Help with first sparkling wine

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Nov 20, 2007
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Hi All

I'm jumping in the deep end here by attempting to make a sparkling wine which will be disgorged and sweetened and I have a few questions about both. I'll be using a Selection Speciale Millenuim Sparkling Wine kit.

When disgorging the lees how quick do you have to be before capping the bottle again? Are we talking about a good ten seconds here or will a few milliseconds ruin it?

The traditional method to get the yeast to the neck of the bottle is to gradually turn them upside down over the space of a few weeks and give them regular 1/4 turns Has anyone used this method before? Is there a not so labour intensive way that still has good results, e.g. bottle condition it upside down in the first place, or simply do a 1 or 2 step turn? what methods have you used?

I understand that sweetning sparkling wine is difficult since the yeast will ferment all of the remaining sugar while bottle conditioning, making the wine dry (Brut). I'm not so much a fan of Brut and like sweet sparkling wines like Sec. I've heard you can use lactose to sweeten it but some say lactose will add an unwanted taste to it. What are your expericences with lactose in wine?
Would it be a good idea to add potassium sorbate or sodium bisulphite + sugar before recapping after disgorging, to stop the remaining yeast from fermenting the added sugar? Maybe that's just a silly idea...
Has anyone had success with sweetening sparkling wine?

Thanks for your input. Please feel free to flame me if this is a too complicated task for a beginner wine maker. I've been making beer for 8 months now and have worked up to mashing/lautering and making all grain beers, so I hope this experience will help.
I make a sparkling wine 10# cherries 10# honey ec1118 yeast and nutreint after racking and filtiring i add 2# lactos stir well to dissolve when I bottle add one more pound of fruit boiled and well filtered boil down to a concentrate Add 3/4 cup honey to carbonate turns out really nice this makes five gallons

Riddling: (or the process of getting that yeast to settle in the neck of the bottle). What I do is to store the champagne bottles on their sides. This will end up giving you a long "strip" of dead yeast along the side of the bottle. The then carefully place each bottle upside down into a 5 gal bucket (you can fit 6 bottles in a bucket) so that the bottles are resting on their crown caps.

Every day or so, I give each bottle a little twist to help the yeast settle into the bottle's neck. Once this happens, it is time to disgorge.

Disgorging: I place the champagne bottles into a chest freezer. For my setup, I will get the neck to freeze in about 90 to 120 minutes.

As far as speed in recapping... No hurry! The champagne is chilled and the CO2 is slow to be given off. Much like opening a warm beer and having it foam up VS a cold beer that does not, cold champagne will stay carbonated far longer that you might think.

Sweetening: Take my advise, do not back sweeten! It is a headache just waiting to happen. Go for a dry champagne. you can always add a sugar cube to you champagne glass before you drink it.