My wonderful clients in Bethesda, Maryland called a couple of weeks ago to say that they bought us a wedding present and it was too big to be delivered to the office. So we found a day when Gary was going to be home and arranged for UPS to drop it off.
When making champagne, a sediment is produced in the bottles that must be removed prior to final bottling so that the wine is clear and not cloudy. After aging (a minimum from one and a half to three years), the sediment ('lees') must be consolidated for removal. The bottles undergo a process known as riddling (remuage in French), in which they are placed neck first into a specialized rack, and rotated a small amount each day. The goal of remuage is to intermittently turn, slightly shake, and slightly increase the angle of a bottle of champagne over a period of time until all the sediment is in the neck of the bottle.
The entire procedure is repeated every second or third day and can take between two and three months to complete by hand. A good riddler can twist 40 to 50,000 bottles per day; a reasonable quantity when you realise that twenty years ago the rate was 70,000 bottles per day. While some of the more traditional champagne houses maintain the tradition of hand riddling, a device designed for this purpose can fulfill the same task inside of one week.
So my wonderful clients - with logistical input from OCFH Maura, conspired to buy us an authentic French riddling rack that we can use for wine storage. Luckily, we certainly have room for it in the living room!