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Wine Wise - Sparkling Wines

( Originally Published 1933 )

The Sparkling Wines are Champagne and Sparkling Burgundy. Champagne is pale gold in color. Sparkling Burgundy is ruby in tint. Both are party wines, popular for festive occasions, not only because of their bubbling liveliness, but because they have the magic to produce gayety and good cheer among all who drink them. Sparkling wines are renowned as aids to digestion. They also have great medicinal values, particularly in cases of illness involving fevers.


The discovery of Champagne is credited to Dom Pérignon, cellarmaster at the Abbey of Hautvillers in the Champagne province of France. In this region the Petit Pinot grape from which Champagne is made is grown on hillside soils that are white and chalk-like. The Champagnes are made with infinite care, each bottle having personal attention year after year and being handled about zoo times before it is ready for the market. The Champagne centers of France are Rheims and Epernay. The underground caves of this region contain millions of bottles of Champagne, each with its characteristic flavor.

The making of Sparkling wines by the accepted natural processes is an operation calling for great patience. After several wines have been blended together in a cuvée, or "marriage of the wines," to build up the right body, color and flavor, the wine is put in bottles and a small piece of rock candy is added to each bottle to start up the second fermentation which provides the carbon dioxide that makes the bubbles. When the second fermentation is completed, the wine has thrown a deposit, and the bottles are carefully manipulated for months until the. sediment is gradually brought down on the cork. Then the necks of the bottles are frozen and the sediment is captured in ice. Next the corks are removed and the little ice cube containing the sediment is blown out of the bottle. At this point, the dosage of brandy, syrup of fruit juice or other flavors is added to give the Champagne a characteristic taste. The bottles are then securely corked and fastened with wire hoods.

Imitation Sparkling wines are made by carbonating the wines artificially just as soda water is made. This requires but a few minutes and the wine is only a cheap masquerade for real Sparkling wine which requires two to three years to develop.

Sparkling wines are served colder than any other types, preferably 35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.


California Champagnes were developed by skilled experts brought from France. Only a small acreage of the Petit Pinot grapes are cultivated in the Golden State. California Champagne is made by blending several fine, light white wines. No one California wine has all the needed qualities. Accordingly the blend is made up of one wine selected for its body, another for its color, another for its flavor, and so on. The marriage of these wines is called the cuvée. The quality of these Champagnes is attested by the fact that they have taken a "grand prix" and other high awards in expositions abroad in competition with the best Champagnes of Europe.


In the Finger Lakes Region of New York and the Sandusky district of Ohio, American Champagnes are made from American grapes grown in shale soil which is similar in many ways to that of the Champagne district in France. The Delaware, Elvira, Duchess, Catawba, White Concord, Diana and Niagara varieties are used for the blends which produce these Champagnes. These distinctly American Champagnes are of high quality and compare favorably with the imported Champagnes.


Sparkling Burgundy is a red effervescent wine made by the same process used for Champagne, except that the red Petit Pinot grapes are fermented on the skin. It is a party wine like Champagne and because of its natural carbonation is renowned as an aid to digestion. Sparkling Burgundy is particularly prized with meats of gamey flavor.

As a blood producer, Sparkling Burgundy stands without a peer. It has all the characteristics that fine wine requires-a brilliant ruby color, a good deal of body and a fine fruity flavor. Real Sparkling Burgundy is fermented in the bottle, according to the French method. It requires three years to reach a state of perfection from the time of bottling and during the development of the sparkle, maturing, racking, disgorging, corking, wiring, labeling and packing, each bottle is handled many times. Sparkling Burgundy should be served cold in Champagne or tulip-shaped glasses with a hollow stem to display the effervescence.

As in the case of real Champagne the fountain of bubbles will continue for twenty minutes or more. Artificially carbonated Burgundy, on the other hand, goes flat in a few minutes.

Eastern Sparkling Burgundy is made by the French process from the Ives Seedling, the Clinton and other red varieties in New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Missouri.

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