A still wine is a wine that does not produce bubbles when the bottle is opened. An effervescent wine is a wine that produces bubbles when the bottle is opened. That said, it should be noted that wine producers make much more still wine than sparkling wine, although the latter is preferred for special occasions.
But the difference between these two drinks has a deeper origin. Bubbles are only the tip of the iceberg. Several things differentiate a still wine from a sparkling wine.
The elaboration of the still wine
The first difference between still wine and sparkling wine is in the winemaking process. The processes used for the vinification of still wine do not include the sparkling stage. However, it is important to know that the same grape varieties are used to produce both still and sparkling wine.
The main difference is in the fermentation process. Indeed, the sparkling wine follows two levels of fermentation before producing bubbles while the vinification of the still wine is done in a single fermentation.
The fermentation of still wine
The first thing is to proceed with the harvest. Then, the grapes are pressed and the juice is stored in large vats for alcoholic fermentation. At this stage, the yeasts eat the natural sugar present in the juice, transforming it into alcohol. At this stage, aromas and carbon dioxide are produced. The deposits are removed at the end of the fermentation. At the end of the fermentation, all the gas produced during the process escapes. Here, therefore, the gas is not voluntarily retained by the pressurization method. In the case of sparkling wine, gas must be retained in the bottle. It is this gas that will later produce bubbles in your glass. We will come back to this.
However, for still wine, it is possible to adjust the CO2 content. This is done in two ways.
This is the process of increasing the CO2 level in the wine. It cannot exceed a limit of 2000 mg/L according to the legal provisions.
It is a matter of bubbling N2 gas to decrease the rate of CO2 already dissolved in the liquid contained in the bottle.
The tasting of still wine is done without effervescence. You do not see any bubbles when you open a bottle of still wine, even less in the glass. However, it is not excluded that a still wine may have a high carbon dioxide content. In this case, you will feel a slight tingling on your tongue as soon as you drink the wine.
As mentioned above, it is the second fermentation that makes all the difference between a still wine and a sparkling wine. Indeed, at the end of the first fermentation as described above, the still wine is clarified and left to rest for weeks. The second fermentation then takes place in December. This stage takes place after the wine has been bottled. A quantity of sugar and yeast is added in each bottle. As in the first case, the yeast eats the sugar and transforms it into alcohol. There is also a production of aromas and carbon dioxide. This remains stuck in the bottle. This is what is called the « prise de mousse » stage. Afterwards, the wine rests for months before the yeast is removed through riddling and disgorging.
Difference in the complexity of the wine making process
It is clear that still wine is easier to obtain than sparkling wine. Moreover, several processes are used in the elaboration of a sparkling wine: the Champagne method, the traditional method, the ancestral method, the Dioise method.
Then, the obtaining of the sparkling wine takes much more time than that of the still wine. A relatively long period is observed before the second fermentation ends.
The selling price
It depends on the characteristics of each wine, but sparkling wine is sold at a much higher price than still wine.
Difference in tasting
Sparkling wine has always been considered as the bottle for special occasions: parties, weddings, anniversaries, parties with great pomp and circumstance, because of its unique taste.
The bubbles in the glass amaze everyone and seem to attest to the grandeur of the event being celebrated. The finer they are, the more exquisite they taste to the taste buds. One cannot say that still wine lacks sensation, but sparkling wine adds that extra something that makes everyone agree.