Finding its roots in the 17th century, sparkling wine’s lived a long life of celebration, helping retain sparkle and inspire the signature opening pop. It’s a small-but-mighty piece to sparkling wine production, so read about its purpose and its proper use, for an even greater appreciation of that bottle of bubbly.
Months of meticulous winemaking culminate in magical bubble-inducing touches, topped off with a cork as the final seal. That signature sparkle doesn’t just look beautiful; bubbles help the bouquet reach your nose to make each sip more well-rounded –– proper sealing is what makes sure they’re in the bottle waiting when you come along.
It’s the internal pressure created by the secondary bottle fermentation and preserved by the cork that keeps bottles bubbly until opened. A special hydraulic corker jaw compresses each cylindrical cork and pushes it down so that it fits half-way into the bottle. Still wine can be sealed with similar types of corks as sparkling. But that distinct mushroom shape all sparkling fans recognize is created by the building of pressure against the internal glass walls of the bottle, as the cork is trying to return to its original cylindrical shape.
Over time, that compression force creates the mushroom shape of the cork. The younger the wine the faster the cork will expand back after opening. Older sparkling wine corks will stay in the same shape as when you first open the bottle, with almost no expansion.
We like to think of that pressure as anticipation.
That pressure pleas for a touch of protection, so in 1735, a French royal ordinance declared corks be additionally secured, eventually resulting in the wire hoods now seen on sparkling corks. While the wire hoods play a practical role, the foil wrapping is there largely for decoration.
Whether it’s a swanky soiree or just an informal gathering with friends, it’s time to pop that bottle of Mumm Napa. Never point the bottle toward yourself or others. First, remove the foil and then untwist the wire hood, keeping one thumb over the top of the hood to prevent the cork from moving. Then, with a good grip, wrap the palm of one hand around the cork, and with the other hand, hold the bottom of the bottle and twist the bottle from there. Twisting the bottle instead of the cork gives you more control and leads to an easy and classy opening.
As a note, never try to pry the cork free or use a corkscrew.
Put simply, the best option for sparkling wine is to enjoy it right away. But if you’re going to prolong the moment a bit, be sure to keep it cold: cold keeps the bubbles alive longer.
If you simply must save it for another time, it’s best to cover the bottle with a “Champagne” stopper. You can get one of these simple tools for about $10 [there’s an elegant one in the Mumm Napa store). They can be effective at prolonging the wine by as much as 3-5 days.
Now that you know the why and how behind the cork, and the relevant tools to open and preserve an opened bottle, pop your next bottle of Mumm Napa bubbly and illuminate the moment.