We use the method from this Web Site
Here is a few photos of the process.
Take 5 or 6 gallons of any dry wine, we have used only white wine [dry apple] but use any wine that you enjoy, a blush or rosé would work too.Commercial Champagne/Sparkling Wine is made form Chardonnay, or sometimes even an off quality wine.
DO NOT STABILIZE this wine.Rack to bottling bucket,
1/3/4 cups dissolved white table sugar in boiled water [cooled]
1 package Champagne Yeast...rehydrated in small amount of water.
We try to make sure there is no Sulfite residue on any equipment, that will impair the fermentation process that will take place inside the bottles, so rinse bucket, and filling equipment, tubing, etc. with water.
Stir frequently while bottling to keep sugar and yeast in suspension. Fill rinsed Champagne bottles. Cap bottles with plastic champagne stoppers and wire securely...or they say you can use crown caps [beer bottle caps] at this point.
Store bottles upright in sturdy containers. Line bottoms of containers with many layers of newspapers. Champagne yeast will work at temperatures as low as 50*F, so a basement floor is okay. These bottles will be stored upright for 2 months while the yeast works.
Shake the bottles weekly to disperse the yeast and sugar throughout the wine. Shake more often towards the end of the 2 month period, every few days is good, this will get any sediment off the bottoms and dispersed it through the wine. If any wires were loose you will notice that they have tightened...this is from pressure building in the bottles. [kind of creepy, but you know that the yeast is working]
*We try to use at least one clear bottle for each batch as a 'view' into the fermentation process.
After 2 months, invert the bottles in the storage boxes.
Now comes the Riddling Process. Everyday [if possible] lift the bottle, twist briskly and drop the bottle into the box from a hight of about 2-4 inches. ***[This is why you padded the bottoms of the boxes, to absorb the shock of the bottles dropping into the box.]
This process will drop any sediment that has formed on the sides of the bottle neck and send it settling into the bottle cork.
After 2 weeks or so of Riddling it is time to dégorge the wine. This is a process of removing the lees that have settled into the cork.
Keeping the bottle inverted [neck down] place in a freezer till there is ice forming in the neck of the bottle. In our old chest type freezer it takes and 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Now that you have some ice formed in the neck of the bottle you can return the bottle to a semi-up-right position to dégorge the ice 'plug'.
Now comes the dégorging. This is best done outdoors, wear glasses or safety glasses, keep loved ones and pets away from popping corks. *The safety glasses are to protect your eyes from the spurting wine.
Carefully remove the wire.
POP!!! As quickly as you can place your CLEAN thumb over the bottle opening. This is kind of tricky, but you'll figure it out fast. Dégorge several bottles at a time. [or just one to try it]
Using a small funnel refill bottles from one, try to pour the wine down the sides of the bottles to prevent foaming. *Dispose of any leftover wine....Leftover wine...Hello!!!
Place clean plastic stoppers and wires on the bottles and store right side up for about 2 more months in your wine cellar. This will give the wine some time to rejuvenate the bubbles that were lost during the dégorging process.
Here is a shot of the lees in the plastic top...
*Probably not a bad idea to wait to label till the end of the process, things get a little messy during the dégorging process.
Hope this tutorial is helpful...enjoy your bubbly, it is worth the process.
Edited by: Northern Winos