Sparkling wine has been around for a long time, and it was during the 1600s that it became a commodity desired by the wealthy of European society. In the early 1600s, there was vin gris, which was a wine that underwent an unplanned second fermentation as it was being shipped to England.
It wasn’t until the late 1600s in Champagne that the two monks Dom Perignon and Frere Jean Oudart were able to capture the method of making sparkling wine (using reinforced English glass), and it is still the method predominantly used today. Since their discovery there have been additions to the ways to add fizz to a wine, and all are able to create amazing beverages immortalised as symbols of celebrations.
In order to explore how sparkling wine can be made, here are three examples of different wines, the methods used to create them, and the effect on the wine they produce.
San Leo Asti DOC, NV
Asti does not undergo a second fermentation, unlike the majority of other sparkling wines. Instead, the juice from the Moscato Bianco grapes is placed in a sealed stainless steel tank, which ferments and produces carbon dioxide that is forced to dissolve into the wine giving it its bubbles. These style of wines are sweet, with floral notes, low acidity, and low alcohol, making them perfect when pairings with deserts like a Christmassy trifle.
NV Pruno Nero Dry Modena DOC, Cleto Chiarli
Not all sparkling wine is white or rose! In Italy sparkling red wine made from Lambrusco is a speciality, and fantastic at Christmas time for those festive roast dinners. This style of wine is made by the same method as most prosecco, known as the Tank or Charmat method. In order to make this wine, a wine that has already been fermented once is placed in a large steel tank, and undergoes a second fermentation where the carbon dioxide dissolves into the wine. These wines are more delicate, have some residual sweetness, and do well with being drunk young. This particular sparkling Lambrusco tastes like cranberry sauce in a glass (and we'll be having a bottle with our turkey this year!).
Nyetimber Blanc de Blancs, 2009
This English sparkling wine hailing from Sussex is award winning, and can stand up to most Champagnes - in fact has repeatedly beaten plenty in blind tastings. It is made using the traditional, or Champagne method, with 100% Chardonnay grapes (hence the name, translated as “white from whites”). The traditional method simply consists of putting the wine under a second fermentation inside the bottle itself, and then left on its side for a minimum of 12 months prior to riddling where the bottles are turned slowly to move the dead yeast to the bottom. The final part of the process is disgorgement where the sediment is rapidly frozen, causing the cap to pop and the sediment to leave the bottle. It is then topped up with a dosage (sugar and reserve wine) in order to balance out the sweetness. The bottle can then be stored or release straight away for sale and consumption. These styles of wine have more complex notes to them, and are able to balance sweet and savoury, all the wine creating a wine with a sublime and soft texture, that exudes excellence and celebration.
Pairings hosted our regular Wine Club, on the first Monday of every month, with the theme of Festive Fizz on the 4th of December 2017, tasting these three wines among others. If you're curious about our future events, they can be found here