Champagne and Sparkling Wine
Sparkling wine and Champagne are essentially the same drink, but the label of "Champagne," exclusively belongs to that wine which has been made from grapes grown in the Champagne region in France. The three grape varieties grown in this region are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier and the process they go through to become champagne, known as the "Traditional Method," is a long and expensive one. After the still wines are tasted and mixed into a final blend, the concoction is bottled with liequeur de tirage, or small mixture of wine, sugar, and yeast. The entire bottle is sealed and set aside for anywhere from around two weeks to around three months to undergo a second fermentation that creates carbon dioxide. After the carbon dioxide has diffused throughout the wine, it is further set aside for any desired amount of time. This step in the champagne making process turns the mixture into remuage and gives the Champagne its fizz. These bottles are then stored in pupitres, tilted at sharp angles. This angle and a regular turning of the bottles at different intervals allows all the settlement to gather in the neck of the bottle. Then, in a process called degorgement, the neck of the bottles are emerged into a solution of chilly brine that forms a block of ice around the sediment. This makes removing the sediment simple, as the ice pops out when the bottles are turned over and uncapped. The bottle is further sweetened with a mixture of wine and sugar called the dosage, and kept corked up until release. This traditional method can take up to a year from start to finish while cheaper methods involving the pumping of carbon dioxide into still wines are less expensive and less time consuming. Other processes, such as the Charmat process, of making sparkling wine involve a period of second fermentation where the yeast is left to react with the wine and create bubbles. This method ferments the wine in large tanks whereas better wines are fermented in the bottles.