They say that when Champagne (or in Australia, sparkling) wine was created, it’s inventor saw ‘stars’ - and while it may seem like galactic magic cast the bubbles into the bottle, there’s actually a few scientific techniques that bring your fizz to life.
Taylors employs the bottle fermented method which is considered the best way to achieve the fine 'bead' or bubbles in sparkling wine. It begins as all wine does - as a grape! Our Estate Sparkling is made with a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, which are the classic varietals for a sparkling. The juice from these luscious grapes is fermented once, in barrel or tanks, before undergoing a second fermentation process inside the bottle.
This is where the beautiful beads of bubbles begin to form. A small amount of yeast and sugar is added to the bottle during this stage. This special yeast (not the kind you make your dinner rolls with) eats away at the sugar, producing carbon dioxide gas which is trapped inside the bottle - or the natural sparkling!
Once the yeast have done their job of creating the bubbles, they are then known as lees and left inside the bottles to impart that subtle 'creamy' body and also that 'bready' flavour that we love so much in good quality sparkling wine. Just prior to final bottling, the yeast in carefully removed and the wine clarified to ensure our fizz is clean and clear and ready to enjoy!
So while it may appear like a magic trick to make the wine fizzy as, it’s actually a lengthy process to create your favourite bottle of bubbles!
Ever read a wine review or tasting note and think, is that actually in my wine?
Notes of tobacco... ripe, juicy berry... a mid-palate of forest floor…
All lovely in description, but for the uninitiated wine drinker, often confusing!
The quick answer is, no - these often poetic descriptors are not actually explaining the contents of what’s in your favourite glass, but are simply flavour references to help describe what a wine tastes like, helping the reader paint a flavour picture without actually drinking the same wine.
If you’re feeling a bit brave and want to give writing your own tasting notes a shot, start by researching some of the basic flavour profiles of each wine variety - this will not only help you decipher which wine you’re tasting in a blind tasting (very impressive at dinner parties), but also help you start to recognise the primary flavours of each variety, like floral, fruit and herbal notes. Then, consider the winemaking techniques behind the wine, like fermentation processes or oak influence, as this can often hint to secondary flavours like chocolate, tobacco or woody notes.
So while your wine isn’t a mish mash of a farmers market fruit basket, it is a great opportunity to test your sensory skills and learn a bit more about what goes into explaining your favourite glass of vino.
Food pairing - sometimes it feels it should be left to the professionals, right?
While complex in theory, food pairing is a gastronomic experience that can elevate a dish in a totally unique way!
So consider you’ve done the hard yards and nailed a classic pairing of grilled salmon and oaked Chardonnay, now what?
Do I dip the salmon in my wine? Do I make a chardonnay sauce? Do I pour the wine in my mouth while I’m chewing?
The simple equation to enjoying a harmonious food and wine match is easy: wine + food + wine.
First, take a sip of your paired wine. Swirl, sniff, then taste (and swallow). The flavours of the wine will coat your mouth and taste buds in preparation for your first bite. Second, have a bite! This will bring the two together in perfect balance. After you’ve chewed and swallowed your first bite, take another sip of wine. How does it taste? Does the wine taste different the second time around?
The fun thing about food and wine pairing is if it doesn’t work out quite right the first time, there’s always a next! Keep experimenting with different flavour combinations until you land on the sweet spot.
Some things in life are certain. The sky is blue, grass is green and the Clare Valley makes some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon in the world. (Alright, that last one might just be our opinion)
But there’s one thing that isn’t certain that might surprise a few people - you don’t always have to have red wine with red meat.
Shocking, huh? Food pairing has come a long way since the beginning of wine’s history, as it was often always served as an accompaniment to food. While there are many ‘classic’ pairings, like red wine and red meat (beef or lamb), contemporary cuisines have given us the opportunity to evolve our palates and try new things.
So, instead of the traditional Shiraz and Steak combination, how about giving a bright glass of bubbles a try? Steak, when prepared well, is rich, juicy and depending on the cut, fatty. So a sparkling wine with bright acidity, complexity and minerality is going to balance very well with a flavoursome steak main. The acidity cuts through the fat without overloading on flavour, while bringing lightness and brightness to the meal.
Or if bubbles aren’t quite your thing, think about a white with structure, like Chardonnay. This classic white variety has both the acidity and complexity of flavour to stand toe-to-toe with a luscious and savoury steak dish.
Next time you’re in the pub or preparing a flavoursome piece of meat at home, think about reaching for a white or sparkling wine instead - you never know, it may become a new favourite!