How To Make Homemade Sparkling Wine

Glass of sparkling wineThere are many different ways to make sparkling wine. There is the Methode Champenoise, the traditional French method believed to produce the highest-quality sparkling wine. The Charmat Method, a.k.a. the more affordable method, which utilizes a tank and creates wine like Prosecco. The Transfer Method, a combination of the Champenoise and Charmat methods. The Carbonation Method, which we do not recommend, and a few other methods you can read about here. Today we are going to focus on the Methode Champenoise, the traditional way to make Champagne in France. 

Sparkling wine can take up to nine months to finish, so if you’re hoping to have your own bubbly for the holidays you’ll want to start soon. 

Step One: Your Wine Base

Prepare your wine base. To make quality sparkling wine you’ll want to start with a tart but not acidic wine like Chardonnay or Chardonnay style wines. Ferment the base wine the normal way up until the stabilizing step. Do not add the stabilizing add-packs; the sulfites might kill your yeast. Rack your wine into a carboy and wait. When it’s done fermenting, your acid should be crisp and tart, and your wine clean and free of any off-odors.

Step Two: Riddling

To make sure your Champagne has that clear, crisp color, riddling takes place. Riddling is a labor-intensive process that inverts the sparkling wine and twists the bottle back and forth over and over again. This process loosens the sediment from the bottom and sides and collects in the neck of the bottle in preparation for disgorgement. 

Step Three: Disgorgement

Disgorgement is a crucial step in making sparkling wine. The goal is to eliminate the deposit of sediment in the neck of the bottle that occurred during the riddling process. First, prepare your topping wine and sugar, called the dosage, and chill. Next you’re going to put the inverted bottle into the freezer. You want the wine close to freezing, but do not freeze completely or the bottle will break in your freezer. When you see ice crystals form in the neck, your wine is ready to be degorged.

For the last step you’ll want an open space that is easy to clean. Gently remove the bottle cap so the pressure in the bottle forces the sediment out. Carefully top the wine off with the dosage and re-cork. We recommend using plastic sparkling wine stoppers. Cork stoppers can be expensive, difficult to insert and difficult to remove.

Step Four: Enjoy!

Store bottles in a cool, dry place, and be sure to chill each bottle thoroughly before serving!

Cheers!

Summer Time Wine: The best way to enjoy wine in the summer

It’s summer time! What better way to celebrate warm weather than with a refreshing glass of wine?

This year has been pretty crazy, so kick off your shoes, lay back, and enjoy a heavy pour or two. (We don’t judge.)

Summer Wine Pairings

Wines are great by themselves, but can be even better when paired with the right food.

Food and wine go together like sand and the ocean. Let’s dive into the must have wines for this summer and their perfect pairings.

White Wines

White wine has a nice refreshing taste perfect for hot weather. Here are our favorites that are guaranteed to have your taste buds singing!

Pinot Grigio: This wine fluctuates in flavor depending on the region it’s fermented, but always pairs well with seafood. We recommend fresh boiled lobster or garlic lemon creole shrimp to compliment the wine.

Chardonnay: because this buttery wine is subtle in nature, it is important to pair it with mildly flavored food. Chardonnay is best paired with roasted chicken or a creamy alfredo.

Red Wines

Red wine is typically a bit more heavy than white, so people tend to shy away from it in the summer. However, there are great red wines that are just as refreshing in the hot weather.

Pinot Noir: This versatile wine is nice and light for a refreshing taste. It pairs great
with meats such as grilled pork chops.

Carménère: This is perfect for those red wine and steak lovers. The rich cherry flavors make it an absolute dream to sip on. Carménère is best served slightly chilled with a thick and juicy steak.

Rosé Wines

Rosé wine has the perfect pink color to really get you in the summer mood. With a variety to choose from, there’s always a delicious taste inside each bottle.

Grenache Rosé: This wine has a refreshing aftertaste for those extremely hot
summer days. Keep it light with a nice house salad or a caesar salad wrap.

Sangiovese Rosé: This bold wine is best served chilled to taste the layers of peach,
melon, and rose. It’s very versatile and can be paired with anything you want! We recommend orange chicken or even thai.

Summer Activities

Not only does wine pair well with food… it can taste that much better during one of your favorite summer activities.

Here are our favorite outdoor summer wine activities.

Backyard Picnic

If you’re still not ready to go out to a public restaurant, bring the restaurant to you! Set up a cute picnic in your backyard and order food from your favorite eatery.

Grab a picnic blanket, napkins, two glasses, and a bottle of wine. Even a boombox with some summer jams to set the mood.

Make sure you’re pairing the right food with the wine you choose. We suggest a rose wine to give you that summer feel and cool you down while you’re outside in the hot sun.

Wine Tasting

Another fun idea at home is a DIY wine tasting. Invite your friends over, and set up a nice wine tasting in your kitchen or outdoor space.

Grab a variety of red and white summer wines and try guessing the fruits and flavors that make up each wine. Make sure to have light snacks on the counter too for a proper tasting and pairing.

Beach Day

Sun, sand and six feet apart… the beach never sounded so good!

Grab your friends and your wine cooler. Sipping wine blissfully on the beach is hard to beat. After riding the waves, or building sand castles, make a toast to social distancing while having fun.

Don’t forget the sunscreen! Excessive UV rays are great for grapes, not necessarily you.
Whether you’re at home or outside, summer wines are the way to celebrate great weather, tasty food and fun activities.

Have a great summer!

How to Choose the Right Wine Glass

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You’ve finished making your own wine and now want to serve it – but do you know which glass to serve it in to maximize its flavor? With wine glasses, size and shape does matter.
In general, red wine glasses are characterized by their rounder, wider bowl, which increases the rate of oxidation. As the oxygen from the air chemically interacts with the wine, flavor and aroma are subtly altered. The height and bowl of the glass help direct the wine to the back of the mouth giving you a better tasting experience.  White wine glasses, on the other hand, generally have thinner, smaller bowls, which preserve a crisp, clean flavor while keeping the sparkling wine desirable during consumption.
Here’s a short guide to wine glasses to help you prepare for your next wine tasting party (and links to get you started on making your own):
Pinot Noir – The pinot noir glass is designed for fruit-forward noirs. The glass has a wide bowl and a turned out rim, which allows for the drinker to direct the intense flavors immediately to the palette. The stem of the Pinot Noir glass will also have a shorter stem then other red wines.
Chardonnay – These glasses have a wide bowl and a slightly tapered top. Chardonnays with good acidity thrive in oversize bowls, which allow plenty of air into the glass to coax out its nuanced flavors. Chardonnay glasses also tend to have a longer stem to allow you to keep the wine as cool as possible while drinking.
Sauvignon Blanc – The perfect Sauvignon Blanc glass will be tall and slim, offering the freshness and aromas of the wine on the nose. The narrow glass along with a tapered top concentrates aromas.
Burgundy – These wines are best served in tapered glasses that swell in the middle allowing the bouquet to develop fully. Try making your own burgundy wine with our at home wine making kit.
Stemless White Wine – Stemless glassware has a casual appeal that many people like and actually works in the drinkers favor. While holding the stemless glass you are inadvertently warming the wine, which will help unleash its flavors.
Rosé– The flared rim directs wine to the top of the tongue, to temper acidity, while the moderate width was designed to emphasize the fruity aspect of the rosé.
Syrah – The Syrah glass was designed for rich new-world reds; it tends to be smaller than the other red wine glasses. The wide shape bowl allows for the fruit aroma to be presented first to the drinker followed by the tannin flavors.
Champagne – The champagne glass is usually a tall, slender glass designed to concentrate the bubbles of a liquid on the tip of the tongue. The shape conveys the rich scent of the Champagne immediately upon sipping; the wide base of the champagne flute provides stability to the glass.
Port – Due to the sugars, high level of alcohol and intense taste of port, the port glass is finely tuned with a small and slender shape. This style of glass helps mask the overwhelming alcohol odors emitted and instead focus on the bouquet on the subtle oak and other prevalent flavors.
Want more information on making your own wine? Narrow down your choices and pick the right wine for you with our wine selector tool.