What Makes Champagne Bubble?

Champagne in Flutes: What Makes Champagne Bubble?, GreatPartyRecipes.com

Brace Yourself

In a nutshell, what makes champagne bubble is carbonation. 

If that simple fact bursts your champagne bubble, then take heart. There are three ways to get the bubbles in the bottle, and one is a long, slow, traditional, romantic method. 

Why Does Champagne Bubble?

Before the bubbles, champagne is just wine; it becomes sparkling wine with the addition of the bubbles.

It all starts after the first fermentation of the wine. Then, one of these three methods is used to put the bubbles in the bottles:

1. Méthode Champenoise: Also called méthode traditionelle.

    This is the oldest and most time-consuming of the three popular methods of carbonation. If it's not made in this way and in Champagne, France, it can't truly be called champagne.

    (See The Difference Between Champagne and Sparkling Wine)

    After the first fermentation, a little yeast and sugar are added to the wine, triggering another fermentation. The bottles are capped at this time with a simple beer-bottle type cap and placed in a riddling rack where they stay for at least 15 months. The bottles are slowly turned almost upside down so that the lees, the fermentation residue, settles in the neck of the bottle.

    The bottle necks are then quick-frozen, freezing the lees. The cap is removed and the lees go flying like a cork. Sounds messy.

    A dosage, a little wine and sugar combo, is now quickly added to the bottles. The bottles are corked and caged, and laid to rest for several more months or even years before they're ready for market. The extra fermentation produces the bubbles naturally, which last a long time after opening.

2. The Tank Method: Also called Charmat or cuve close.

    As in the traditional method, yeast and sugar are added to the wine, not in bottles, but in huge pressurized tanks. And voila! Bubbles. The sparkling wine is then bottled under pressure as well. The result is an affordable sparkling wine with fine, fairly long-lasting bubbles.

3. Bicycle Pump Method:

    This method is as quick and easy as it sounds. Carbon dioxide is pumped into the wine and then it's bottled under pressure, the same way soda pop is carbonated. It produces sparkling wine for the masses, one could say, very inexpensive, with bubbles that don't last very long. But then, perhaps they don't need to.

Understanding what makes champagne bubble is just one good conversation-starter to know about sparkling wines. Read...

Rating Champagne: Champagne and Sparkling Wine Guide

Tips for Opening, Serving and Storing Champagne

Champagne Recipes and Serving Suggestions

Back to Gourmet Food Tutorials like "What Makes Champagne Bubble?"

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