Méthode Traditionnelle: The labor-intensive process whereby wine undergoes a secondary fermentation inside the bottle, creating bubbles. The process begins with the addition of a liqueur de tirage (a wine solution of sugar and yeast) to a bottle of still base wine, triggering a secondary fermentation inside the bottle which produces both carbon dioxide and spent yeast cells, or lees, which are collected in the neck of the bottle during the riddling process. The lees are then disgorged from the bottle, and replaced with a solution of wine and sugar, giving the sparkling wine its sweetness. All Champagne and most high-quality sparkling wine is made by this process. Also known as méthode Champenoise, méthode classique and metodo classico.
Disgorgement: When making sparkling wine, this technique is used to remove frozen sediment remaining in the bottle after the second fermentation. Through the riddling process, the sediment settles in the bottle neck and the neck is then dipped into a brine solution and frozen. Working quickly, the bottle is turned upright and the crown cap removed. The plug of frozen sediment is ejected by the pressure of the carbon dioxide. Also known as Dégorgement.
Dosage: In bottle-fermented sparkling wines, a small amount of wine (usually mixed with sugar) that is added back to the bottle once the yeast sediment that collects in the neck of the bottle is disgorged. Also known as liqueur d'expedition.
Riddling: In making sparkling wine, the process of moving the sediment remaining in the bottle from the second fermentation to rest in the neck of the bottle for easy removal. The process of riddling is part of the méthode traditionelle and was developed by Madame Clicquot (Veuve Clicquot) in the early 1800s to remove the cloudy lees from the bottles. The bottles are loaded in a horizontal position onto wooden racks called pupitres. At this point, the sediment rests on the side of the bottle. As the bottles are riddled, or given a sharp quarter-turn daily and gradually tilted upside-down, the sediment works its way to the bottle neck. Today, most producers use efficient mechanical riddlers. Also known as Remuage.
Ancestral Method: An inexpensive but risky and difficult-to-control method of producing sparkling wine, and almost certainly the oldest, in which the primary fermentation is stopped before completing, and a secondary fermentation occurs in the bottle, ending when the yeast cells deplete the supply of residual sugar. There is no dosage, or sugar addition, to kick-start the secondary fermentation, and the wine is not disgorged to remove any sediment or lees remaining afterward.
Metodo Classico: See Méthode Traditionnelle.
Tirage: See Liqueur de Tirage.
Méthode Classique: See Méthode Traditionnelle.
Liqueur d'Expedition: See Dosage.
Remuage: See Riddling.
Liqueur de Tirage: A solution of wine, sugar and yeast added to a bottle of still base wine to begin the traditional method of making Champagne, or méthode traditionnelle. The addition of the liqueur de tirage triggers the secondary fermentation which gives sparkling wine its bubbles.
Col Fondo: Sparkling wine production method for traditional Prosecco, in which the spent yeast cells, or lees, left over from the secondary fermentation are not disgorged.
Méthode Ancestrale: French term for Ancestral Method.
Traditional Method: See Méthode Traditionnelle.
Autolysis: A chemical reaction between the wine and the lees by which enzymes break down the dead yeast cells, producing amino acids and releasing proteins and carbohydrates into the wine. It imparts characteristics in a wine such as richness and creaminess as well as aromas of bread dough, toast or brioche. It is a key element of the traditional method of making sparkling wine, such as Champagne.