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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 severtal 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 Demi-Seq (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.


Questions? Ask The Wine Doctor, John Brahm III
(585) 374-5817 for office calls or (585) 374-2406 for house calls!
Get the answer to all of your Home Wine Making questions.