Today’s letter is M for Mousse.
Not for the animal, or the aerated chocolate dessert, but for bubbles. Fizz is the favourite wine of many, but how do you know when you’ve got a good one on your hands? Not all sparkling wine is created equal, so what should you be looking out for?
Firstly: Method. How was it made? There are two main methods used to make fizz:
The traditional method – this is used to make the likes of Champagne and Cava. Made by a second fermentation occurring within the bottle, the wine is then aged on the yeast deposit left there after fermentation. Over time this yeast deposit begins to break down (this process is called yeast autolysis) which is what gives you those complex flavours of bread, brioche and biscuit that are associated with these styles of wine.
The tank method – used to make Prosecco and some Sekt too. Here the second fermentation occurs in a big stainless steel tank, and so there is very little contact with the yeast. Thus creating a very fresh, fruity and easy-drinking style of wine. A lot of people drink prosecco as a cheap alternative to Champagne, and while they do both contain bubbles that’s pretty much where the similarities end.
Then we have the next important questions: How big and how long? (Get your mind out of the gutter!) The mark of a good sparkler is very small bubbles, and the bubbles should hang around in the glass, beading their way towards the top of the flute for a good while after it’s been poured.
Finally: What do the bubbles feel like? Some bubbles will feel big and prickly on your tongue – unsurprisingly this demonstrates a poorer quality fizz. In a good quality sparkling wine the mousse should feel smooth and creamy.
Once you’ve run through these steps then you should have a fair idea about what level of quality you’re looking at, but as I always say just because it is good quality it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll like it.
What’s your favourite fizz?
P.S. I do know how to spell moose (the animal)…