Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/777

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THE AMERICAN CHAMPAGNE DISTRICT.

placed upon clearing tables, or racks, the necks pointing obliquely downward, in order that the sediment which has been formed during fermentation may work down upon the cork. Twice a day for three or four weeks the workmen give the bottles a quick little shake, and turn them partly around and down. At the end of this time the sediment is in the neck of the bottle, while the body of the wine is clear.

Now the bottles are taken to the finishing room, cork down, and the sediment is "disgorged." The workman cuts the cord holding the cork, and zip! out shoots the sediment with a report. The bottle is quickly placed on a machine and supplied with a temporary cork.

The wine in this state is raw vin brut without any liqueur. It is sharp and not cloying to the taste. It must be sweetened. So the bottle is placed in a machine, and a spoonful of liqueur is injected into it from a graduated glass tube or reservoir. This "dosage," as it is called, is simply pure sugar crystal dissolved in old wine or fine brandy. The dry champagne which the English and Americans like contains from four to eight per cent of liqueur; the Russians like sweet champagne, which has from fifteen to twenty per cent of liqueur.[1]

The bottle is permanently corked, and passed to a workman who ties in the cork and fastens wire around it. An ingenious capping machine puts on the pretty gold and silver foil that decorates the bottle, and finally the label is pasted on and the wine cased.

Such, in brief, are the successive stages through which champagne must pass ere it reaches the table with a bird and is called a "cold bottle." During these processes each bottle has been handled about two hundred times, and the transition from the grape to the finished product has taken two years and a half of time. There is, however, a short cut to champagne. Man does in a few days or a week what it takes Nature to accomplish in two years. He forces carbonic gas into the wine, and he even imitates closely the different bouquets. All is not champagne that sparkles.[2]

Champagne! There is an indescribable charm over, around, and about thee. The very word suggests glitter and bubble and


  1. The word "dry" is used by wine-growers to indicate natural-juice wine, such as claret or Rhine wine, in which no sugar is left after fermentation. As applied to champagnes, "dry" is used to indicate the degree of sweetness, as "dry" and "extra dry" or "special dry." We do not undertake to pass on the comparative merits of the French and American champagnes.
  2. The apparatus for charging wine and formulas for imitating bouquets are given in Antonio dal Piaz's book. Die Champagner-Fabrikation und Erzeugung imprägnirter Schaumweiue. Wien, 1892.