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Champagne/Cider Remuage: Why not just place the bottle upside down (90 degrees)?

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nks

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I'm making hard sparkling apple cider using the Champagne method (re-fermenting on the bottle for carbonation). This year I will try the full method of also removing the yeast lees from the bottle afterwards, which I have previously just left there.

Now I'm wondering why one would actually go through all the hassle of the classical "Remuage". instead of just placing the bottle upside down directly for some days after the fermentation has finished in the bottle, to let the lees sink to the cork. Why all the turning and angling, what is it good for?

The classical method briefly: In the classical method removing the lees (called Remuage) involves placing the bottles horizontally for the initial 2nd fermentation, then slowly over a period of some months lowering the bottle neck to eventually a 75 degrees position while turning the bottles 25 times. Then eventually popping off the bottle cap/cork to remove the lees which by then has settled on to of the cork.

What I wanna do instead (because it's much easier): After bottling the champagne bottles with a small amount of sugar for 2nd fermentation in the bottles (to build up carbonation), I will just rest the bottles horizontally for a couple of months. Then, maybe a week before popping the caps to remove the lees, I would place them vertically (upside down) to let the lees fall to the caps. To me that seems to be at least as effective as the classical method for removing the lees - but then - why do all the champagne producers do it the other way? What is it that I'm not seeing?

Hope someone can cast some insightful light on the matter.
 

madscientist451

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I'm making hard sparkling apple cider using the Champagne method (re-fermenting on the bottle for carbonation). This year I will try the full method of also removing the yeast lees from the bottle afterwards, which I have previously just left there.

Now I'm wondering why one would actually go through all the hassle of the classical "Remuage".
I'm wondering why you really want to go through the hassle of the disgorgement process, unless its just something you want to try.
Its a pretty big investment in time and effort and for a small return.
The Champagne method disgorges the sediment/yeast so when a glass of champagne is poured and then the bottle is set down, the next pour isn't cloudy from yeast that settled on the bottom of the bottle. If you simply use 12 oz beer bottles, re-ferment (bottle condition) in those and then carefully pour out all the cider at once, you won't have any cloudy cider from a second pour. You can get 8 oz. beer bottles for homebrewing, but they are a little expensive.
Beer bottles are supposed to be able to hold 3 volumes of pressure, and higher volumes could cause bottle bombs, but I've had many overcarbed beers over the years without bottle bombs, so I think you can push the level higher, but I'm not recommending it.
Machines have been developed to automate the riddling process, what used to take 6 weeks or longer, now takes about a week.
If you could simply take a bottle from horizontal to vertical and be certain that all the yeast had settled to the neck, they would have developed a machine to do that.
I'd say try your idea, and see if it works for you.
 

Johnny_M

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What I wanna do instead (because it's much easier): After bottling the champagne bottles with a small amount of sugar for 2nd fermentation in the bottles (to build up carbonation), I will just rest the bottles horizontally for a couple of months. Then, maybe a week before popping the caps to remove the lees, I would place them vertically (upside down) to let the lees fall to the caps. To me that seems to be at least as effective as the classical method for removing the lees - but then - why do all the champagne producers do it the other way? What is it that I'm not seeing?
The reason I think is because of aging sur lie, or on the lees. When you keep the bottles on the side much more of your cider is exposed to the lees because of the greater surface area. By reducing the surface area you may not get as complex a flavor from aging. That said the champagne cider I make sits in bottles for 6 months. One of my batches this year will go for 18. If your times are shorter than that the cider may not see a benefit from sur lie aging.
 
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