A Sparkling New Year: Tips from Barrel Thief on Bubbly
R&B singer Trey Songz pops champagne because he’s “got that dough,” Marilyn Monroe bathed in it (it took 350 bottles to fill up the tub!) and for the rest of the world, we sip the bubbly stuff to celebrate the New Year.
While sparkling wine can only be called “champagne” if it’s produced in the Champagne region of France, champagne lovers can still sip on some great varieties of sparkling wine from across the world, from Spain to California. Good thing too because if I wanted to play Marilyn for a day and get ready for work in a champagne sponge bath, I’d have skip the Dom Pérignon and opt for some really cheap Prosecco because Ms. Monroe was a few tax brackets higher than I am today.
To get the scoop on the process behind the production of sparkling wine and to arm you with some interesting facts for your New Year’s party, I chatted with Booth Hardy at the Richmond-owned Barrel Thief.
How is it made? The traditional method of sparkling wine production involves a two-part fermentation process. The first fermentation produces wine, then winemakers add sugar and yeast to encourage the second fermentation, which results in the bubbles everyone loves – bottles are sealed with a temporary cap to prevent any leaks.
Along with bubbles, dead yeast is created, which is removed by putting the bottles on riddling racks. Every week, the bottles are shook and hung at different angles, so the yeast compiles at the neck of the bottle.
After the yeast is settled, winemakers use a process called disgorgement, which involves flash freezing the neck of the bottle in a brine solution. Finally, they pop the cork out, which ejects the yeast, quickly placing their finger over the top to prevent champagne from escaping. Voila! The bottle is corked and you have sparkling wine. Understand?
That was the best textual explanation I could muster, check out this video on YouTube for more info (or take a class with Booth at the Barrel Thief!).
Also helpful to know: Brut is a measurement of dryness and depends on how much sugar is added to the sparkling wine. The scale of dryness can be somewhat confusing, so pay attention.
From driest to the non-driest: Brut Natural, Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Dry, Sec, Demi-Sec, Doux. And, last fact for you, sparkling wine is made from three main grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Why doesn’t champagne turn red from the Pinot Noir grape? Wines are colored by the skin, not the juice.
Now that you’re a sparkling wine aficionado, you need some purchase suggestions! Booth recommended the following bottles in a variety of price ranges to impress your guests on December 31: Pierre Peters’ Champagne ($65), Cremant du Jura ($24) and M. Lawrence’s Sex ($18 and definitely a conversation piece).
Happy New Year! I’ll drink with you in 2010. Cheers!
Have a glass of wine Out of the Box every Wednesday on GayRVA.
By Kristina Headrick Amongst hordes of wine loving Virginians, I was lucky enough to to attend the 6th Annual Wine Expo this past Saturday. Hosted at the massive Greater Richmond Convention Center, the event benefited FeedMore, Central Virginia’s core hunger relief organization. More than a collection of wineries, the event featured vendors selling specialty foods, art, [...]February 26, 2013
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