Toast. Brioche. Graham cracker. Pastry. Pie dough. Pizza crust. These are words that are sometimes used to describe the “bready” notes of Champagne. How do these flavors get into the wine?
Champagne wine undergoes a second fermentation after it’s been bottled. The wine-maker will add a dose of Liqueur de Tirage to the bottle, a mixture that includes a bit of wine, sugar and nutrients. Once the bottle is sealed shut, the yeast get to work re-fermenting the wine because now there is fresh sugar to consume.
When the yeast eat all the sugar, they die. The winemaker purposely leaves the dead yeast in the bottle, mixing with the wine for many months. When yeast die and break down, they taste like bread. This is a process known as “autolysis.” The longer wine mixes with dead yeast, the more bready flavors it has.
Over time, the bottles are slowly rotated upside down to force the dead yeast to fall into the bottle’s neck. The neck is frozen, and the dead yeast pop out. The bottle is then resealed and ready to be enjoyed!
The mix of grapes, bubbles and bread gives the wine the famous Champagne taste!
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