Sparkling wine instructions

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Wade E

Jul 3, 2006
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Making Champagne
Method One
This method will make any wine sparkle, whether red, rosé or white.
Make a top quality dry table wine, 10 - 11.5% alcohol by volume. This alcohol limit is important, careful use of a hydrometer will ensure that you do no exceed 11.5% AC.
When the wine is stable and very clear, probably six months old, rack it and add 1 1/2 ounces - NO MORE - of sugar per gallon.
Immediately bottle in champagne bottles (This is essential as ordinary bottles won't stand
the pressure) with plastic stoppers properly wired down. You can purchase plastic
stoppers at wine supply stores.
Stand the bottles upright and store for 12 to 18 months.
This gives you a dry, sparkling wine with about 28 lbs. per square inch pressure. Each bottle will have a slight sediment. Chill before serving, handle the bottles gently, and the sediment will give you no trouble. This is by far the simplest method. If you measure carefully, you should have no explosions and no flat bottles.
Method Two
This method is a bit more troublesome, but yields a sweet, sparkling wine without sediment.
Make a basic dry table wine, 10 - 11.5% alcohol by volume, finished, clear and stable.
Take two ounces of sugar for each gallon of wine and make it into a syrup with a little water. Thoroughly mix the wine and syrup. (DO NOT try adding more sugar to get more sparkle!).
Be sure of a good second fermentation, add one packet of Champagne Yeast or good all-purpose wine yeast to the mixture and 1/4 teaspoon per gallon (NO MORE) of yeast energizer.
Siphon the sweetened wine into Champagne bottles and cap with crown caps. Store at 65º to 70ºF. Once a month pick up each bottle, turn upside down and then put back upright. After three months all the sugar should be converted to Carbon Dioxide and alcohol. Yeast deposited on the bottom will show you that the sparkle is there. When you think the wine is ready, taste one bottle. Cool it in the refrigerator, open it and see if the wine really sparkles. If so, proceed as follows, ( by the way, this test is a delightful excuse for sampling your wine early).
Next, place your bottles in a freezer and chill the wine to about 25ºF. This usually takes two to three hours. You may see a little ice within the bottles when they are ready. Now get an equal number of champagne bottles. Put into each of these bottles one ounce standard sugar syrup and one tablet of wine stabilizer (Crushed and dissolved potassium sorbate), and put these bottles into the freezer along with the wine. The stabilizer is essential to inhibit the yeast and prevent a third fermentation and possible explosions.
When the wine is cold enough, bring out one bottle of wine and one champagne bottle. Uncap the wine and siphon it gently into the cold Champagne bottle, taking care to leave the sediment behind. Since the wine is cold, it will loose very little gas. Now insert the plastic stopper and wire it down. Then invert the bottle several times to mix the syrup and wine.
This wine will be very palatable almost immediately after bottling. Note, that one ounce of syrup gives Brut (Slightly Sweet) wine. If you want a Sweet wine, use two ounces of syrup per bottle, plus the wine stabilizer tablet.
* Sugar Syrup 2 cups of sugar per one quart water yields five cups of syrup.
I see someone else has a copy of "the art of making wine" (c) 1968 by Stanley F. Anderson & Raymond Hull.
An excellent book on winemaking, BTW.

An important thing is to be certain to use bottles designed to take the pressure of carbonated beverages, either soda, champagne, or beer bottles.

If you use champagne bottles, you can use regular bottle caps rather than stoppers and wires.
The plastic stoppers work great for catching the sediment in so when you are disgorging them all you really need to do is exchange stoppers after the plug. By the way, I would have quoted this but i copied it off an article many years ago and didnt even know where the heck i got it from anymore.
Here's my method.

It takes more equipment, but is less work, and you can skip bottling altogether if you wish

Put the wine into a sanitized corny keg. Using a carbonation table, carbonate to about 3 volumes co2. Get the bottles and wine as cold as you can and bottle using a picnic tap with either a bottling wand or a broken piece of racking cane attached.

close quickly with either stoppers or caps
You can control the levels of carbonation according to your preferences. stabilize and sweeten your wine before you keg it.

Bulk aging in the keg under pressure results in finer bubbles, and you can tap the keg and "sample" your work without fear of the rest spoiling, as its protected by the gas pressure.

You really dont need to bottle the whole batch at once or even bottle it at all.

The same method works for home made soda, beer, or any other liquid you want to play with. I accidentally carbonated a keg of oxy-clean once. Talk about scrubbing bubbles!
More details Please.

THere's lots of info on the web about this. Pretty much any beermaking forum has a section on kegging. Google away and as always, check a few different sites to make sure they agree.

If your not in a rush, you can scrounge the equipment on ebay or craigslist pretty cheaply. I've got less than $100 into my kegging setup not counting the price of the kegs (i've got 10 of them)

just make certain you understand what your doing, as CO2 tanks have up to 800psi of pressure.
I have done this and it IMO is still not the same, I have had my Crab Apple in there for 6 months now and have a glass about every 2 weeks. The natural fermentation is uneatable for sparkling wines IMO but it sure is way easier Ill give you that and thats the reason I bought all my equipment. Its perfect for beer though and I imagine soda.
That's interesting, Wade.

I've made 6 US gal batches of apple wine where 5 gal went into the corny and the extra gallon was primed and bottled. We couldn't tell the difference in side by side comparison.

What pressure/temp are you using? I wonder if the difference could be in the carbonating conditions or the recipe.

Of course another alternative is to add priming sugar to the corny and let it naturally carbonate. I've never done this, but i've read that you would use half the amount of priming sugar that you would need to bottle.
I dont quite remeber the pressure but know that I leaned on the over carbonating side rather then lean side. Ive been thinking about the priming in corny method myself for my next round ut have never heard of that less priming sugar method, can you remember where you got that from? Would like to read and understand it!

I've never seen an explanation as to why it takes a different amount, just people posting thier experiences in beermaking forums.

Of course, the beauty of that method is that you could always add more sugar or co2 if it comes out a bit flat, or bleed off some if its too gassy.
Wade, how far up the neck do you fill the bottles? I feel that the amount of headspace would make a large difference in the final pressure.
Another method
For those who make beer and have CO2 available
Get a 1 ltr soda bottle.
Fill with one bottle of white wine
Attach a Carbonator
Chill as cold as you can
add 35# of Co2 and shake.(the bottle)
Do this a few times and PRESTO Sparkling Wine.
This only works for 1 bottle.

Carbonator Cap
A ball lock fitting valve that fits a 2 liter soda bottle. Fill up the soda bottle from your keg, and then pressurize with your CO2 line ball lock quick disconnect. Once pressurized, the carbonation is not lost until opened. Great for taking draft beer to parties, picnics, games or wherever without it going flat.

I use the same amount of headspace as i do in my wine bottles as I use the spring loaded filler. Soon I will get the Boun Vino automatic filler so I can hook it up to my Vacuum pump.
hey wade. hopefully you can get back to me quickly. I just wanted to make sure you are referring to in ounces in weight, not fluid ounces. thanks.
Soon I will get the Boun Vino automatic filler so I can hook it up to my Vacuum pump.

Wade, If your talking about the gravity fed automatic bottle filler from Buon Vino look around for the original red ones, they're still around.
The new white ones they started making here don't seem to be as good.
The adjustable rubber slide for filling depth is a loose fit and the shut off mechanism start sticking after a while, needs mineral oil to free it up.

A BOP near me has used the red ones for years, I also used them there for about 5 years. Work well.

I ordered one on line not knowing they had changed the design and got the new white one, not impressed.

I've noticed a lot of other people on different sites are also not impressed with the new ones.

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BCV, I am referring to weight! Canoe, thanks for that info as I have not yet picked 1 up yet.

I am getting ready to bottle from secondary, I dont have a caper and cant afford it right now.. going to use the plastic stoppers and wires..

How much head space do I leave?

Thank you

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