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How Does Wine Get Bubbles?
WATCH on YouTube.
Explore effervescence in wine tasting in this short introduction to sparkling wine.
We’ll start with a lesson on how sparkling wine is made and the differences between classic method wines like Champagne and tank method wines like Prosecco. Wine of the day is a Prosecco Treviso DOC Brut.
Wine of the Day
Adami Garbel Brut Prosecco
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Drink wine along with me, Annie, and learn to engage all of your senses in a powerful new way. SUBSCRIBE to the channel to follow along.
Describe Sparkling Wine
On Day 5 we’ll talk about how to observe and describe sparkling wines and what their appearance can tell you about where the wines came from, what they will smell and taste like, and how they will feel.
Sparkling Wine and Food
We’ll also touch briefly on how to pair sparkling wines and food. Read more about Champagne and food pairing here!
There is a world of sparkling wine out there to discover!
Bubble Consistency in Wine – DAY 5
Scent: Pears + Apples
Cork explosion! Hold on tight, we are popping some bubbly today! Are you ready to learn more about sparkling wines?
Welcome back to DiVino Wine School! I’m Annie, certified sommelier, and your guide on the multisensory experience that is wine tasting.
It’s Day FIVE, feeling alive! And things are about to get fizzy. Today is all about bubbles. Or Effervescence as we call it.
Day 5: Effervescence in Wine Tasting
If you’re excited about today, shoot me a comment like “Pop my bubbly” down below! Or let me know what you’re drinking today or your favorite go-to sparkling wine.
Before we get started, today I brought pears and apples to smell.
This fruit note shows up in a lot of white wines, including the one we’re tasting today… Remember, do what you’ve got to do get lock in that scent memory. Cut it in half, take a bit. And make an association.
Scent is memory.
If you don’t have any fresh pears, to you remember those little clear plastic trays from the school cafeteria where they would give you a “serving” of fruit or vegetables?
My absolute earliest memory of pears is that sweet Bartlett pear that was so ripe it melted in your mouth.
So we talked about color and in the last two episodes, and what that can tell you about the grape varieties, wine-growing and wine-making, and therefore what to expect in your nose and in your mouth, when you finally get to stop LOOKING and start tasting.
I brought something bubbly today, an easy-breezy bottle of Prosecco.
wine name/winery etc.
You can use whatever you want for this lesson, or watch, listen and go grab a bottle later to test your skills, and see what you remember from, the last couple of episodes.
Remember you can enroll for free to find out in advance what we’re drinking and get a copy of the class notes. And of course, if you subscribe to this channel, you’ll get an alert whenever a new video comes out.
In the last episode we said that more intense shades of color generally promise more intense aromas.
Along with color, what you see in consistency directly corresponds to how the wine will smell and taste and feel. What does consistency mean in the context of wine tasting?
Think of when you use the word normally. I see it a lot in cooking and baking for sauces or cookie dough. It’s a way of describing how liquids hold themselves together – density, viscosity, and even the texture: roughness or smoothness, and effervescence, which we are focusing on today.
Consistency refers to how liquids hold themselves together.
First we look at the color, and we also look at how compact or clear it is, how it moves in the glass, is it still or bubbly. And if it’s bubbly how big are the bubbles and how long do they last?
Is it bubbly or still. How big are the bubbles? How long do they last?
Going back to chemistry, the two main byproducts of fermentation are alcohol and carbon dioxide. For still wines, the fermentation takes place in large, open-top containers so that the C02 can escape. If you put a lid on it, pressure starts to build.
If you stop there, this is called the CHARMAT method, and it is used for less expensive sparkling wines like Prosecco. This process creates small to medium-sized bubbles that burst and disappear fairly quickly after you open the bottle.
Like this Prosecco for example. Check out the bubbles in here.
Also, give it a good sniff. Anyone smell pears? You might smell apples too. These are very common aromas for Glera, the grape used to make Prosecco.
Apple & Pear are distinctive notes of Prosecco.
In the case of Champenoise-style wines, like Champagne, Cava, Italian Metodo Classico, and Cremant, the wine is bottled with enough yeast to restart fermentation causing even more pressure.
Higher pressure in a smaller container causes much smaller bubbles.
When you finally do open the bottle they last much longer, as they crowd to the surface and release CO2.
When you tip your glass to the side and look at the bubbles check out their size, how many are there, do they stick round or do they disappear?
Alcoholic fermentation happens when yeast feeds on sugar.
Science tells us that yeast eats sugar.
So basic science tells us that the more fermentation occurs, the less sugar remains.
As a very general rule, you can expect something lower in pressure, like Prosecco, to be a little sweeter and silkier than Champagne, which is very dry and crisp.
There are plenty of exceptions to this rule. When winemakers stop fermentation early, or add sugar and wine back into the bottle, so when you evaluate a sparkling wine for sweetness, your nose and mouth will definitely come into play.
How do I know how sweet or dry it is?
Great question! The label often indicates dryness with words like brut or off dry. If you’re not sure what dry actually means, don’t worry. We’ve got a whole episode dedicated to sugar later in the series. All the more reason to make sure you subscribe.
In general, smaller, tighter bubbles indicate extra yeast and extra fermentation, and all the aromas that come along with it, like toasted bread, buttery biscuits, nuts and spices.
Champagne notes: Toasted bread crust, buttery biscuits, nuts, and spices
If you don’t know what those things smell like, get out there and make a scent memory before you crack open your next bottle of Champagne. Brunch is an easy place to start!
Don’t forget to leave me your comments and questions in the comment section, and tell me what you are tasting and smelling lately!
Wine is a Language. Learn how to Speak it.