Among all the champagne quotes, Lily Bollinger’s is probably the most famous: “I drink champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad…” But this was 59 years ago. Today, there are sparkling wines of all forms from around the world, and we can easily replace “champagne” with “bubbly” in the quote. Even better, you can now take part in Hong Kong’s biggest sparkling wine pop-up, Bubble Wonderland Sparkling Wine Experience at Fashion Walk in Causeway Bay (19 March–18 April).

Before you embark on this bubbly journey, let’s take a look at how these bubbles come about. There are various methods to create the bubbles, but the most talked about is the champagne method.

Champagne begins life as still wine, but a mixture of sugar and yeast (called tirage) is added in the bottle to induce secondary fermentation. When the bottle is sealed, carbon dioxide produced during this secondary fermentation process cannot escape, thus dissolving in the wine and creating bubbles when the bottle is opened. This method of producing sparkling wine is called the traditional method, or méthode champenoise. The bubbles are much finer, and they produce a tingling sensation. Each bottle consists of an average of 49 million bubbles.

Sparkling wine is also more complex, with bread and biscuit notes, owing to the amount of time the dead yeast (called yeast autolysis) spends inside the bottle (a minimum of 12 months). The longer this period is, the more pronounced the yeast autolysis characteristics are. The dead yeast cells in the bottle are eventually removed through the process of riddling and disgorging, after which dosage (a mixture of wine and sugar) is added to the bottle before it is corked. Since only sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region of France can be called champagne, all sparkling wines made using the same method outside Champagne are labelled as traditional method, méthode champenoise or bottle-fermented.

This traditional method of producing sparkling wine is the most expensive, but champagne is particularly costly, partly because of marketing. A lot of sparkling wines produced outside Champagne can have the same finesse but are more affordable such as those from Australia (in particular Tasmania) and New Zealand. Some countries also have their own names for sparkling wines made in this method including cava from Spain, Winzersekt from Germany and Austria and Cap Classique from South Africa. Crémant is French bottle-fermented sparkling wine made outside Champagne. Southern England has similar soil (chalk) to Champagne, and climate change now enables the nation to reliably ripen champagne varietals and make-top quality sparkling wine.

Bubble Wonderland promises an underground cellar experience. Amongst the activities are:

  • Riddling game – try your hand at turning a sparkling wine bottle in order to move the dead yeast from the bottom to the neck of the bottle
  • Sabrage – open a bottle of sparkling wine using a calvary sword
  • Cap Classique Challenge – test your palate to see if you can identify the champagne
  • Sekt vs Still – compare a German sparkling wine to its former self before bubbles are created

In addition, over 100 champagnes and sparkling wines from around the world, plus popular sparkling wine cocktails, will be showcased and available for tasting from Friday to Sunday and public holidays. Sparkling wine must-have delicacies, including caviar, artisan cheeses and Ibérico ham, will also be offered.

The last part of Lily Bollinger’s quote is, “Otherwise, I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty.” Bubbly is not only for celebration. It is fun and relaxing to drink and can be enjoyed anytime. Drop by this pop-up with friends to learn about and enjoy the magical bubbles in the glass.

Bubble Wonderland pop-up

Dates: 19 March–18 April 2021

Time: 11am–9pm

Location: B/F, 9 Kingston Street, Fashion Walk, Causeway Bay (next to Urban Coffee Roaster)

Price: free entry

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A marketer turned winemaker, I make, promote, judge, write about and drink wine.

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