Making a lightly carbonated wine (frisante): traditional method vs forced carbonation?

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May 25, 2014
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Hi Friends,

I'm a novice winemaker whose white wine is a little boring, and I was considering trying to add a little carbonation. I had a couple questions about techniques:
  • What is the best technique for producing a very gently carbonated wine. Can you tell the difference between using a forced carbonation method and the traditional méthode champenoise?
  • I've noticed many commercial frisantes are bottled in regular bottles non-champagne bottles. What are the general limits these commercial makers follow to ensure safety while using regular bottles?
  • Somewhat unrelated, my wine tastes somewhat elegant now but I was hoping for it to have a little more crispness up front. Is this all down to the fruit, or do makers manipulate this by adjusting the PH?
Any other help you think may be useful is more than welcome! Hope you all are having a great weekend.

Thanks All.
Forced carbonation requires equipment. I'm far from an expert on the topic so I'm not going to explain further -- hopefully someone else will.

Methode champenoise is more involved. Make a dry wine, add sugar, bottle in champagne bottles and crown cap. Go through the riddling and disgorging process (search on this for a good explanation).

I just made a gallon of sparkling Chardonnay, using a basic method. I purchased commercial sparkling drops (looks like clear hard candy), added 2 each to champagne bottles, filled with wine, and crown capped. This has the drawback that there will be sediment in the bottle, and I will pour the wine carefully to avoid sediment, which is what I do with beer.

Alternately, when making a full 5 gallons (like I do with beer), I add 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar to the batch prior to bottling. For very light sparkle, use 1/4 cup. If using the drops, use 1 instead of 2 per bottle.

DO NOT use a regular wine bottle when sparkling wine. This was discussed in a recent thread, and I did some research on the topic. Based upon what I read from bottle manufacturers, a bottle is either rated for pressure, or it is not. Standard wine bottles are not.

The commercial bottles with light sparkling are rated for that process. They are NOT standard wine bottles. Use champagne or pop-top beer bottles.

If your wine is flat, add tartaric acid. Go lightly, as it's FAR easier to add more than to take some out.

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