As Miss Bubbles, I’m so excited about the next section I’m undertaking in my WSET Wine Education Journey—Sparkling Wines!
We’re learning the various winemaking styles for creating sparkling wines and then exploring all the regions around the world that produce them. Thus, it seems serendipitous that simultaneously the Crush Collection includes a sparkling rosé!
I’m so often asked about sparkling rosé, that it seems valuable to share how it’s produced, but let’s first start with how traditional sparkling is created.
Since Champagne is considered the gold standard for sparkling wine, we’ll use it as our point of reference. The primary grapes used to make Champagne are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Meunier. Traditional sparkling is either a blend of these grapes or they can be Blanc de Blanc, which are sparklers made from only Chardonnay, or they can be a Blanc de Noir made only from black grapes (Pinot Noir and/or Meunier).
In the case of making a Blanc de Noir, the wine will still be lemon to gold color even though it’s made from black grapes because there is no skin contact with the juice. This requires extremely delicate pressing of the grapes.
However, to make a sparkling rosé there are two methods used—
Either, skin contact with the juice is allowed for a minimal amount of time, possibly only hours, or white base wine is blended with red base wine.
Let’s dive into this a little more…
To make Champagne, the wine goes through two fermentation processes. The first produces a still wine, which is referred to as base wine. It is during the second fermentation when the CO2 is captured in the bottle to give the wine its effervescence.
When making a still rosé wine, blending white and red wine is often considered a lower quality way of making rosé. However, in Champagne and many other sparkling wine regions, blending is the standard for how sparkling rosés are created. The winemaker will blend the base wines to create the style and complexity he/she is trying to achieve. Then this blended base wine goes through a second fermentation to create a sparkling rosé.
Most sparkling rosés are dry, like May’s Crush Collection bottle, but the amount of sugar added after the second fermentation is what determines the level of sweetness. We’ll explore this more in my next post on deciphering the sparkling wine labels which convey the amount of sugar in each—Extra Brut, Brut, Demi-Sec, etc…