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Quinn teaches masterclass in sparkling wine from Franciacorta

Special to The China Post--Summer is the perfect season and reason for drinking sparkling wines, and some of the world's best come from Franciacorta in Italy.

Franciacorta is a region to the east of Milan in Lombardy, and is made from grapes grown in the boundaries of the territory of Franciacorta. Since 1995 the classification has applied exclusively to sparkling wines.

These wines must be made by “metodo classico” — similar to the “methode champenoise” used to produce champagne in France. In Spain this technique is used to make cava.

Four main methods are used to make sparkling wine. The simplest involves injecting carbon dioxide into the liquid, such as when making soft drinks. But this produces big bubbles that disappear quickly from the glass.

The second is the “metodo Charmat” named after a French vine grower in which the wine undergoes a secondary fermentation in bulk tanks, and is bottled under pressure. This method is used for prosecco in Italy and has the benefit of producing smaller and longer-lasting bubbles.

The third method is the traditional method or “methode champenoise.” More complex wines are produced by secondary fermentation in the bottle. But it is more expensive than the Charmat process because of the extra human handling of the bottles.

The fourth technique is known as the “transfer method.” The blended wine is placed in the bottle for secondary fermentation, which produces extra complexity. But then the wine is transferred from the individual bottles into a larger tank after it has spent the desired amount of time on yeast.

Time on yeast gives sparkling wine more complex falvours and aromas.

Non-vintage Franciacorta may not be released for sale until at least 25 months after harvest, and it must spend 18 months in contact with the yeast in the bottle, compared with 15 months for champagne.

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