If you think bubbly means big bucks, think again. When adding some sparkle to the holidays, it’s not necessary to spend all your Christmas cash. Sparkling wines can be found in a range of prices, with many festive varieties priced at $20 or less. How they are priced has a lot to do with how they are made. And that leads us to ask: How do they get those bubbles into a bottle?
The short answer: secondary fermentation. Sparkling wines begin much in the same way as white wines, but at the point at which white wine is bottled and sold, sparkling wine undergoes secondary fermentation with the addition of yeast and sugar. For higher-priced sparklers such as Champagne and cava, the subsequent secondary fermentation and aging occur in wine bottles in accordance with the méthode Champenoise. Instead of using bottles, vintners of prosecco and other more value-priced wines use stainless steel tanks to contain the buildup of carbon dioxide during secondary fermentation.
The cool thing is you can actually taste and see the difference in the final bottle of bubbly. Bottle-aged sparklers generally taste more nutty and yeasty and have tinier bubbles. Tank-aged wines are usually fruitier and can have large, bursting bubbles (although careful crafting in tanks can also produce tiny bubbles). All bubbles are a result of the carbon dioxide produced during secondary fermentation.
Value-priced sparklers can be found around the globe. Quality quaffs are available from cold climates like Germany, Austria and New York state, as well as from warm locales such as Australia and New Mexico. Three of our current favorites are: Read more