Why do they turn the bottles of champagne?
Riddling is a step in the traditional method of making sparkling wine.
Unlike other methods of winemaking, when it comes to bubbly made in the traditional Champagne method, fermentation is happening in every single bottle.
That means the sediment (a byproduct of fermentation) that a winemaker would normally leave at the bottom of a barrel or tank is stuck inside each bottle of sparkling wine.
Think of riddling as a way to consolidate all that sediment—you can’t just shake the bottle because sediment will dissipate and make the wine cloudy.
But you can’t just leave the bottle still, because it will clump together and stick to the side.
By using the help of gravity, a riddler will grab the bottom of each bottle, give it a small shake with a back and forth twist, and over the course of a couple of weeks, increase the incline of the bottle from on its side to completely upside down.
When ridding is complete, the sediment is all collected in the neck of the bottle, and then this “plug” is frozen and removed in the process of disgorging.
P.S. It was 1818 before the story of riddling really started.
Legend has it that Madame Clicquot, prompted by an employee called Antoine Muller, took a kitchen table and had “holes drilled in it at an angle, so that the bottles might be set at different angles and be turned while remaining in their places.”
It was a worker with the House of Morzet called Thomassin who then put the idea into practice.
The riddling table, forerunner of the pupitre, was born!
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