How do you get the Bubbles into Wine?

by | Mar 14, 2024 | 0 comments

There are two ways to create sparkling wine – Champagne and Charmat methods produce the bubbles, but they differ significantly in terms of production processes, resulting flavours, and overall characteristics.  These differences stem from variations in fermentation, aging, and carbonation techniques, all of which play a vital role in shaping the final product.

Champagne is perhaps the most renowned sparkling wine style globally, hailing from the Champagne region of France.  The traditional method, also known as the méthode champenoise, is employed in its production.  This intricate and time-consuming process involves a secondary fermentation that takes place in the bottle.  After the base wine is created, a mixture of yeast and sugar is added to induce a second fermentation.  This leads to the formation of carbon dioxide, which gets trapped in the bottle, creating those characteristic bubbles.  The bottles are then aged on their lees, allowing for complex flavours to develop over time.  This method imparts a toasty, bready quality and fine, persistent bubbles to the final wine. As a result of this labour-intensive approach, Champagne tends to be more expensive compared to other sparkling wines.  Both the Gonet-Sulcova Blanc de Blancs Champagne and the Silverhand NV English sparkling wine use this traditional method. Our Ridgeview Fitzrovia Sparkling Rose from Sussex is also made in the traditional Method with 18 months of secondary fermentation in the bottle, giving it a beautiful croissant/briouch flavours that champagnes are renowned for.

On the other hand, the Charmat method, also known as the tank method or cuve close, is a more economical and efficient way of producing sparkling wines. I n this technique, the secondary fermentation takes place in large pressurized tanks rather than individual bottles.  The base wine is first created, and then it is transferred to the tank along with a mixture of yeast and sugar.  The fermentation occurs within the tank, and once complete, the wine is filtered and bottled under pressure.  This method is less time-consuming than the traditional method and results in wines with fruitier, fresher characteristics and larger, less persistent bubbles. The Charmat method is often favoured for producing lighter, more approachable sparkling wines that are meant to be enjoyed young and without the prolonged aging associated with Champagne.  Our Silver Reign English sparkling wine from Kent uses this Charmat method to create its magical bubbles.

In terms of flavour profile, Champagne tends to exhibit a greater depth and complexity due to its extended lees aging.  It showcases notes of baked bread, biscuit, and nuanced fruit flavours.  Charmat-produced wines, on the other hand, emphasize primary fruit aromas and flavours, offering a crisp and refreshing experience that is more immediate on the palate.

In conclusion, the differences between Champagne and Charmat lie primarily in their production methods, resulting in distinct taste profiles and characteristics.  Champagne’s traditional method produces wines with a rich, complex, and layered character, while Charmat’s tank method leads to wines that are fruit-forward and lively.  Whether you prefer the elegance of Champagne or the accessibility of Charmat-produced sparkling wines, both styles offer delightful options for various occasions and preferences and Wine Guy on Skye holds sparkling wines to match your taste and budget, and our variety ensures you can match your bubbles to both the amazing views of Waternish and our impressive food and produce.