How many times has 'bubbly' brightened up happy, sometimes unforgettable moments in our lives!
But what lies behind the production of these two types of wine, normally so loved by the female public, and the undisputed protagonists of our aperitifs and the summer period?
What is the difference between a Vino Frizzante (semi-sparkling wine) and a Spumante (sparkling wine)?
Abroad, both types are encapsulated under the single term 'sparkling wine', but between the two there is a basic technical difference in the production of the so-called 'bubbly', a difference which, as producers, we feel it is important to convey to you.
Let us first talk about the amount of carbon dioxide present in both wines.
In Frizzante wine, the 'bubble' will be weaker than in Spumante, since, according to the specifications laid down by the European Union, it must have a maximum pressure of 2.5 bar, as opposed to Spumante whose minimum pressure is set at 3 bar (although normally the average pressure for Spumante varies between 4 and 5 bar).
You may be asking yourself: But how do you get the right pressure?
- ARTIFICIALLY: by adding carbon dioxide directly into the steel tank where the wine is stored. What is important is that in this case, the words 'carbon dioxide added' are compulsory on the bottle label. This is why we advise you to read the bottle labels carefully: you can identify important information that enables you to make a real quality-price comparison of the product.
- NATURALLY: by acting on the natural fermentation of the wine.
Let us focus on the latter method. How does the natural process of wine effervescence take place?
Explaining it simply, we can say that natural sparkling wine is obtained following an initial fermentation in which the sugars in the must are transformed into alcohol and induce the development of carbon dioxide. The presence of the correct quantity of sugars affects the formation of the correct effervescence.
Then, after an initial fermentation, a re-fermentation can take place, which mainly take place according to two historical methods that you may have heard of:
- 'Charmat' method (developed by its inventor Federico Martinotti in 1895, but patented by the Frenchman Eugène Charmat about 15 years later): involves a second fermentation in temperature-controlled stainless steel isobaric tanks;
- Metodo 'Classico' i.e. the Classical Method (or 'Champenoise' method, a clear reference to the French region known as Champagne, where this method was born and famous for the sparkling wine that bears its name): involves a second fermentation directly in the bottle according to a process that is well-defined at every stage.
Now, without dwelling too much on the technical aspects (which we will perhaps address in a separate article), sparkling wines, which we said differ from semi-sparkling wines in that they have a minimum pressure of 3 bar, are produced using both of the above-mentioned natural ' effervescing' methods.
Many wine lovers who are familiar with the delicate and time-consuming process of the 'Classical' method often ask: "Is a sparkling wine made with the 'Classical' method better than one made with the 'Charmat' method?"
No. Apart from the marketing one wants to do about it, it is not a question of better or worse. The choice of one sparkling wine technique over the other depends on many factors. Much will depend on the grape variety one cultivates, the type of wine one wants to create and the market for which it is intended.
In terms of the grape variety, there are some wines such as Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio and Nero, and some types of Lambrusco, where the producer seeks to enhance delicacy and aromatic complexity due to the development of secondary aromas given by re-fermentation and tertiary aromas developed by keeping the wine on its lees through the 'Classic' method. On the other hand, there are wines such as Pignoletto or Trebbiano where one wants to preserve the aromatic freshness and varietal aromas and therefore one prefers to referment the wine in stainless steel tanks to maintain these primary aromas.
In terms of the market, refermentation of a wine involves high costs for producers, costs due to the use of yeasts and sugars, which, according to EU regulations, can only be from grape must, partially fermented grape must, concentrated must and rectified concentrated must. Therefore, the choice of refermentation technique will have to take into consideration the production costs and the spending capacity of the markets to which the wines are destined and, at the end of the day, will determine the type and quality of the product.
In Italy, we have both excellent Frizzante wines and Spumante wines that have nothing to envy from their competitors beyond the Alps.
Which 'bubbly' will you choose?