D4 Sparkling Wines: Overview Flashcards Preview

WSET® Level 4 D4 Sparkling Wine > D4 Sparkling Wines: Overview > Flashcards

Flashcards in D4 Sparkling Wines: Overview Deck (93)
Loading flashcards...

What is the optimal climate for grapes that make quality sparkling wines?


Cool climates where grapes struggle to ripen is ideal because:

  • Grapes will have just-ripe flavors;
  • Grapes will retain high acidity;
  • Grapes will accumulate sugar slowly, giving wines with low alcohol levels (9-11%).


Why is slow sugar accumulation important in grapes destined for sparkling wine?

Because a slower sugar accumulation means lower sugar levels at harvest, which will yield a base wine that is lower in alcohol (9-11%).  This is important because secondary fermentation produces an additional 1-2% of alcohol.


Grapes grown in warmer climates are ideal for what style of sparkling wine?

Tank method/short aged as fruit provides the more dominant flavor.


Which two grapes are well suited for autolytic styles of sparkling wine?

  1. Chardonnay
  2. Pinot Noir


Why is Chardonnay so well suited to make sparkling wine?

  • Ripens early (though this puts it at frost risk);
  • Apple/citrus aromas are subtle, which complement autolytic flavors.


What are the environmental risks that Chardonnay is prone to?

  • Prone to coulure + millerandage;
  • Susceptible to frost due to early ripening;
  • Susceptible to powdery mildew + botrytis in wet periods prior to harvest.

Overall, Chardonnay is more disease resistant than Pinot Noir.


Why is Pinot Noir well suited to make sparkling wine?

It is early budding and early ripening


What are some environmental risks Pinot Noir is prone to?

  • Prone to frost because it is early budding;
  • Prone to coulure;
  • Susceptible to downy + powdery mildew, botrytis, fan leaf, leaf roll (it's thin skinned!).


Between Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which grape's quality is affected if yields are too high?

Pinot Noir


Three factors within a grape variety that can influence the style of a sparkling wine include:

  1. Intensity of aromas, whether the grape is aromatic (Riesling) or neutral (Chardonnay);
  2. Ability of the grape to retain acidity while ripening;
  3. How the base wine is affected by autolysis, if it sees autolysis.


Grapes grown for sparkling wine are often grown at higher or lower yieds than for still wines?

Higher yields


What are the most desirable characteristics in grapes used for sparkling wines?

  • High acid;
  • Low potential alcohol;
  • Delicate flavors.

All of these are better achieved with HIGH YIELDS.


Effervescence enhances or reduces off flavors?



What is the enzyme released by botrytis that can cause oxidation?



What does early harvesting help to avoid in the grapes?

Fungal disease and mildew pressure

You avoid the rainy season (autumn) by harvesting early!


What happens to a wine if grapes are harvested unripe?

Those unripe flavors can become prominent as the wine matures and the wine can taste unpleasant.

Remember, effervescence enhances the flavors in wine!


Three advantages and one disadvantage of hand harvesting:

  1. Can sort at picking;
  2. Allows for post-harvest selection (remove diseased bunches);
  3. Small crates minimize splitting and crushing;
    • avoiding oxidation + tannin extraction;
  4. Disadvantage: It's slow, labor-intensive, and expensive.


Three advantages and one disadvantage of machine harvesting:

  1. Faster, cheaper, and can do it at night (grapes are cooler);
  2. Cool grapes mean that oxidation slowed, resulting in fresher wine;
  3. Diseased bunches removed at sorting table;
  4. Disadvantage: Can rupture grapes skins;
    • can lead to oxidation, phenolic extraction.


How are grapes usually pressed for premium Traditional Method sparkling wines?  


Whole-bunch pressed

  • It's gentle;
  • Stems minimize the pressure required;
  • Provides clean, delicate juice low in solids + phenolics;
  • Disadvantage: fewer bunches can be loaded into press, so it's time consuming.


Whole-bunch pressing is done:

  • Fast and hard
  • Slow and gently

Slow and gently

  • Especially for black grapes -- slow and gentle pressing minimizes maceration and extraction;
    • Phenolics risk the wine tasting bitter and feeling coarse.


Which machines press grapes most gently?

  1. Pneumatic press
  2. Basket press


Press fractions, versus free run juice, are higher in what three things?

  1. Phenolics;
  2. pH;
  3. Solids.



Press juice wines are:

  • Faster maturing
  • Slower maturing

What does that mean for when they're best consumed?

Faster maturing, which means they're best for immediate consumption


After the grapes are pressed for sparkling wine, when is the  juice clarified: before or after primary fermentation?

Clarified BEFORE primary fermentation


What can a winemaker do to must before primary fermentation if it has excessive color or tannin after pressing?

Fine it using casein, gelatin, or PVPP


What is the temperature for primary fermentation to make a base wine?

14º - 20ºC (57.2º - 68ºF)

  • This is cold enough to retain fruit flavors but not so cold to inhibit yeasts


Grapes for sparkling wine are harvested with low pH (or, high acidity).

Is a low pH environment easy or stressful for yeasts?



In what type of vessel is primary fermentation usually done for sparkling wine?

Temperature-controlled stainless steel vats


What type of yeast is selected for primary fermentation?

One that is able to ferment reliably to dryness in high acid/low pH conditions.

  • neutral yeasts selected for Traditional Method;
  • other yeast strains used to promote flavors, thiols, and esters selected for Tank Method.


Is it common or uncommon to use the same yeast for primary and secondary fermentations?