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A soft drink is a drink that contains carbon dioxide dissolved in water. This gas makes the drink fizzy and fizzy.
The carbonation process can occur naturally. The water in some mineral springs is carbonated due to natural geological processes or phenomena, often related to volcanic activity.
It has long been believed that natural carbonated water, such as that from mineral springs, has medicinal properties. In the 19th century, “taking the water” was a popular holiday activity, as people traveled to these mineral springs to drink the naturally carbonated water.
Some known naturally carbonated water are Badoit, Gerolsteiner, Wattwiller, Ferrarelle, Borsec, Perrier and Apollinaris. You may or may not recognize these names, but they are considered premium in the bottled water world.
Carbonated water has always been desirable, which is why scientists and researchers have learned how to artificially create this type of carbonation. William Brownrigg was the first to use carbon dioxide to aerate water, and that was in 1740.
In 1767, Joseph Priestly invented carbonated water by adding carbon dioxide to it. This process became commercial in 1781 when Thomas Henry built the first factory to sell artificial carbonated water.
The first US patent for “Means of Mass Production of Imitation Mineral Water” was issued in 1810 in Charleston, South Carolina. The first carbonated soft drink, Vernor’s Ginger Ale, was developed and sold in 1866.
Beer has been around as long as people, and the beer is naturally carbonated also. Beer carbonation occurs during the fermentation process, when yeast dissolves sugars and produces alcohol and carbon dioxide.
In the past millennia, brewers were not always able to preserve the natural fermentation of beer because the containers in which it was kept were far from airtight. Yet the idea that alcoholic beverages could – and perhaps should – be carbonated is far from new.
Wine is also part of human history, as is carbonation. Sparkling in wine has been documented by ancient Greek and Roman historians, and there are even older references as well.
The process of natural carbonation by fermentation was not well understood. Vintners blamed fairies and evil spirits, or the phases of the moon.
In the early Middle Ages, wines produced in Champagne in France were known to have a tendency to fizz. At the time, this was considered a flaw, not a desirable feature.
In the 17th century, Benedictine monk Dom Pérignon, who was the cellar master at Hautvillers Abbey, was tasked with finding a way to de-bubble the wine bottles. This was of particular concern because carbonated wine was considered the “drink of the devil” at the time.
Around the same time, if not a little earlier, the British recognized the value of sparkling wine and tried to preserve the bubbles when bottling. Scientist Christopher Merret even featured an article explaining how to force the fermentation process by adding sugar before bottling.
Today, the only wine bearing the appellation ” Champagneis a wine grown in Champagne from Champagne grapes. The five producing regions are the Montagne de Reims, the Marne Valley, the Côte des Blancs, the Côte de Sézanne and the Aube.
The champagne production process is strictly controlled by the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée. Any sparkling wine produced outside of this method cannot be labeled or sold as Champagne.
The grape varieties that can be used for the cuvée are Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay which are the most commonly used. Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Petit Meslier and Arbane are also Champagne grape varieties.
The most common blend is two-thirds red grapes and one-third Chardonnay grapes. The grapes are fermented into a still white wine.
Once the wine is bottled, yeast and sugar are added to the bottles and a second fermentation is initiated. During the second fermentation, the yeast cells die and release carbon dioxide.
This carbon dioxide is trapped in the bottle, and over the next 15 months (or more), the champagne slowly becomes bubbly and bubbly. It is then clarified, watered down, sealed and sold.
Other sparkling wines
The process of carbonizing champagne is known as the Traditional Method, and certainly other winemakers can use this process as well.
Other ways of introducing carbonic acid into wines are the tank method (Charmat), which also relies on a second fermentation, but this second fermentation is done in barrels, and the ancestral method, where the fermentation is stopped by refrigeration. The wine is then bottled and the fermentation is allowed to continue.
Wines can also be carbonated in the same way as soft drinks. Liquid carbon dioxide can be introduced to make the wine sparkling.
France: French wines made using the traditional Champagne method but outside the Champagne region so they cannot receive the appellation include Crémant d’Alsace, Crémant de Bourgogne and Crémant de Loire.
Chili: Chile has been producing sparkling wines since 1879 in varieties ranging from blanc de blanc to blanc de noir to sparkling rosé. They also produce a naturally carbonated Pinot blended with fresh strawberry pulp.
Italy: Italian winemakers produce Prosecco, Asti and Lambrusco. Prosecco is made with the Glera grape variety.
Asti sparkling wine generally has a lower alcohol content and is very fruity. It is fermented in a pressure vessel to trap carbon dioxide and maintain carbonation.
Lambrusco is a sparkling red wine made from native red grapes.
South Africa: The South African Cap Classique Method is typically fruity and fermented using traditional methods and grape varieties such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc. A sparkling red Pinotage is also produced.
Spain: Spain has its own sparkling wine, Cava, which is made using the traditional method and aged for nine months. The white cava is made with Macabeo, Xarello and Parellad grapes, and Garnacha or Monastrell are added to produce the rosé cava.
Canada: Grape-growing conditions in Canada are similar to those in the Champagne region, so Canadian sparkling wines are making a name for themselves in international markets. Most of their wines are fermented using the traditional method and varietals include Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Vidal Blanc and Gamay.
Unique to Ontario, Icewine Dosage is made by adding Canadian Icewine to traditionally produced sparkling wine.
Portugal: Espumante is produced throughout Portugal, but DOC Bairrada certified quality espumante is made using the traditional Champagne method. It is stamped with the Vinho Espumante de Qualidade Produzido em Região Determinada (VEQPRD) certification.
Australia: Australia is an emerging player in the world of sparkling wines and several renowned French champagne houses have invested in Australian sparkling wines. Most Australian wines are produced in Tasmania, using traditional fermentation methods and Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and sometimes Pinot Meunière grapes.
Australian winemakers have also released a sweet and sparkling wine from Shiraz.
Hungary: Hungarian wineries produce a sparkling wine called pezsgő. They are usually fermented using the Charmat method, but some also use the traditional fermentation method.
Grapes used include Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Muscat Ottonel and Muscat Lunel, as well as native Hungarian grapes such as Olaszrizling, Királyleányka, Kékfrankos, Hárslevelű, Furmint, Kéknyelű and Juhfark.
Germany: Sekt or Qualitätsschaumwein, as defined by the rules of the Court of Justice of the European Union, must contain at least 10% alcohol and a pressure of 44 psi in the bottle. It is usually fermented using the Charmat method.
Deutscher Sekt can only be made from German grapes and Sekt bestimmter Anbaugebiete (bA) can only be made from grapes grown in one of the 13 quality wine regions. Sekt’s best sparkling wines are typically made from Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir grapes.
Austria: Austria also produces Sekt wines, but uses traditional fermentation methods. The white wines with a golden hue are made from the Welschriesling and Grüner Veltliner grape varieties, and the Sekt rosé wines are made from the Blaufränkisch grape variety.
Eastern Europe: The former Soviet Republic produced a sweet sparkling wine called Sovetskoye Shampanskoye. The name lives on because vineyards in today’s Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Armenia, Belarus and Moldova produce wines bearing this label.
America: American sparkling wines range from high-quality, traditionally-made bottles to inexpensive wines artificially injected with carbon dioxide to produce effervescence.
California is one of the most important wine regions in the United States and is where sparkling wines are made from Chardonnay, Pinot noir, Pinot Meunier, Pinot blanc, Muscatel, Riesling, Traminer and Chasselas grapes. US wine laws allow winemakers to use the term “Champagne” if that label was used before 2006, but they must identify the actual place of origin.
New York’s Finger Lakes region is also known for its wine, and traditionally fermented sparkling wines are made here from Riesling, Chardonnay, and Pinot noir grapes.
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