The Secrets Behind Sparkling Wines

2nd April 2020


Like all other wines, the concept behind the creation of sparkling wines is fermentation. The production of sparkling wines is however considered the most technical, largely due to the complex fermentation process.

It is believed that re-fermentation errors were the reasons behind bubbles in wines in the mid-1500s, but Europeans perfected the art of developing a taste for bubbles, and have been producing sparkling wines since then.

A reaction of providing effervescence when a bottle is opened is the main gist behind sparkling wines, where the style of bubbly is determined by the pressure of the carbonation level.


  • Beady or Perlant wines are those that fall under one atmospheric pressure (14.7 psi).
  • Semi-sparkling wines have between one to 2 and a half atmospheres of pressure (14.7 – 37 psi).
  • Sparkling wines like Champagne and Spumante go above 3 atmospheres of pressure, up to 70 psi.


After a long time, the secrets behind sparkling wines are out, and it has been discovered that there are two methods of production; the traditional, and tank methods.

The traditional method

In the traditional method, the transformation of an ordinary to a sparkling wine takes place inside the bottle. It all starts with picking grapes that have been passed to be more acidic, then dry wine is produced. The brewer then blends a number of base wines together to come up with the ultimate blend of sparkling wine.

Sugars and yeasts are added to the wine for purposes of re-fermentation, then bottled and capped tightly before storing. The reason behind re-fermenting the wine is to increase alcohol and carbon dioxide levels. For as long as the yeasts inside are active, the fermentation process makes the wine cloudy.
Wines are stored to age on their dregs, with Champagne requiring a minimum of 15 months, while cava requires at least 9 months to mature.

Bottles are stored upside down into ice cold liquid which causes freezing of the yeast in the bottle neck. The bottle cap is then popped off briefly to allow the frozen dregs to explode out of the pressurized bottle. Dosage (topping up with sugar) is the final process before corking and labelling of bottles.

The tank method

The tank method is also popularly known as charmat method, where a tank takes the place of a bottle as the fermentation vessel. The process involves adding base wines into a tank, together with tirage, a mixture of sugar and yeast. Sparkling wines made from the tank method have stronger yeasty flavors and much more fresh characters compared to those made using the traditional method.

By virtue of using relatively larger containers, the tank method is common in industrial setups for mass production. Most Italian and French sparkling wine brands are products of this method, and the smoothness is unequalled.

Now, before you pop the Champagne, you know the processes involved before it became the gold inside your glass. It takes time to be what it is, so you can be sure the sparkling wine in your hands is not an ordinary drink. It is a treasure!

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