Sparkling wine terms: do you know your mousseux from your frizzante? - WineUncorked: Wine Reviews and Tips

Champagne, and all sparkling wines, have their own set of words that will tell you just how fizzy the fizzy wine is. Because the varying amounts of bubbles depend on how the sparkling wine is made - and that differs between countries.

Sparkling wine has bubbles because there is trapped carbon dioxide gas dissolved in the wine. Removing the bottle's cork releases this carbon dioxide and it escapes through the wine forming a trail of bubbles. 

The size and lasting power of these bubbles will depend on whether the initiating carbon dioxide got trapped there by fermentation in the bottle or fermentation in a larger tank. The Champagne Method (also known as methode champenoise) is to use bottles to store the just-finished wine that have a small amount of sugar and yeast (liqueur de tirage) added to re-start the wine into action again. This refermenting yeast gives out carbon dioxide as part of the process, but now it's trapped inside the bottle.

Large stainless steel tanks are cheaper to use than individual small glass bottles and the Italians realised this to create the Metodo Italiano - also known as the Charmat method after Eugene Charmat. Charmat was actually a Frenchman who perfected Italian Federico Martinotti's idea from 12 years earlier. Which is a blow for historical accuracy but there you are.

The resulting wines made by this Tank Method (another name for Charmat) are gently fizzy (semi-sparkling), which in Italy are known as frizzante (made famous by Lambrusco) or in Germany spritzig. Large bubbles are another feature of this method which sparkling wine purists look down upon while they sip their smaller longer lasting mousseux rising from their traditional method champagne.

But the French don't have all their own way. The Spanish also use the bottle-storage secondary fermentation method to make cava. This fully-sparkling wine has spumante, which translates as 'sea foam', and relates to the frothy explosion of wine as it escapes from a newly opened bottle. Confusingly, the semi-sweet Italian fizz Asti Spumante is made with the tank method, as is its famous cousin prosecco.

The outsider in all this fizziness are PetNat wines, that are both trendy and naturally petillant (hence their name). Formed by trapping the carbon dioxide from the wine's initial fermentation process, these wines don't have a dosage of sugar added to get the yeast re-started because the yeast hasn't stopped yet when they are bottled. Well to be strictly accurate, the yeast has almost stopped. It has just enough power left to produce small amounts of carbon dioxide. When released this gently sparkling wine has just enough perlant to be fizzantino.

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