As a new associate to the Ponte Vineyard Inn, I was eager to assist in the pouring of our sparkling wine at check-in.  I grabbed a bottle and figured I’d open it up, “How hard could it be? I see them do it all the time,” I thought.  Seconds after I started to twist the cork I heard a loud pop…the cork was not in my grip and had taken flight.  Luckily no one was hit.  I decided to do some research to get this right.  Here is what I came up with which can save us all from the dreaded flying cork and ensure that none of the precious liquid is wasted…

  1. Chill the bottle in a refrigerator for about three hours or for a half hour in a bucket of ice.
  2. Wrap a small towel or cloth near the neck of the bottle to guard against the slim chance of breakage.
  3. Place one hand firmly on the neck of the bottle with your thumb maintaining pressure on the metal capsule against the cork.
  4. Twist the wire ring about six half-turns counter-clockwise. Remove the wire cage and shift your thumb so as to now sustain pressure just in case the bottle tries to eject the cork prematurely.
  5. Tilt the bottle at a 45 degree angle away from yourself and others. Though they are small, wayward corks can be very dangerous and cause more damage than expected or necessary.
  6. With one hand, hold the cork firmly and with your other hand, slowly twist the bottle. An amateur mistake is to twist the cork instead of the bottle causing the pressure inside the bottle to violently expel the cork.
  7. As you feel the cork begin to loosen and rise, hold it with the back pressure of your palm. Allow the cork to slowly ease out of the bottle. As our owner, Claudio Ponte, would say, it should be, “as quiet as a nun in church.” If this step is done properly, you will hear a gentle “sigh” rather than a loud “pop.”
  8. Tilt your chosen glasses or flutes at an angle and pour a small amount into each vessel.
  9. As the initial foam from pressure buildup subsides, pour more sparkling wine into each glass to your desire.
  10. Enjoy good health, good company and refreshing sparkling wines. Cheers!

Voila!  You are now an expert at the fine art of uncorking bubbly wine.

So, just what is it that puts the bubbly in a bottle of wine?  The difference lies in the fermentation process. After yeast feeds on the sugar naturally present in grapes, the sugar is then converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Once the carbon dioxide bubbles away, the remaining product is a still wine. Alternatively, if the carbon dioxide is captured in the fermenting container for a longer period of time, a sparkling wine will emerge. And not all sparkling wines are champagnes. Unless the wine comes exclusively from the Champagne region of France, it is considered a sparkling wine, not a champagne, even though lots of people use the term interchangeably. Sparkling wines are typically lower in alcohol and produce light bubbles with a touch of sweetness. Currently, Ponte has two options available depending on your preference.

Our 2012 Moscato is packed with appetizing aromas of white flowers, melon and green pineapple and flavors of nectarine, apricot and green apples. This delightful Muscat and Chardonnay blend is a perfect match for citrus desserts as well as breakfast dishes such as Quiche Lorraine.

Our 2011 Rose Spumante is filled with invigorating strawberry, grapefruit and apple essences and aromas of pineapple, apple and pear. It is a Chardonnay and Sangiovese blend that compliments bold cheeses, simple pastas and creates a flawless finish when coupled with chocolate covered strawberries.

–Madelyn Rivera, Guest Services