti-Cellario Process.
The Tank Method
The Tank Method is a simpler version of the Classic Method in which secondary fermentation occurs in large tanks instead of individual bottles. This method is mostly used for making low-cost sparkling wines as it produces larger quantities at a faster rate.
The Carbonation Method is the quickest and most straightforward way to make sparkling wines. It involves injecting carbon dioxide into a still wine to create bubbles. This method is used by many producers for low-cost sparkling wines, as it requires minimal equipment and time.
The process of making Champagne can be divided into 4 main stages: fermentation, blending, secondary fermentation, and maturation.
Fermentation: This is the first stage of the production process, where grapes must be fermented to form wine. During this stage, yeast enzymes convert sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
Blending: This is where the winemaker uses a blend of different wines to create the Champagne. The winemaker decides which base wines and what proportion to use, depending on the desired characteristics of the final product.
Secondary Fermentation: After blending, a second fermentation process is triggered by adding a special yeast called liqueur de tirage. This produces carbon dioxide, which dissolves in the wine, creating tiny bubbles that give it its iconic sparkling quality.
Maturation: This stage is where the Champagne is aged in either stainless steel vats or bottles. During this process, the flavors and aromas of the Champagne are enhanced, as well as its sparkling quality.
After these 4 steps, the dead yeast cells are removed from the bottles by turning them upside down in a process called riddling or remuage. The purpose is to collect the sediment at the neck of the bottle and make sure that only clear and sparkling Champagne remains.
Finally, a small amount of liqueur d’expedition is added to give it its sweetness. So, the bottles are corked and labeled before being sold.
Where do Champagne Bubbles Come From?
As mentioned above, the bubbles in Champagne are created during the secondary fermentation process. As the liqueur de tirage is added to the base wine, it triggers a secondary fermentation where yeast produces carbon dioxide, which dissolves into the liquid and forms tiny bubbles.
These microscopic bubbles rise to the top of the bottle or glass due to their lower density than the liquid itself, creating that iconic sparkling effect we all know and love!
Champagne is a unique and amazing sparkling wine that many have enjoyed throughout the centuries. Its production process is complex and intricate, but it certainly pays off when you enjoy a glass of bubbly on special occasions! By understanding how Champagne is made and where its bubbles come from, we can truly appreciate this great beverage for what it really is: liquid happiness in a bottle.