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Disgorgement of sparkling wine: what it is and what it is used for

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Let’s talk about the disgorgement of sparkling wines, a fundamental procedure for wines produced with the classic method

The classic method, also known as the méthode champenoise (derived from the French region of Champagne), is a sparkling wine production process which consists of inducing two fermentations in the bottle, by the introduction of the liqueur de tirage. The latter is nothing but a mixture added to the base wine, which in turn is made up of wine, cane sugar, selected yeasts and mineral substances.

There are nine wine production phases in the classic method: The creation of new wine, assemblage, bottling, foam grip, refining, riddling, disgorgement, dosing and capping, labelling and ageing.

This method produces wines with a very fine and persistent foam. The characteristics of this type of wine are the delicate, subtle and characteristic aromas that are somewhat reminiscent of yeasts. Their taste remains very fresh, sometimes tart, but overall very fine and delicate.

Of all the phases of the classical method, disgorgement is certainly one of the most important. Let’s see why.

What is disgorgement of sparkling wine?

The disgorgement of sparkling wine is the phase which involves the elimination of the crown cap (crown cap 29 are widely used, but also other measures) as well as the elimination of fermentation residues contained in the bidule. In ancient times, this manoeuvre was practiced by operators who opened the bottles entirely manually (à la volée).

How does the disgorgement of sparkling wine work?

At the time, during this very delicate operation, it was necessary to make sure that the cork stopper was expelled with the fermentation residues attached to the bidule and that, at the same time, the leaks of precious liquid were minimised.

Today, we no longer use disgorgement on the fly, but disgorgement à la glacée, which consists of freezing the neck of the bottle using a solution saturated with salts. To do this today, there are conveyor belts that lead the bottles upside down to the freezing area. Bottles with frozen necks are then rotated 180 degrees, straitening phase, and are uncapped.

Sboccatura dello spumante

In this way, the frozen part, thanks to the pressure present inside the bottle, will be expelled with solid residues due to fermentation.

The age of disgorgement must always be indicated on the bottle, as this allows the consumer to check that the wine has not been on the shelves of bars or supermarkets too long.

In principle, sparkling wines produced according to the classic method must be consumed within 6 to 12 months after the disgorgement date.

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