• veniviniamici

Sparkling Fantastic-ness

Updated: Jan 14

Dec 10, 2020 Crémant Lecture & Tasting!

Do you want to know the difference between Crémant, Champagne, Prosecco, Cava, and Sparkling wine?

We will put together a clear illustration of all the different types of sparkling wines and put a location to the names.

We will also be taking a deeper dive into the different Crémant regions of France and highlighting some key differences.

*The Fall Wine Bottle Package Included the bottles we will be sampling*

1. Aimery Sparkling Crémant de Limoux Rosé

2. Domaine Fernand Engel Crémant d'Alsace

It is best not to drink on an empty stomach!

Cheese pairings: Brie! So good.

Food: French fries are king. You can skip the rest of the meal, just order fries from McDonalds, Five Guys, and Wendy’s and have a side by side ‘Which fast food fry pairs best with my Crémant”. But seriously, fried chicken, fried potatoes, pizza, macaroni & cheese, breaded fish, Lobster, all good choices.

Glassware: Universal glass or white wine glass. Wine Flute is acceptable but we will discuss the hesitation to recommend it during the lecture

Temperature: Chilled. 1oC is what we typically serve it

Thank you for everyone who attended, you motivate us to keep going.

Click here and register to keep track of your progress now!

By now I'm sure someone in your life has nicely informed you, "to call all sparkling wine 'Champagne' is incorrect because it needs to come from the Champagne region to have that name". This lecture is designed to organize the terms and processes around all sparkling wine created around the world so you'll be super informed! Of course, even I sometimes slip and call a bubbly 'Champagne' and the world still spins, so have a great time and let's learn some awesome stuff about sparkling wine.

This video is FANTASTIC to give you an overview of the whole production process!


Sparkling wine: Wine which has CO2 bubbles infused into the liquid which make a tasty, tingly treat.

Yeast: A micro-organism which interacts with the sugars of wine to produce alcohol. When yeast die, they gain the term 'lees'.

Lees: Dead yeast that stay in contact with the wine to impart flavors (Bread, Brioche) .

Racking: Moving of wine into a clean vessel in a manner which removes the lees

Autolysis: Complex chemical reaction when wine is in contact with lees after fermentation. Imparts a creamy mouthfeel (fuller body), bread like notes, and floral aromas. Capable of reducing astringency of wine by binding tannins.

Sur Lie: "Lees aging" the time in which lees are in contact with wine to allow autolysis. Sur lie effects can start to be noticed at 18months and continue to affect the wine up to 5 years.

Bâttonage: Stirring of lees top help prevent a thick layer of lees forming and promote smoother autolysis. This is performed in the base wine production.

Wine Fault: a chemical effect during the wine process which produces a foul taste or odor. In sparkling production, lees which agglomerate to form 4" clusters or greater start to digest themselves and produce a reducing condition. Improper management of lees develop hydrogen sulfide and mercaptan odors. Clusters can be broken up through bâttonage.

Base Wine: A wine, typically neutral, produced from grapes which undergoes fermentation and typical wine production

Second Fermentation: The addition of sugar and yeast in to a base wine under a pressure controlled environment to produce a sparkling wine

Riddling: Slight rotations in the bottle as well as movement up a riddling rack to allow for slight agitation of the lees from second fermentation

Disgorgement: A process of removing lees of the second fermentation, involving freezing the neck of the bottle.

Dosage: A process of removing lees of the second fermentation, involving freezing the neck of the bottle.

Sabering: Risking shattering the entire bottle for the absolute rush of cleanly breaking the very tip of the champagne bottle off with the cork.

Video showing "Disgorgement" and "Dosage" in a modern facility

Sparkling wine is formed in a process of "second fermentation". This is second fermentation occurs by adding sugar and yeast into a wine and performing a process which allows the yeast to react in a pressure controlled environment. My first real "ah-haha" moment of sparkling wine education came when I learned this process affects a wine which is already formed and could be ready to sell on the market! The "base wine" for second fermentation under-goes typical wine fermentation. Vintners that intend to make sparkling wine try to create a base wine which is neutral in order to allow the autolytic flavors and aromas the most room to show!

Below we talk about the typical processes for sparkling formation. The main takeaway for this is that the pressure of the second fermentation is sealed. During the second fermentation, the yeast will produce CO2 and ethanol. Since the pressure of the vessel containing the wine is sealed, both the CO2 and the ethanol infuse into the wine. This infusion process takes time and that is why all the CO2 does not just escape as soon as the cork is popped!

Top methods of quality sparkling wine.

Traditional Method

Ancestral Method - Pet Nat

Tank Method

Click here for my favorite resource to show the different sparkling methods

Names of wine and their method of formation:

Sparkling Wine's final sweetness is indicated on the bottles from "Brut Nature" to "Doux". Over the course of history, wine making techniques as well as consumer preference has shifted to be drier and drier. It may be confusing because "Brut Nature", "Extra Brut", and "Brut" can all have a level 0g/L of sugar, but this allows for a producer to have consistent labeling even if the wine contained within the bottle fluctuates from year to year.

Each person has a different level at which they will detect sweetness. Typically speaking speaking, most people cannot detect sweetness above 12g/L.

"NV" or "Non-Vintage" may appear on the bottle. These bottles are made from producers that strive to have consistent quality from year to year. They consist of blending various years vintage in order to create consistent quality to the consumer. This is typical for large producers. If you'll notice Moët & Chandon typically is NV. On absolutely exceptional years like 2009 and 2012 they will release a Vintage wine, but these are rare. Moët & Chandon bought the Dom Pérignon label in 1937 and uses this for their prestige cuvée. Not every year has a corresponding Dom release as the vintage is not good enough to warrant its release. And in the truly remarkable vintages, there is both Vintage Moët as well as a Dom release.

Click here, register, and take the quiz to keep track of your progress now!

This is the beta test for our 2021 lecture series! Every month we will have one lecture and a blog post that corresponds to terroir, climate, regions, wine, history, and culture. At the end of every module, take a quiz to keep track of your progress! At the end of the year everyone who receives 8 passing scores will receive a custom 2021 VVA Pin! Wine purchases are not required to participate, but will be available to all to engage with if desired. Please 'subscribe' to our newsletter at the top of to never miss a date!

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