Tout savoir sur les vins effervescents

Everything you need to know about sparkling wines

Often invited to festive tables, sparkling wine is synonymous with celebration. During a romantic dinner or a vernissage, bubbles can also have a symbolism of elegance and refinement. However, not all sparkling wines are alike. Let's discover the characteristics of each sparkling wine.

Sparkling wine: what is it?

A sparkling wine is a wine whose alcoholic fermentation has generated an overpressure of carbon dioxide (carbon dioxide). This CO2 then remains in the form of a bubble in the wine, thanks to the completely hermetic closure of the bottle. It can only be evacuated when the bottle of wine is uncorked.

To ensure optimal closure of the wine bottle, winemakers use a mushroom-shaped cork , which is itself retained by a muzzle. This type of cork is regulated, but does not concern small bottles of 20 cl or less.

In France, the most famous sparkling wines are Crémant du Jura, Crémant de Loire, Crémant d'Alsace, Crémant de Limoux, Crémant de Bourgogne, Saumur brut, Clairette de Die, and of course, Champagne. .

Sparkling wine, sparkling wine and sparkling wine: what are the differences?

The sparkling wine category contains 3 types of wine, each of which has its own particularities:

  • Sparkling wines : their sulfur dioxide content offers a pressure greater than 3 bars. At the opening of the bottle, the foam and the small bubbles are very numerous (more than 4 grams of CO2 per litre);
  • Sparkling wines : carbon dioxide is between 1 and 2.5 bars of pressure. The formation of bubbles is consistent, but they stay less long in the mouth (2 to 4 grams of CO2 per liter);
  • Sparkling wines , or pearl wines: they are very little effervescent, because they are bottled before degassing (1 to 2 grams of CO2 per litre).

The economic weight and popularity of sparkling wine

Like still wines, sparkling wines are experiencing growing worldwide success. In 2012, nearly 2.5 billion bottles were produced, representing 7% of world wine production. The production of these sparkling wines is mainly done in Europe, and is concentrated in 3 countries:

  • France is the leading sparkling wine producing country in the world , with 640 million bottles, half of which represent Champagne wines;
  • Italy is the world's second largest producer, with 380 million bottles;
  • Germany occupies third place on the podium, with 330 million bottles.

The 4 main sparkling wines

As we have seen, there are mainly 3 main categories of sparkling wines: sparkling wines, sparkling wines and pearl wines. Let's go into the details by discovering the particularities of these main wines .

Sparkling wine (VM)

Produced in an airtight container, sparkling wines have a few particularities:

  • They are made from a wine with an alcoholic strength by volume of at least 8.5% or from grape must;
  • For the second fermentation, we generally add a little liqueur detirage (sugar, wine and riddling additive) to a still wine;
  • Their real alcoholic strength by volume must be at least 9.5%;
  • The overpressure is 3 bars minimum at 20°C;
  • There are no minimum aging limits before marketing.

Quality sparkling wine (VMQ)

Quality sparkling wines are classic sparkling wines, to which some specificities have been added:

  • The grape must or the wine from which it comes must have an alcoholic strength by volume of at least 9%;
  • The actual alcoholic strength by volume must be at least 9.5%;
  • The overpressure must be at least 3.5 bars at 20°C;
  • The contact time with the yeasts must be at least 90 days (or 30 days if the tank has a stirring device);
  • The aging period is set at a minimum of 9 months (6 months in closed vats).

Special case: there are also quality sparkling wines of the aromatic type , which come from grape musts of defined grape varieties, such as Mauzac, Muscat, Gamay and Clairette.

Quality sparkling wines produced in a specific region (VMQPRD)

It may seem long and pompous, but the designation of " quality sparkling wine produced in a specific region " is a terminology officially imposed by European regulations. The greatest representative of this category is undoubtedly Champagne. It must then be produced in a defined appellation area , and comply with its specifications. It is distinguished from other sparkling wines by unique characteristics, in particular the actual alcoholic strength by volume must be at least 10%. For the rest, its real alcoholic strength by volume, its overpressure and its aging time are the same as for quality sparkling wines.

The special case of crémant

The denomination of "crémant" complies with European standards. It is a VMQPRD rosé or white wine made under special conditions. These conditions vary by country, but some are common to all:

  • Obligation of manual harvesting;
  • Pressing yield limited to 100 liters of must for 150 kg of whole harvest;
  • Aging time of at least 9 months;
  • Sugar content of 50 grams per liter maximum.

In France, there are 7 traditional method crémants : Crémant d'Alsace, Crémant de Bordeaux, Crémant de Bourgogne, Crémant de Die, Crémant de Limoux, Crémant du Jura and Crémant de Loire.

The different types of sparkling wines

If you observe a bubble wine label, you will see that it has a special mention that gives you information on the sugar content provided by the expedition liqueur:

  • Brut nature , between 0 and 3 grams of residual sugar per litre;
  • Extra brut , between 0 and 6 grams of residual sugar per litre;
  • Brut , between 0 and 12 grams of sugar per litre;
  • Extra-dry , between 12 and 17 grams of sugar per litre;
  • Dry , between 17 and 32 grams of sugar per litre;
  • Demi-sec , between 32 and 50 grams of sugar per litre;
  • Sweet , more than 50 grams of sugar per litre.

How are sparkling wines made?

The production of sparkling wine does not respond to a single unique technique. Indeed, each winemaker can decide to opt for one of the 5 methods of making sparkling wine.

The traditional method

The traditional method is imposed on all producers of sparkling wines and crémants. In Italy it is called metodo classico , in Spain it is called cava . It must follow 3 steps:

  • The vinification of a still wine;
  • The foaming;
  • Breeding on slats.

The Champagne method

The Champagne method uses the same process as the traditional method, to which is added a second fermentation in the bottle. This particular technique is mandatory for the production of Champagne wines.

The ancestral method

Also called rural method, or artisanal method depending on the region, the ancestral method represents the original technique for making sparkling wines. It uses spontaneous fermentation. Today, this type of vinification is lost, because it is very difficult to master. The ancestral method is still used in certain wine-growing regions, such as Cerdon, Bugey, Limoux, or even Gaillac.

The dioise method

The dioise method is the manufacturing technique used for Clairette de Die. Its particularity is to empty the bottles cold after the fermentation, in order to filter the yeasts. Furthermore, no addition of dosage liquor is tolerated.

The closed tank method

Also known as the Charmat method , named after its inventor, the closed vat method consists of making the foaming in a pressure tank, unlike the Champagne method or the ancestral method, where the foaming is done in the bottle.

Sparkling wines from our estates

If you like the tingling sensation of fine bubbles on the tongue and the freshness of Provence wines, we offer you a selection of our best rosé or white sparkling wines .

  • Harlot, sparkling white brut : this English white sparkling wine will seduce you, with its fine, energetic bubbles. Made using the Charmat method, it has notes of fruit (apricot and pear), as well as aromas of elderflower;
  • Harlot, sparkling rosé brut : one of our best sparkling rosé wines, this cuvée from England offers beautiful bubbles full of energy, and aromas of various fruits (strawberry, red apple and pear);
  • Silver Reign, sparkling white : this English white sparkling wine, made from Champagne white grape varieties, is produced in the Kent wine region. We discover floral notes and fruity aromas (hedges, elderflower, apricot and pear);
  • Berne brut nature, sparkling rosé : produced in the wine region of Provence , this sparkling rosé wine offers delicate aromas of small red fruits and Granny apple, and releases fine ephemeral bubbles.

Sparkling wines include many types of wines that are always very pleasant to taste. If you like fresh and tasty wines, visit our online store to enjoy our selection of sparkling wines .

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