Sparkling Wines – Champenoise Method (4)

Vinos espumantes - Método Champenoise (4)

During the second fermentation of the wine, only medium, full, or large-sized bottles are used, as other formats are filled with wine that has already fermented. The magnum is the ideal size traditionally used to age champagne.

Currently, sizes starting from the Salomon are considered extravagant and those that are larger than the jeroboam are rare due to being fragile, difficult to handle, and expensive to produce. Bottles larger than magnum are named after biblical kings, with the exception of the sovereign and the primat.

After the disgorgement process in champagne production, a special cork is used to seal the bottle, known as the champagne cork. This cork is composed of two different parts: the head and the body. The head is made of agglomerated cork, which is a more economical material than cork sheets. The body is composed of two cork discs joined together and connected to the head. The body is inserted into the neck of the bottle and comes into contact with the wine, allowing for a hermetic seal of the bottle for the preservation and safe transportation of champagne.
To ensure that the champagne cork is impermeable and easy to insert, it is common to apply a layer of kerosene wax on its surface. Additionally, a circular stamped steel plate is placed on the head of the cork to reinforce it against the high pressure inside the bottle. This plate is called a capsule and is secured under the shoulder of the bottle neck with a wire muzzle. Collectors of these capsules are called placomusophiles. Before being inserted into the bottle, the cork has a cylindrical shape of greater diameter. Once compressed and inserted into the bottle, it adopts the conical shape of the bottle neck, which results in a mushroom shape when uncorked. Finally, the cork regains its original shape and size.
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It is common to make a loud noise when uncorking a bottle of champagne to create a festive atmosphere, also known as “the pop.” However, in formal events such as banquets or high-end venues, proper etiquette dictates that the uncorking should be done as quietly and subtly as possible. The basic steps for opening a bottle are: avoiding shaking the bottle, removing the wire cage, placing the bottle away from guests, and carefully turning the bottle while holding the cork to avoid it popping out forcefully.
Champagne production in France is centered in the cities of Reims and Épernay. Recognized brands such as Moët et Chandon, Mercier, Ruinart, Pommery, Canard-Duchêne, Veuve Clicquot, Bollinger, and Krug have a large production capacity and financial resources that allow them to apply effective export and advertising policies. In addition to these established brands, there are small artisanal champagne producers with limited production capacity, but capable of producing high-quality champagne.
Champagne is widely associated with celebrations and ceremonies. In sports events, it is common to open a large bottle of champagne during the trophy presentation ceremony. The first time champagne was used as a prize was in 1907, in the Beijing to Paris race, where the winner received a single bottle of champagne. Since then, this practice has become a tradition and in 1950, Moët & Chandon gifted its champagne to the winner of the French Grand Prix, held in the Champagne-Ardenne region.
In 1967, Dan Gurney started a tradition of celebrating victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans by spraying champagne on the crowd and other drivers. However, at the 1966 Australian Grand Prix, Graham Hill had already sprayed sparkling wine. When launching a ship, a champagne bottle is usually smashed against the hull to demonstrate its strength, and it is considered a bad omen if the bottle does not break. During New Year celebrations, people often toast with champagne, although other sparkling wines made using the méthode champenoise, such as Spanish cava, can also be used for the same purpose.

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