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Champagne is a sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wines are champagnes.
Some may argue that chic French champagne is the Queen of sparkling wine and are most probably right. It's the french that have produced this wine and is strictly produced in the Campania region. Using a scientific process and lending their knowledge to the “humble” - including ourselves – who decided to put bubbles in their wine sometimes even with extremely modest results. For example, the Asti, the Italian Prosecco and the Spanish Cava.
But how is a sparkling wine created? Using the classic process, the yeast converts the must's sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide which escapes into the atmosphere. On the other hand in the case of sparkling wine the fermentation process takes place at two different times. The second fermentation, is the one that will differentiate the wine and will transform it from a "quite" wine to a sparkling or a semi-sparkling wine. By applying the second fermentation in a closed tank (Charmat Method or Metodo Italiano) traps the carbon dioxide and enriches the wine creating the desired bubbles. In the case of champagne the second fermentation is not applied in a closed tank but inside the bottle itself and this method is called “Methode Champenoise” which gives a special finesse to the Champagne or other wines that are produced using the same method. A third method applied only on cheap, simple wines, is the addition of carbon dioxide into the ready wine.
How to enjoy bubbly?
Cool the champagne or the sparkling wine in a wine cooler or the refrigerator until it reaches a temperature of 8 – 10˚C and enjoy using the classic, tall flute glasses.
The excess pressure exerted in the bottle, from the dissolved carbon dioxide, is as follows:
Quiet wines: less than 1 atmosphere at 20 ˚C.
Semi-sparkling wines: from 1 to 2,5 atmospheres at 20 ˚C.
Sparkling wines: over 2,5 atmospheres at 20 ˚C.