Sparkling Wines – Production Methods

Sparkling Wines - Production Methods

The “prise de mousse” is the final stage of winemaking that gives sparkling wine its characteristic effervescence. There are several methods for producing sparkling wine, with the traditional method or “Champagne method” being the most widely used. It is important to note, however, that the Champagne AOC only allows wines produced in that region to be called “Champagne” and use the term “méthode champenoise”. For other sparkling wine productions, the traditional method must be referred to. In the past, Champagnes used to use the term “crémant” to refer to semi-pressed Champagnes. However, nowadays, only Champagnes can use the term “méthode champenoise”, which helps protect the designation of origin and the quality of wines produced in this region.

El proceso de elaboración del vino espumoso puede llevarse a cabo mediante siete métodos principales, cada uno de ellos con algunas variaciones. Si bien no es posible determinar con certeza cuál método produce el mejor vino, la mayoría de los expertos concuerdan en que los primeros cuatro métodos, en los cuales la fermentación secundaria se produce en la botella, son generalmente preferibles a los últimos tres.

A continuación, se presenta un resumen las características clave de cada método. Es importante tener en cuenta que cada método puede variar según los distintos productores de vino.

  • Traditional method: also known as the “Champagne method”, this process involves a second fermentation in the bottle, which produces fine bubbles and a creamy texture in the wine. After fermentation, the wine undergoes a “remuage” or “riddling” process to remove sediments before being corked and labeled.
  • Charmat method: also known as the “tank method” or “cuve close”, this process involves a second fermentation in a stainless steel tank instead of in the bottle. Carbon dioxide gas is infused into the wine quickly and efficiently, producing larger bubbles and a fresher, more fruity flavor.
  • Transfer method: similar to the traditional method, the second fermentation takes place in the bottle, but the wine is transferred to a tank after fermentation to remove sediments and then returned to the bottle for final bottling.
  • Ancestral method: also known as the “rural method”, this process involves bottling the wine before fermentation is complete, allowing fermentation to finish in the bottle and produce natural bubbles. The wine is not subjected to “remuage”, so it can be cloudy.
  • Gas injection method: in this process, carbon dioxide gas is infused into the wine after fermentation, instead of allowing it to occur naturally through a second fermentation. This method is fast and inexpensive, but may produce larger bubbles and a less refined flavor.
  • Carbonation method: in this process, the wine is subjected to a carbon dioxide injection similar to that of soft drinks, producing strong effervescence and large bubbles. This method is not considered a legitimate way to produce high-quality sparkling wine.
  • Centrifugation method: this process involves subjecting the wine to a centrifuge to separate the carbon dioxide gas and then infusing the gas back into the wine to create effervescence. Although this method is fast and efficient, it may produce larger bubbles and a less refined flavor than traditional methods.
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