Champagne Week Part II – Riddling

December 28, 2010

Any time you add sugar to a wine with yeast, the yeast is going to eat it. It is hard to achieve a sweet wine because of this. Basically, you have to figure out how to either kill or remove the yeast. Methods include having the alcohol content to high, filtering, or pasteurizing. Thing is, to make carbonation via bottle conditioning, you still need the yeast alive at least for a little bit, so having the alcohol content too high or filtering won’t work, and grape winemakers really frown upon pasteurizing. Besides, you are still left with that pesky lee problem.

Instead, winemakers rely on time to starve the yeast to death to make sweet champagne. They place the bottle in a riddling rack, with the bottle tipped on its side initially. As the yeast dies, it falls out as lees.

Lee deposit from riddling

A “riddler” comes by and rotates the bottle about one quarter turn daily with a thunk to help settle out the lees.

Slowly, the bottle is tipped as it is rotated so that all the lees settle into the neck of the bottle, ready to be removed.

Bottles in a riddling rack ready for the next step

I’ll talk about the removal of the lees tomorrow, but I will say that once the lees are removed, more sugar can be added, as all of the yeast is now gone.

Further Reading:


2 Responses to “Champagne Week Part II – Riddling”

  1. […] at this point, the bottle is in a ridding rack, tipped upside down, with all the lees in the neck. From there, the bottle is removed and chilled, remaining in the upside down position to keep the […]

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