What is riddling?
Mastering French cooking techniques may be your ticket to throwing an awesome dinner party or impressing someone on a first date, but to truly make an impression it all comes down to details. Champagne or sparkling wine is a great way to make a statement, but you may be unaware of how to properly store your bubbly. In the wine industry, there is an old tried and true method for making sure your Champagne holds that clear, crisp color, and it’s called riddling. This practice involves regularly twisting bottles back and forth to ensure that your sparkling wine remains free of sediment. So, if your plan is to start building up your wine cellar, make sure you know the best way to store your bottles to prevent sediment from making them less palatable.
Riddling is generally only required with sparkling wines developed using the traditional Champagne method. According to Wine Spectator, the fermentation process happens within each individual bottle, and sediment is formed as a byproduct. If the bottle is left for a long period of time, sediment will stick to the sides and make it look unappealing. However, simply shaking the bottle would cause the sediment to cloud the wine. Therefore, winemakers leave Champagne in racks with the neck tilted downward, allowing gravity to push the sediment toward the cork. Every couple weeks, the bottle is riddled (twisted) in both directions and tilted at a more severe angle until all of the sediment is collected in one spot. At this stage, the layer of sediment is removed. The winery Premier Cru notes that sediment can alter the taste of sparkling wine and visually make it less desirable.
In traditional wineries, a person known as a riddler does this by hand to as many as 40,000 bottles each day. The technical term for this is called a manual remuage, according to The Comité Champagne, although machines are becoming an increasingly common method of riddling bottles (automated remuage). However, some wineries still keep a master riddler on hand, and these specialists are known for their breakneck speed since they turn several thousand bottles each hour.
Riddling racks can be found online at a reasonable price and provide a stylish and useful way for storing your wine. What’s more, having a wide array of wine on hand will make it easy to pair a bottle with any meal you make so you can truly show off your culinary skills.
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