Charmat and Méthode Champenoise. The Charmat process is used to make relatively simple sparkling wines which have the young, fruity characteristics four in white and pink table wines just after they are released into the market. Yeast character is not emphasized and aging of the wine is not desired: the whole process can take as little as two weeks. About 80% of the sparkling wine made in the U.S. is produced by this method.
the Méthode Champenoise process is the time-honored traditional method of making Champagne and fine sparkling wine. This process involves using better quality grapes, extended time to bottle age, and lots of hand labor. it is meticulous and costly but produces a far superior product that the Charmat method.
What are the two principle methods used to make Sparkling Wine and how do they differ?
Many of us have had the unfortunate experience of trying to drink sparkling wine from those little flat saucer-shaped glasses sometimes used at weddings or other social occasions. These glasses are easily spilled and offer little help in enjoying the bubble display that is an important sensory aspect of fine sparkling wines. It's amusing to learn that these glasses became popular when they were created by Marie Antoinette who wanted to drink Champagne from a glass modeled after her own breast.
The preferred glass for drinking sparkling wines is the flute. But whatever shape of glass you use, they must be scrupulously clean and free of detergent residue which can cause excess foaming and strip the wine of its bubbles.
Originally published in our Gold Wine Club's The Wine Press, Hahn Family Wines and Domaine Montreaux edition featured in 1996.