STOPPERS FOR THE FERMENTATION OF BOTTLED WINE: THE CLASSIC METHOD
A sparkling wine obtained with the classic method involves slow fermentation in a bottle which guarantees a fine and persistent foam and a refined taste.
The most important and best-known method of producing sparkling wine is certainly the so-called classic method, which provides a very slow fermentation in the bottle as a fundamental characteristic. This process has very ancient origins, not precisely defined, even if, in oenology, we place its inception around the middle of the 7th century and we attribute the merit of the invention to a Benedictine monk: Dom Pierre Perignon, of Hautvillers Abbey.
As of today, it is still difficult to know if all the credit goes to the French monk or if he was inspired by techniques already used at the time, it is certain that his contribution was fundamental in the birth of the classic method, since he was credited with the introduction of the cork stopper and the experience of adding a sweet syrup and peach flowers to the wine.
But how do you make a sparkling wine with the classic method?
Beyond the historical notions, the classic method (or “à la Champenoise”, from the name of the French region of Champagne) is composed of a few well-defined stages in which the measurements of the crown capplay a primordial role. But let’s proceed in order.
In the classic method, we always start with a still wine, to which a syrup is added with the purpose of fermentation consisting of wine, cane or beet sugar, yeasts and mineral substances. Once obtained, this special mixture, the sparkling wine is bottled and closed with crown caps, whose different sizes and fillings allow it to obtain different and very distinct flavours.
The bottles obtained are then stacked in a horizontal position, in a cellar or in another dark and cool room, to allow the yeasts to ferment the sugar, produce carbon dioxide and ethyl alcohol. The slowness of this process guarantees the fine and persistent foam that characterises all sparkling wines produced with the classic method.
After this delicate and decisive phase, the bottles are placed on inclined trestles which allow the dead yeasts and other solid substances to be eliminated by concentrating under the crown cap. These substances are then expelled through an operation called disgorgement.
This phase therefore involves the elimination of the crown cap as well as the fermentation residues contained in its bidule, that is to say the plastic part placed under the crown cap.
The importance of the crown cap in the fermentation phase
The stopper is not just the seal of a finished product, it also plays a fundamental role in the classic method of wine production. The crown caps, in particular, are ideal for promoting fermentation due to their intrinsic characteristics. During disgorgement, they can be easily removed and with them the residues contained in the bidule.
In addition, the crown cap sizes also play a key role. Depending on the diameter chosen, it is indeed possible to modify the taste of the final product. A curiosity that not everyone probably knows.