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approach to a uniform temperature. For
now comes the tug of war. A regiment
of champagne bottles, at this stage of their
existence, are terribly mutinous and
excitable. You wouldn't believe Jean Raisin
to be of so peppeiy a temperament; but
at the least provocation, he becomes a
perfect bottle-imp, bursts into a rage, breaks a
blood-vessel, maims himself for life, and falls
a sacrifice to the violence of his passions. If
the weather is too incendiary, the riot act is
often read, by bringing a cargo of ice; but
the tranquillising arguments generally arrive
too late, after all the mischief is done.

Champagne spends the summer reclining
thus, though too often not reposing, in a
horizontal position. The bursting of the bottles is
simply caused by the formation inside of a
greater quantity of carbonic acid gas than the
vessel of glass has strength to contain.
Purchasers prefer the wine which has exploded in
the largest proportion, and make strict inquiries
as to its performances in this line. If it
had not burst at all, they would have nothing
to say to it. About fifteen per cent is a very
respectable amount of burstage, satisfactory
to all parties. Sometimes it rises to more
than thirty per cent, and then becomes
ruinous to the manufacturer.

In September, and later, after the internal
fermentation and gas-making is nearly
complete, there forms at the lower part of
the bottle a quantity of dark, loose sediment,
looking something like curdled soot,
which would quite spoil the brilliancy
and even the cleanliness of the sample, if
suffered to remain. To get rid of this is
the delicate task that has now to be
undertaken. The bottles have to be placed
sur pointe, as it is called, in their
bottle-racks; that is, leaning with their necks
downward, at an angle of not quite forty
degrees. The sediment has thus a tendency
to sink towards the cork. Each individual
bottle has then to be moved or slightly
twisted, with the least perceptible shock, or
coup de main (increasing the inclination from
time to time), every day for a month or six
weeks, according to the season and the
quality of the wine. It seems an endless and
impossible job to treat in this way the
multitudinous contents of such a cellar as M.
Moët's; but one clever active man can turn
and shake, upon a stretch, as many as fifteen
thousand bottles a day. At last, when the
dark deposit is all got down to the cork, the
wine is ready to submit to the operation
called " dégorger," or disgorging. The workman,
or dégorgeur, who performs it is remarkably
light-fingered. Each bottle is handed to
him, and taken from him, by an attendant
slave on either side. He holds it horizontally,
removes the wire or the iron clasp, takes out
the cork, lets a spoonful of froth spurt out
with a fizz (carrying with it the ugly dregs),
raises the bottle perpendicularly, replaces
the cork, and the feat is done. Like all other
clever tricks, it looks easy enough when
performed adroitly; although, were you and I
to attempt it, we should probably empty the
bottle before we knew that the cork had
stirred. Home-made champagne, to approach
perfection, ought to be treated according
to the same legerdemain.

A first disgorging is seldom sufficient; it
generally has to be followed by a second and
a third. The bottle has again to be laid
sloping, heels upwards, in the rack. An
additional drop of liquor is, now and then,
put in at the subsequent operations. At
the last disgorging, its doom is finally
fixed by a band of five or six executioners,
who sit in silent and solemn row,
with their instruments of torture before
them. The first man wipes off the perspiration
which has settled on its face at the
anticipation of its approaching fate; the second
bleeds it afresh at the neck, as before
described; the third claps it under an iron
vice, in which there is a cylindrical hole of
the same size as the inside of the neck of the
bottle, a screw compresses the cork suffi-
ciently to go in, the man relentlessly knocks
it down with a punch, and the bottle is
gagged; the fourth secures the cork with
string; the fifth secures the string with
wire; and a sixth seizes the iron-bound
victim, and hurries it incontinently nobody
knows where. You guess though, when you
behold, on reaching daylight, a trio of
compassionate women nursing the poor afflicted
sufferers upstairs. The first female wipes off
the sweat of agony with which it is bedewed;
the second binds up its wounds with a
healing-plaister of paste and lead-leaf; the third
wraps it in a paper winding-sheet, and hands
it to a man, the sexton of the champagne
cemetery, who entombs it in a wicker basket,
and scrupulously buries it in clean rye straw.
The sacrifice is ended now. Jean Raisin's
relentless pursuers may at last suck his blood
at their ease.

Champagne is not fit to be thus delivered
up before the May of the second year; so
that a bottle of frothy wine cannot be drunk
till from eighteen to twenty months after it
has been vintaged, at the very soonest. It is
better even the thirtieth month after it has
quitted the parent vine. This, with the trouble,
the loss, and the cellar-rent, make it
impossible that genuine, properly-prepared
champagne should be otherwise than costly.
The maker, merely to pay his outlay, must
dispose of it at a heavy price. Champagne,
therefore, is the wine of the wealthy.
At a second-rate inn in Epernay, the Siren,
which is not without its own particular
fascinations, I paid four francs for a bottle of Ai.
Wine-merchants on the spot cannot let you
have passable Sillery for less than two francs
and a half per bottle. But let not those who
cannot afford to drink champagne envy too
bitterly those who can. The loss is by no
means so great as they fancy. " Which shall

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