Just add bubbles – how not to make champagne!

Posted on Posted in Educational

champagne glasses

Those who know me will know that I have a wicked sense of humour and love a laugh. Which is why those near and dear are always sharing anything funny that does the rounds of Facebook that involves champagne or bubbles. And I love that they do! But the video that has been doing the rounds again over the last week is just annoying! Maybe I’ve just seen it too many times. Maybe I am just jealous that I have been unable to come up with my own viral video! But, what is the collective obsession with cheap and nasty?

I am referring to the irritating video of an Australian housewife making cheap ‘champagne’ with her Sodastream. It was first published three years ago, apparently for the woman’s nieces to learn how to do it. As with most of these accidental viral videos, she says she doesn’t know how it got onto youtube and I am sure she never expected it to go viral.

It is funny in the laconic Australian way, and after all, it is just an ordinary citizen having a bit of fun in her kitchen. What is so frustrating is the ongoing use of the word champagne for anything that has bubbles in it. That and the comments that come under these Facebook posts that suggest that many people have tried this trick and that it is ‘just as good’ as the ‘real thing’. When something like this goes viral it chips away at all the good work that has been done in promoting the ‘brand’ of champagne as only coming from France.

Carbonating wine is not a new idea. A lot of cheap sparkling wines are made by carbonating the still wine. That is why they are cheap, mass marketed and are NOT champagne.

It takes almost three years to get those beautiful bubbles into your glass. After harvesting, the grapes are pressed and left to ferment into still wine for about four months. These still wines are then blended and bottled with sugar and yeast added to encourage the secondary fermentation that occurs in the bottle and takes about 4-8 weeks to complete. The bottles are then left to rest ‘on lees’ for a minimum of 15 months before the sediment is removed by a process called disgorgment, the cork and cage are fitted and the bottle dressed ready for sale. They then should rest another 2 months before they are sold. For Australians, there is another 2 months of transport added on to that before it gets to our shores.

The man hours involved in producing a bottle of champagne are phenomenal. People put their heart and soul and passion into producing a drink that is a perfect expression of the ‘terroir’ from which it comes.

It’s why you can’t get 5 litres of champagne for $17!

So go ahead, experiment with your cheap plonk and turn it into fizz which you pour over a glass full of ice cubes and add some cordial for a twist.

Just don’t call it champagne!

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