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Champagne is a popular sparkling white wine of good quality. It is especially served at festive occasions. Champagne is already being produced for centuries, but it was not much wanted because of its bubbles. It became a popular drink since 1688. The grape variety that is used for champagne is the Pinot Noir. This type of grape has a dark skin, but its juice is white. It is important that the skin does not come in contact with the juice to avoid colouring.
Production process of champagne
The Pinot Noir grapes have to be treated carefully. The skins of the grapes may not burst. Directly after picking the grapes the affected and useless grapes are removed to avoid a transfer of color. If transport to the press is necessary this has to happen very carefully. The grapes are pressed on a wooden platform with a wooden pressing plate rotating on top of it. In this way the juice is directly carried off while the skins are left. The undesirable parts of the juice are floating and can be removed.
During the pressing the juice is separated in the first pressing and the following ones. The first juice of the first pressing is fermented separately because it has the highest quality.
The fermentation of both pressings happen the same way. In the first place a culture is added, in this case a culture with saccharmonyces, a yeast that ferments the sugars of the grape itself into alcohol, carbon dioxide (the well-known bubbles) and aromas
. The carbon dioxide remains in the champagne by letting the fermentation take place in closed space. The first fermentation that the juice goes through at a temperature of 18 to 20°C takes several weeks. After this first fermentation the two pressings are mixed until the desired taste is obtained.
The fermented and mixed juice is filled in bottles. Besides that, the first of the two sugar additions is added. This addition consists of a mixture of saccharose with champagne, which is called liquer de tirage. Later in the process another sugar addition is added; the total percentage of the added sugars determines the sweetness of the champagne. The totality of the added percentage of sugar is between the 0,5 and 5%. The bottles are closed with a cork in order that the produced carbon dioxide does not escape. Due to the fermentation there is a lot of pressure on the bottles. This pressure is comparable with the pressure on a tire of a bus.
Aging and second fermentation
After the bottles are filled the bottles with young champagne are aged. During this aging the second fermentation takes place. It is provided by French law that a non-vintage champagne must at least age for a year and vintage champagnes for at least three years. Non-vintage champagnes are champagnes made of grapes of several years; in this case, no year is mentioned on the bottle. Vintage champagnes are champagnes made of grapes from one particular year. In that case, the year of the harvest has been very good; this year is mentioned on the bottle. Vintage champagnes and wines are rather exceptional.
During the aging the bottles are laid horizontally for the largest part of the maturation. The bottles are turned each day 1/8 turn to avoid the influence of dead yeasts on the fermentation process. At the end of the fermentation period the bottles are to mature for a short time in a vertical position so that the sediment comes in the neck of the bottle against the cork.
To be able to remove the sediment from the bottle the neck of the bottle is transported through a freezing liquid. The champagne and the sediment that are in the neck of the bottle are frozen in a fast way. The cork is removed cautiously after which the frozen part can be removed.
Bottling and third fermentation
Thereafter the second sugar addition is added. This addition consists of a mixture of saccharose, wine and brandy, called liquer d’expedition. This percentage of sugar is added for the taste and the percentage of carbon dioxide.
Afterwards, the champagne is ready to be bottled, labeled and packed. As with other alcoholic beverages no storage life is given.
Champagne is a popular sparkling white wine of good quality. It is especially served at festive occasions. Champagne is already being produced for centuries, but it was not much wanted because of its bubbles. It became a popular drink since 1688.... read full description