Non-MCC Sparkling Wines
Are they just gas in wine?
The majority of South African sparkling wines are made using the Methode Cap Classique tradition, which replicates the Champagne method of making sparkling wine. However, not all sparkling wine producers in South Africa follow the MCC method, and some drinkers prefer to avoid the MCC wines, instead choosing Non-MCC wines which still have sparkle and style. There are a number of wine makers willing to produce good quality non-MCC sparkling wines, but they are not making huge cellars full of the stuff, and so it can be rather pricy to purchase a wine with bubbles which has not been exposed to the MCC method.
There are several reasons why people may prefer to drink non-MCC sparkling wines. Some people, for example, prefer to avoid yeasts as much as possible, and this makes the traditional Champagne method an impossibility for them. Others are worried about the amount of sugar which is contained in MCC wines, where there are at least 3 types of sugar in the bottle (fruit, fermented sugars, and rock sugar). This can make the wines excessively high in sugars, and those trying to avoid sugary foods may prefer to try a non-MCC sparkling wine.
Although most sparkling wine producers in South Africa are making their wines according to the fermentation methods, there are a few who can offer non-MCC sparkling wine to the domestic market. There are two ways that the wine can be produced other than the Methode Cap Classique. The first is the Metodo Italiano, also known as the Charmat process. This was developed in Italy, and is still the primary method of producing sparkling wine from Italian grapes. In this process, the wine is fermented as usual, and then the liquid is transferred into a stainless steel tank, where yeast and sugars are added. The tank is then capped with an enamel top, preventing carbon dioxide from escaping, and lowering the risk of bacterial infection. Another method is to try and produce the bubbles in sparkling wine by simply injecting carbon dioxide gas into the wine. This method of making sparkling wines has been forbidden in some areas, such as the EU, but it does effectively reduce the amount of sugars and yeasts involved in the production of the wines. Once the wine has been injected with the carbon dioxide, it is sealed in the bottle and then sold. Unlike the other processes, this is much faster and cheaper, allowing for more cost-effective production of sparkling wines.
South African sparkling wine fans who would like to drink Non-MCC can find a few winemakers who are willing to produce sparkling wines without fermenting in the bottle. It is not always easy to find out what sparkling wines are produced using which methods, so it is a good idea to ask, as well as research using guides such as John Platters. The number of non-MCC sparkling wine producers in South Africa is small, so it is a good idea to look online before trying to find a maker in your local area.