For the second alcoholic fermentation in the sparkling wine bottle, yeast is added to the base wine. This yeast needs to be removed before the sekt is sold (the so called “remuage“). If this yeast (which is no longer active) is not removed, the sekt would be cloudy. To remove the yeast deposit, the sekt bottles are initially placed in a wooden riddling rack (manual riddling, also called pupitres or riddling board) or a riddling machine (mechanical riddling). A riddling rack traditionally has space for 60 sekt bottles per side, totaling 120 bottles. On the other hand, a riddling machine (also known as a gyropalette) can hold 504 bottles.
The bottles are now rotated (riddled) by a few degrees each day for a period of 3 to 4 weeks, gradually transitioning from a horizontal to an almost vertical position. During manual riddling, the bottle is typically riddled between 24 and 32 times before it reaches the final upside-down position (sur pointe). The riddling process on the riddling racks often takes more time, sometimes up to three months. Through riddling (usually by an eighth turn or a quarter turn), the yeast deposit slowly sinks into the bottle neck. Once the yeast is completely positioned inside the bottle neck, the riddling process is completed, and the yeast can be removed through disgorgement.
Did you know: In the past, there used to be a profession called “Remueur“, the riddler in every sekt house, who performed the manual riddling during the production of sparkling wines using the traditional bottle fermentation method. As a positioning aid, the Remueur often marked the bottle bottom with a white chalk line. Experienced riddlers, who are rarely found nowadays, can riddle 30.000 to 40.000 bottles per day.
Is there a qualitative difference between manual and mechanical riddling of champagne bottles?
In terms of taste and effervescence of the sparkling wine, no difference can be observed between manual and mechanical riddling. In our Sekthaus, we still use both riddling methods.