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Champagne; Method of production of sparkling
After the wine has been made, racked and blended, it is ready for its second fermentation, which happens in the bottle.
A little sugar liquid, known as liqueur de tirage, is added to act as a fermentation starter - to make the wine sparkling. The wine is then corked, and wired.
The wine is then stored horizontally in cool cellars, being given a good shake every few months to free an sediment which may have formed. Pressure slowly builds up to about five atmospheres.
During this maturing process the bottles are slowly tilted, so they eventually end up upside down - any sediment thus ending up in the neck of the bottle. Degorgement then takes place - this is the process of removing the sediment without losing too much clear wine. Nowadays this is generally done by freezing the necks of the bottles, so the sediment comes out as a "plug" - pushed by the pressure inside the bottle. The wine is then topped up, with wine from similar bottles.
Before it is re-corked for the final time, it is given a dosage - wine sweetened with a little sugar. The amount will depend on whether the wine is to be sold a Brut (dry), or as a sweeter type. See 'Champagne'; 'Champagne bottle sizes'; Champagne, serving sparkling'; ' Champagne, 'Method and production'
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