wine & brandy industry information

About Bubbly Wine

Perlé and sparkling wines differ from other wines because it has a sparkling appearance due to the carbon dioxide in the wine. The concentration of carbon dioxide will determine whether the wine is classified as a Perlé or sparkling wine with the latter having the higher concentration. The concentration is usually measured in pressure and according to local regulations the pressure in a sparkling wine must be more than 300 kilopascal, which is approximately 1.5 times the pressure of a car tyre.

bubbly-wine-1
1. Harvest

Selected white or red grapes, containing no diseases, are picked manually at optimal ripeness, which may differ depending on the wine type or style.

bubbly-wine-1
2. destemming

The grapes are delivered at the cellar where it is destalked …

bubbly-wine-1
3. crushing

… and the berries are crushed.

bubbly-wine-1
4. juice clarification

Additives like sulphur dioxide and enzymes are added to ensure a sound fermentation and enhance the quality of the final wine. The pomace are cooled to retain grape flavours before the skins are separated from the juice, unless skin contact is required. Skin contact increases the colour and mouthfeel of the resulting wine. The juice is clarified to remove skin particles and impurities in order to make a delicate premium wine. The separated skins are pressed to recover the remaining juice, which is also clarified to make ordinary wine.

bubbly-wine-1
5. fermentation

The clarified juice is inoculated with pure culture yeast to initiate alcoholic fermentation or left for spontaneous alcoholic fermentation. During the alcoholic fermentation the sugars in the juice are converted to alcohol, carbon dioxide and heat. In order to prevent excessive heat, which can lead to the evaporation of flavours cooling is applied during fermentation.

bubbly-wine-1
6. wine clarification

After completion of fermentation when all the sugars in the juice were converted the wine can be separated from the fermentation lees immediately or left on the lees to add a buttery character to the wine. Necessary additives like sulphur dioxide is added to ensure a sound wine and fining agents are used in combination with filtration to clarify the young wine.

bubbly-wine-1
7. maturing

After the completion of fermentation and during maturation, containers must always been kept full to prevent spoilage of the wine.

bubbly-wine-1
8. blending & stabilisation

Different wines are blended to ensure consistency regarding the type, style and sweetness degree of the wine to be bottled. Sweetness degrees range from dry (without any sugar) to off dry, semi-sweet and sweet natural wines with increasing sugar concentrations. The blended wine is stabilised to prevent any colour, flavour and taste changes or precipitations before it is bottled.

bubbly-wine-1
9A. Carbonation & bottling

Perlé and sparkling wines can be white, rosé or red in colour. The carbon dioxide in the wines can be obtained in different ways. The easiest, cheapest way is to carbonate the wine with carbon dioxide prior to bottling. In this case the gas bubbles will be very loose and big when opening the bottle and will disappear quickly.
Perlé wines are usually drunk at festive occasions and vary from dry to sweet natural in sweetness.

bubbly-wine-1
9B. Carbonation & bottling

The easiest, cheapest way is to carbonate the wine with carbon dioxide prior to bottling. In this case the gas bubbles will be very loose and big when opening the bottle and will disappear quickly.

Another way for sparkling wine will be a secondary fermentation where cane sugar and yeast is added to a white, rosé or red wine. This can be done in a tank or in bottle. Due to the secondary fermentation carbon dioxide will be formed, which will dissolve in the wine. Bottling of the wine is executed under counter pressure and at a low temperature to retain the carbon dioxide in the wine and when the bottled product is opened the gas will be released slowly from the wine to form small bubbles over a long period.

Champagne is the best known sparkling wine in the world and can only be made in the French Champagne area, although the same production method can be applied in any wine country. Sparkling wines made in this way are called Cap Classique, Methode Champenoise or MCC in South Africa. It consists of the addition of cane sugar and yeast into a bottle with a dry base wine, leaving it to ferment in the bottle and the formed carbon dioxide dissolves in the wine. The wine is left in contact with the yeast lees, which add a yeasty character to the wine. The yeast lees are eventually removed by disgorging it from the bottle neck after freezing it. Bottles are topped up before it is closed with a stopper and a wire muselet. These sparkling wines must be sold in the same bottle as used for the secondary fermentation.

Sparkling wines are usually drunk at festive occasions and vary from dry (brut) to sweet (doux) in sweetness.