Have you ever wondered why Traditional Method-fermented sparkling wines have a loner capsules than their still counterparts? Champagnes, Cavas, Franciacortas, and even some Proseccos, all carry a regal look through them. Today, they exist. Though now it’s merely for look and feel, however, it served a bigger purpose in the past.
Traditional Method-fermented wines go through second fermentation within the same bottle that they are packaged and sold in, and finally served from. Post this fermentation, the wine rests on lees, then riddled, and finally disgorged. However, earlier in the days, when the understanding of the process was limited, let alone complete control over them, winemakers had a conundrum at hand. They didn’t know how to compensate for the wine lost during disgorgement. Dosage hadn’t come in just yet. It’s believed that to cover up the oddly filled bottles, and the embarrassment it brought along, winemakers covered these vacant spaces with longer capsules. Sitting on the shelves, with such a long sleeve of shining, bright golden, sturdy foils, this small little trick would easily draw the attention of the consumer elsewhere.
While these concerns are now passe, other reasons now quoted are tradition, heritage, visual identity, and consumer expectations. Further, producers don’t mind them either. After all, they gain extra area to display their branding, flash their insignias, and boast of the accolades won at various competitions.
Another practical, and more buyable, reason often quoted is that of hygiene. Since sparkling wines can be stored for long, ideally in dark, damp, silent spaces they tend to develop moulds, and the foil then comes to the rescue.
Also, these storage conditions are ideal for bugs, rodents, and insects, and having a longer capsule prevents them from gnawing on the corks. Now that makes sense, but, to some extent. The argument presented to this is that a smaller foil, like in still wines, would do the job as well. Think of a Dom Perignon bottle, isn’t it?
Irrespective of which side of the fence the jury may sit on, it still continues to interest wine aficionados about the history, the true purpose, and the future of the this age-old trend. New World producers, and some Prosecco houses, are now moving towards smaller or complete absence of foils on their bubblies. While these may not completely be at a higher risk of spoilage, but then these aren’t the choicest bottles for investment purposes either.
Nonetheless, where these arguments may head in the future, once thing is certain – Long capsules on sparkling wine bottles are now redundant.