How Sparkling Wine is Made

Sparkling wine is tricky to make.

Champagne sparkling away.

Sparkling wines are an amazing product of fermentation. They must be made with utmost care not only for the sake of the wine but also for the well being of the wine maker.

riddling

Riddling rack used to move sediment to the closure for disgorgement.

Taking a still wine in the bottle and then adding sugar, then yeast, and then capping can lead to some significant pressures building up in those glass bottles. Pressurized glass is a recipe for danger if you don’t have the hang of how sparkling winemaking is done.

This podcast episode will show you how sparkling wines are made and we’ll also discuss how to stay safe should you decide to give it a try.

Questions Answered

  1. I was supposed to have racked already. Should I wait until fermentation is over?
  2. My watermelon wines smell like rotting watermelon fields. What’s going on?
  3. Should I not have degassed my right before bottling?

Resources & Products Mentioned

Photo of riddling rack by Manikom (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo of sparkling wine by Andrea Parrish – Geyer [CC-ND-2.0]

  • Stephen Boland

    I will soon be making a Chenin Blanc from a kit. When this is ready to bottle, I intend on racking 2 liters of this into a used diet coke bottle and carbonating from a CO2 tank by attaching a Carbonator cap to the top. While this certainly won’t be anything close to traditional, I feel it will suit my needs great and will be a fun learning experience.

    What grape varieties would you most recommend for making sparkling wine?

    • Stephen, this sounds like a great experiment. In fact I know of a winery here in Colorado that recently did the same thing just for fun and really enjoyed the results.

      Just about any varietal can be made into a sparkler. Of course there is Chardonnay but most can and are made into sparklers. This Wikipedia article gives details on what varietals are typically used in France: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sparkling_wine

      Also, I know that they make a sparkling Shiraz in Australia that is supposed to be great. So it doesn’t have to be just white wines or sweet wines. Dry reds can be good too.

      Please do share your results as this sound like fun.

      Cheers! -Matt