Every wine connoisseur at least once in his life has pondered over the history of sparkling wine origin and how it is made.
Champagne is made by the traditional method, also known as Méthode Champenoise, classical method, Champagne method, and other variations. Although Méthode Champenoise is mostly used in France and is the most popular in the eponymous region – Champagne, it is applied for the sparkling wine production in other European countries and all over the world.
History of champagne
There are three different stories telling us how the champagne appeared:
- The first one says that that Champagne was invented by a French monk Don Perignon in 1697. You have probably heard the famous saying he used while tasting champagne for the first time: "Come quickly, I taste the stars!".
- According to the second belief, the process of making Champagne was discovered in 1662 by an English scientist named Christopher Merret. He was the first one who described on paper the ‘méthode champenoise’, and it happened about 30 years before Don Perignon began his experiments.
- On the other hand, Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger also claims that Benedictines were the ones who should be associated with the production of the beverage.
According to this story, they supplied the British with red and white wines from the northeastern region of Champagne. Somehow the British forgot inexpensive white wines on London docks, the wines cooled down, and it caused them the 2d fermentation. And the "mistake", according to Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, led to a great invention - champagne.
However, the French and British have not yet agreed on which country invented the traditional method.
The Champagne region has perfect conditions for growing grapes, and this is caused by historical preconditions. 245 million years ago a prehistoric sea was on the site of modern Champagne region. The fossilized remains of sea creatures left since then, have turned into chalk, which contains just the right amount of water. Due to the chalk the vines do not dry out, and thus it creates ideal conditions for growing grapes.
There are 8 steps to be followed while making wine by the traditional method
- The first stage is harvesting and pressing – it does not matter, still or sparkling wine is going to be made after all, firstly we should harvest the grapes. According to the recipe of the traditional method, it should be harvested a bit earlier than usual, during the period when the grapes contain lower sugar level and higher acid level. However, this does not apply to the production of Rose champagne. After harvesting the grapes, you need to quickly move on to the stage of pressing.
The juice obtained after the first extraction is called Cuvée and is considered the highest quality.
- The first fermentation – the stage when dry and acidic still wine is created. Firstly, the juice should be placed in a stainless steel or wooden vessel to start the process. One stage of fermentation is not enough to make bubbles and produce champagne, so the second one must also take place.
- Blending or «Assemblage» – this step is about combining wines from different grape varieties and years of production. On this stage a producer decides regarding the type of future champagne – is it going to be a Vintage wine or Non-Vintage one. For a Vintage wine production, all the grapes must be harvested in the same year, but not necessarily on the same plantation. A combination of different grape varieties is also possible. The wine is called Non-Vintage (NV) If a grape juice from previous years is also added to champagne.
- The second fermentation – the wine created on the previous stage is bottled together with the addition of sugar and Then the bottle is closed with a crown cap, and the yeast eats the sugar for about 3 weeks. It causes a second fermentation, which in turn increases the alcohol content and produces carbon dioxide. As carbon dioxide cannot come out of the bottle, it turns the still wine into sparkling, producing the necessary bubbles.
Important! While ageing bottles must be rotated regularly.
- Ageing of Lees – after the yeast has eaten all the sugar, it dies and becomes Lees. The Lees stay in a bottle for a certain period up to winemakers and give different flavors to the classic champagne - toasted, nutty, or yeasty notes. The sediment can be left in the bottle for 2 years or do not be removed for 6 years. The longer it remains in the sparkling wine, the more noticeable will be the taste of champagne. Bubbles also become smaller in time, which is a hallmark of the sparkling wine quality.
- Riddling – time to remove the Lees from the bottle. Firstly, place the bottle at an angle of 90 degrees, this allows the Lees to lie on the side of the bottle. Each day, the bottle is riddled until it reaches an angle of 180 degrees. Due to this process, the Lees is collected in the neck of the bottle, after which the neck is to be frozen, you remove the crown cap and take off the Lees.
Most winemakers remove the sediment, but sometimes they also decide to leave it. If the Lees persist, it may create a cloudy effect in the glass. There are two ways to drink champagne in this case - in a transparent form, allowing the sediment to settle to the bottom of the bottle, or mixing the sediment of the bottle in small or large quantities. This will change the taste of the champagne and allow you to get at least two different flavors from one bottle.
- Dosage – after the sediment has absorbed part of the champagne or sparkling wine, you need to quickly fill the bottle to the right amount of liquid, adding Cuvée.
This is also a moment for winemakers to decide whether to add more sugar, and if so, how much. This will determine how sweet the champagne is going to be.
- Ageing – the last step in the production of champagne. The bottle is finally corked and the wirehood is fixed. This is followed by an equally important stage - sending the bottle for decoration.
Undoubtedly, taste is one of the most important characteristics of quality champagne. However, for the customer to pay attention to your bottle of sparkling wine among a few competing products, you need to take care of its decoration.
JSC Technologia offers ample opportunities in the manufacture of champagne capsules
We know well what a perfectly decorated bottle of champagne should look like, because we have 20 years of experience in the production of capsules for every taste with a modern design.
The main elements to pay attention to when creating a champagne capsule:
- Skirt and top-disk decorations – we create a unique design using the techniques of flexographic printing, rotogravure, stamping, embossing and special inks printing;
- Use of space-ring, longitudinal canals and ventilation openings;
- We offer large, small or pointed medallions for the special decoration of capsules and reducing the cost of using a throat label;
- Opening devices – perforation or tear-off tape;
- Embossing – decoration in the form of a large, small rhomb or orange skin, individual embossing of capsules.
JSC Technologia produces material for capsules on its own, so using different types of materials, we can meet the requirements of winemakers focused on economic mass production, and those who work on an exclusive special drink.
Recently, JSC Technology has begun to use biological polyethylene in the material for capsules, which comes from renewable sources. It allows our customers to use more environmentally friendly solution.
We offer champagne capsules for bottles with a volume of 0.2 to 9 liters with a wide range of sizes, which allows you to stably perform bottling and decorate the bottle more aesthetically.
Contact our managers in any convenient way, and they will help you choose the best capsule for sparkling wine.