The traditional method of making sparkling wine has many variations of the name, such as method traditionelle, method champenoise or champagne method. What they all mean is that after the regular production process, wine goes through a process of second fermentation in the bottle, which creates bubbles in the wine. It is certainly not the case that the traditional method is only used for the production of champagne. It is also used for the production of other sparkling wines such as franciacorta, sekt, cremant and cava. The traditional method is used by winemakers who focus on high quality.
The labour-intensive process of secondary fermentation in the bottle to create bubbles begins with the addition of a liqueur de tirage (a wine solution of sugar and yeast) to a bottle of still base wine, triggering secondary fermentation in the bottle , producing both carbon dioxide and spent yeast cells or dregs. The lees are then removed from the bottle and replaced with a solution of wine and sugar, giving the sparkling wine its sweetness. All champagne and most high-quality sparkling wines are made using this process. This process is also known as méthode Champenoise, méthode classique and metodo classico.
To keep the carbon dioxide that forms in the bottle, a crown cap is placed on the bottle. Then time has to do its job. This is followed by a process called remuage in French. The bottles with a crown cap are placed at an angle in pupitres, i.e. inclined racks in which the bottles are placed with the neck down and can be turned. That is to ensure that the yeast sediment builds up in the neck of the bottle. When the moment is there and this sediment is all the way in the neck, the bottle neck is frozen and the crown cap is removed. Due to the pressure of the carbonic acid, the yeast plug shoots out of the bottle, which is called disgorgement. Herina determines the winemaker what the style will be and in particular the sweetness — the winemaker then adds an amount of sugars: the so-called dosage. These sugars are converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide by the yeast cells still present in the bottle. A cork in the bottle ensures that the carbon dioxide remains in the bottle. This cork is additionally secured with iron wire, the muselet. The wine is still fermenting in the bottle, while the carbon dioxide can no longer be removed from the bottle. This creates bubbles in the wine and the still wine has become sparkling wine. The amount of dossage determines the style (extra or ultra brut is very dry (3–6 grams), brut is medium dry (between 6–9 grams), extra dry (9–12 grams) slightly sweeter than a brut).