With its rich history and elevated station in the world of wine, Sparkling enjoys a certain aura of mystery and romance.
Here are some of our favourite facts about this timelessly delightful style.
1. THE DEVIL’S OWN!
Did you know that Champagne first came about by accident? The first sparkling Champagne seems to have been invented by Benedictine monks around 1531, when they mistakenly bottled a wine before its initial fermentation ended.
Dom Perignon was in fact originally instructed by his Abbey superiors to solve the problem of bubbles, as they were considered a fault in the wine – poor-quality glass meant such pressure resulted in bottles exploding – sometimes causing a chain reaction of cellar explosions, leading to the product being called “the devil’s wine”.
2. MERCI, MADAME
One woman above all others is responsible for making Champagne the luxury product it is today.
When she became a widow in 1805, the then 27-year-old Madame Clicquot (also known as Widow (‘Veuve’) Clicquot or “the Grande Dame of Champagne”, took charge of her father-in-law’s business, and in the process changed the world of wine forever.
Not only did she pioneer a new technique that lead to extraordinary improvements in Champagne, known as riddling, she worked tirelessly to promote and popularise it.
3. LETTING THE MAGIC HAPPEN
Sparkling wine is produced through two fermentations. With the traditional method (known in France as Méthode Champenoise), the secondary fermentation happens within the bottle as the wine ages, when added yeast converts sugar to alcohol and releases carbon dioxide – the bubbles in bubbly.
Finally, spent yeast is removed and a ‘dosage’ (a mixture of sugar and wine called liqueur d’expedition) is added.
Brut-style Champagne or Sparkling is created when this mixture only contains a small amount of sugar.
4. HAPPY-GO-LUCKY LIBATION
It may seem like Sparkling wines are to be reserved for special occasions, but let’s be honest – Sparkling is so delicious it would be a shame not to enjoy it whenever the mood strikes, rather than restrict it to parties and toasts.
Especially when you consider the diversity that the style offers.
Sparkling can be made from several grape varieties, resulting in everything from Sparkling whites to Sparkling reds and even Sparkling Rosé. There are almost endless opportunities for you to find a favourite.
5. GLASS WARS – FLUTE v COUPE
If you want to sip Sparkling the old-fashioned way, pour a small amount into a rounded coupe glass rather than filling a tall flute – it is this style of glass that was allegedly modelled on the left breast of the Madame de Pompadour.
Bubbles will escape more quickly, and better reveal the palate of the wine.
Flutes on the other hand are designed to encourage the flow of bubbles, and concentrate the aromas.
Whichever style of glass you choose to use, always hold it by the stem to ensure your Sparkling stays cool.
So there you have it – not only is Sparkling wine utterly intriguing to the tastebuds, it also has a history as tantalising to match. Cheers to that, we say.