I decided to read up on the history and production process of sparkling wine, since it was to be my choreographic inspiration for Pairings. I found it interesting that the carbonation of some wines (which made them “sparkling”) observed throughout history was not always fully understood. The appearance of the bubbles was once attributed to phases of the moon, as well as the presence of good or evil spirits.
Sparkling wine goes through the primary fermentation process in the same way that most other wines do. It is through a secondary fermentation process that sparkling wine is distinguished from production of other wines, and given the characteristic “bubbles”. One of the byproducts of fermentation is the creation of carbon dioxide gas. While this gas is able to be released during the first fermentation, efforts are taken during the second fermentation to retain the gas and have it dissolve into the wine. This creates a massive amount of pressure within the wine bottle and wine producers take care to package the wine in thicker glass bottles. When the wine is open and poured into a glass, the gas is released and the wine becomes sparkling. The pressure of carbon dioxide gas is also what causes the “pop” of a champagne cork as it is removed.
Inspired by the intricate production process I had read about, I decided to bring each of the three dancers on and off the stage at different times, staggering their entrances and exits. The first fermentation process creates carbonation, but the carbonation dissipates… however during the second fermentation process, the carbonation is contained as the carbon dioxide dissolves into the wine, permeating it with energy, lightness, and effervescence.
As the wine is poured, there’s an initial burst of fizz as it hits the glass, but the bubbles gradually all rise to the top and the gas dissipates into the air and out of the wine. The wine, depending on how long it stays unconsumed in the glass, could eventually lose all of its fizz. Through my choreography, I attempted to allude to not only the double fermentation process and chemical interactions that occur, but also the gradual settling of the wine once it has been poured, as one dancer at a time makes their exit off stage.