Riddling is the term used for consolidating and removing sediment from champagne bottles.
The champagne bottles are placed in a pupitres, or an A frame wooden wine rack. Every 1 to 3 days the bottles are given an abrupt shake and downward tilt and placed back in the pupitre. After several weeks the sediment in the bottle collects in the neck of the bottle.
When riddling is finished, the sediment collected in the bottle neck is frozen to form a "plug" which the next step in the process removes (dégorgement or "disgorging"). After adjusting the level of fill and setting the sweetness, the product is corked, caged, labeled, and shipped.
Sediment collected in the bottle after riddling occurs.
How Riddling Came to be:
Madame Nicole-Barbe Clicquot (of Veuve Clicquot) was not a fan of theoften cloudy appearance of Champagnes of the early 1800s. Upon her husband's death, the young widow became head of Veuve Clicqot Champagne . Determined to improve the appearance of her product, she found that shaking the bottles loosened sediment stuck to their sides. To get the deposits closer to the neck, she used gravity, cutting holes in her kitchen table to place the bottles upside down. In 1810, she employed Anton Muller to improve and refine the process that came to be called riddling.
Madame Cliquot on champagne cork topper