Curiosities about Sparkling Wine

03 JAN 2013
Did you Know?... Sparkling wine is much more than just a drink. One of the most versatile members of the world of wines, sparkling wine makes a great addition to your lunch or dinner and at the same time tastes just as great on its own or even with breakfast!
 In the folllowing lines we would like to share with you some interesting information about this unique beverage, you'll be sure to impress your friends and guests at your next holiday gathering!

For a beverage that comes with the various associations: glamour, sophistication, celebration and class who would have thought the trip to your glass could be so complicated? The classic method also known as champenoise is characterized by its second fermentation done in the bottle. This second fermentation should occur in the same place as the primary fermentation and take at least 6 months.  The dégorgement process can happen, at the earliest, two months after the second fermentation has started.  In this case, the wine would need to continue ageing for four months to meet the six month requirement.

Madame Clicquot, of the well know Vueve Clicquot Champagne, is credited with starting the riddling process because she didn't care for the cloudy appearance of the champagne. By cutting holes in her kitchen table to leave the bottles upright the sediment over time fell to the neck of the bottle. The bottle could be opened, the sediment would pop out because of the pressure of carbon dioxide released in the second fermentation and the now clear sparkling wine could be corked, caged, and sent off to the market.  Modern technology ensures that all bottles receive the same amount of wine but before some bottles would receive less than others, this brought on the foil cover on the top so that consumers couldn't see exactly where the liquid stopped.  The cage is there for protection in case the pressure inside the bottle decides to shoot the cork out!
Here in Portugal, we have a variety of grape varieties that go into the base of our sparklers. These include: Maria gomes, Bical, Cerceal, Cercealinho, Pinot blanc, Baga, Chardonnay, Arinto, and Pinot noir.

Some basics to properly enjoying our Sparkling: Serve between 8ºC and 10ºC and remember the different levels of sweetness to correctly pair with meals. Most of Aliança Sparkling wines are Brut which can have up to 15 grams of residual sugar. They are thought of as dry which makes them great matches for traditional Bairrada dishes such as Leitão.  Sec, semi sec, and doux, are your sweeter sparkling wines.  While the most famous sparkling wines today are coming from Champagne, France, (the only place actually allowed to call their sparkling Champagne) sparkling wine was first made in England many years before it was in France.  The first document discussing the addition of sugar to start a second fermentation was found in London.

While still wines are served in glasses, to allow for room for swirling to release aromas, sparkling wines are served in flutes because as the bubbles rise they bring the aromas right to your nose, no swirling required. Swirling sparkling wines actually causes the aromas to escape too quickly so let the bubbles do the work for you!
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