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England’s sparkling wines are particularly acclaimed, with Chapel Down, Gusbourne, Nyetimber, Ridgeview, Camel Valley and Ambriel being the most recent to beat prestigious Champagnes at international competitions, reinforcing England’s status as a world class sparkling wine producer. Indeed, our climate is frequently cited as being the closest to what Champagne was in the 60s, when some of the best Champagnes were made. As well as using the classic Champagne varietal. Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, English wine producers make award winning sparkling wines using Seyval Blanc, Reichensteiner, Pinot Gris and other less commonly known grape varietals that are early ripening and beautifully suited to our climate.

Sparkling Wine Facts

What makes English sparkling wine Fizzy?

The effervesce in sparkling wine bottles is created by varying levels of Carbon Dioxide, which can be created naturally or injected artificially.

The actual bubbles in the glass however, are created by what are referred to as “nucleation sites;” imperfections in the glass, which can be enhanced by dust, dirt or cellulose strands from dishcloths to dry them… yummy! Flutes and tulip shaped glasses are best suited for sparkling wine because their shape acts as a chimney to channel the bubbles in a slow and controlled manner.

Did the English invent Sparkling Wine?

It was only when Christopher Merret in 1662 observed the naturally occurring secondary fermentation process and invented a bottle to withstand this pressure, that bubbles became a desirable trait.  While Dom Perignon actually spent most of his life trying to prevent the wine from developing bubbles. Prior to this 20-90% of cellared bottles were lost to this instability.

Does a spoon keep a bottle of sparkling wine fizzy?

The colder the bottle the less quickly the Carbon Dioxide is released, which is why warm sparkling wine explodes on popping the cork and why the best way to preserve the bubbles in the wine is to keep it as cold as possible (and add a bottle stopper).

Kumkani Wines conducted an experiment to find out for themselves whether a spoon makes a difference, concluding that a spoon acts as a “radiator.”  [When it hangs in the bottle, the air inside the neck of the bottle cools faster than the air inside a bottle without the spoon… Because colder air is denser than warmer air, the bottle with the spoon gets a ‘cold plug‘ on top of the wine sooner than the bottle without the spoon. The weight of this colder denser air means that less gas can escape so the bubbles are preserved.] http://lifehacker.com/5429665/keep-your-champagne-bubbly-with-a-spoon

How many bubbles are there in a bottle of sparkling wine?

It is thought that the average bottle of Champagne contains enough Carbon Dioxide to potentially produce between 49 to 250 million bubbles.

What causes different sized bubbles?

Bubbles can vary depending on how dissolved the Carbon Dioxide is and the type of glass used. The more dissolved CO2 you have, the bigger bubbles you will have.

The common misconception is that bubble size is affected by the length of time a sparkling wine ages (the older the wine the smaller the bubbles) and the temperature of the aging cellar (the cooler the cellar, the smaller the bubbles). However, it is customer pressure that makes smaller bubbles more desirable to champagne producers who can reduce the sugar added during the second fermentation to produce smaller bubbles.

Do bubbles make a difference?

According to French Physicist, Liger-Belair, ‘When bubbles reach the champagne surface, most of them burst and project tiny droplets of champagne above the liquid surface… You have a huge quantity of droplets ejected above the [sparkling wine] surface and a significant proportion of these evaporate. During the evaporation process, they transfer aroma into the vapour phase so they can be smelled by the consumer.’

As well as looking striking and releasing aroma chemicals, bubbles can influence a drinker’s palate and taste. ‘We have pain receptors for CO2,’ explains Susan Ebeler from the University of California, Davis in the US. ‘If there are high levels of bubbles popping and activating the CO2 pain receptor in your mouth or nose, that’s going to interfere with the perception of taste and aroma.’

It is also speculated that the bubbles in sparkling wine may speed up alcohol intoxication by helping the alcohol to reach the bloodstream faster. A study conducted at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom gave subjects equal amounts of flat and sparkling Champagne which contained the same levels of alcohol. After 5 minutes following consumption, the group that had the sparkling wine had 54 milligrams of alcohol in their blood while the group that had the same sparkling wine, only flat, had 39 milligrams.

How fast does a sparkling wine cork pop-out?

Champagne corks pop out of the bottle at the speed of 25 miles per hour. A team of German scientists discovered this after shaking a bottle of champagne. According to their calculations, it’s theoretically possible that corks fly at 62 miles per hour.

This speed is not surprising considering the pressure in the champagne bottle is twice as high as in a tyre, namely six bar.

Health and safety

Always keep your thumb on the cork when you remove the muselet (wire basket). To make uncorking safe, the temperature of the liquid should be between 5C and 7C, which means the pressure will be 2 to 2.5 atmospheres, a third lower than when the bottle is at room temperature.

Only when a bottle has been cooled in the fridge and hasn’t been shaken is there hardly any pressure and you don’t have to worry about the speed of the cork.

When consumed in large quantities, sparkling wine may make create the illusion of people appearing increasingly attractive and result in regrettable dance moves.