Thursday, July 05, 2007

Charmat, I'm Sure

Even though it's been a part of winemaking since the early 1900s, it took the Oxford English Dictionary nearly 100 years to add the word "Charmat" (shar-MOTT) to its esteemed list of official words.

As you lovers of bubbly may know, the Charmat process is one of the common ways that still wine is transformed into bubbly. Also known as the tank or bulk method, it was invented somewhere between 1907 and 1910 by a Frenchman named Eugene Charmat.

Wine is added to a temperature-controlled tank like the one above, along with some yeast and sugar. The tank is then closed. The yeast and sugar start to ferment, which causes CO2 gas to be released into the wine.

Charmat is faster and less expensive than methode champenoise and is also best for preserving delicate aromas and flavors found in some grapes. It makes wine with fewer bubbles than champagne.

So next time you enjoy a glass of Prosecco or Moscato d'Asti, be sure to toast Mr. Charmat.

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