Traditional method: Riddling

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

The riddling process, known as remuage (or shaking) in French, is one of the most cumbersome (and most publicized) parts of the traditional method, but it is undertaken for cosmetic rather than oenological reasons: to remove the deposit that would otherwise make the wine cloudy (as it does in the méthode ancestrale described below).

Traditionally, bottles were gradually moved from the horizontal to an inverted vertical by hand, by human remueurs or riddlers who would shake them and the deposit every time they moved them towards the inverted vertical position in special pupitres or riddling racks. This was a slow and extremely labour-intensive way of moving the deposit from the belly of the bottle to its neck. The cava industry based in Cataluña developed an automatic alternative in the 1970s, the girasol or gyropalette, which has since been widely adopted for traditional method sparkling winemaking the world over. The bottles are stacked, 504 at a time, in large metal crates, and their orientation changed at regular intervals (including night time, unlike the manual method), with accompanying shake, from the horizontal to inverted vertical by remote control. Using riddling agents, well-adapted yeasts, and gyropalettes, bottles may now be riddled in as little as three days, as opposed to the six weeks or more needed for hand remuage without riddling agents.