Last updated January 8, 2018 at 8:45 am
Does anything herald the imminent arrival of a good time more than the pop of a champagne cork?
While champagne may be the preferred tipple for celebrating another rotation around the Sun, the tongue-tingling bubbles in this party elixir do more than get you in a dancing mood. But it’s not as straightforward as you may think.
Critics will often commend fancy bottles of champagne for the fine, delicate bubbles that rise from the glass.
A bottle of Goût de Diamants can go for as much as $2.07 million dollars. So, at this price you’d be wanting the most elegant effervescence, right?
Scientists think not.
In fact, a study has shown the exact opposite: bigger bubbles make the champagne taste better.
Professor Gérard Liger-Belair, from the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne, told The Guardian: “This result is remarkable as it undermines the popular belief that the smaller the bubbles, the better the champagne. Small bubbles were the worst in terms of aroma release.”
Large bubbles dramatically increase the number of aerosols in the air above the glass resulting in a more intense flavour when you delve in to take a sip.
It’s the way which the bubbles collect at the surface of the champagne that really determines its flavour.
Using high-speed photography and other imaging techniques, Liger-Belair and co-workers discovered what happens to a champagne bubble as it makes its way to the top of your glass. They found that the bubbles form a honeycomb structure on the surface of the Champagne before they burst.
When one eventually collapses, it triggers an avalanche of bubble popping that throws a number of tiny droplets into the air.
This study is one of a series that this lab has performed to make sure your Champagne experience is the absolute best it can be.
For those whose favourite tipple is Champagne, Liger-Belair has these tips for maximum enjoyment:
- Chilling champagne can help to reduce the amount of alcohol carried in each bubble, which can prevent more delicate flavours from being overpowered.
- Cooling a bottle of champagne to 4°C can also help reduce the speed of the cork as it leaves the bottle, preventing accidents and reducing party collateral damage.
- Studies have confirmed that tilting the glass when pouring can also help prevent it from overflowing.
- Drinking from a flute rather than a wider glass can help to enhance the flavour because of how bubbles mix in a glass.
Although it may seem like a great field to study, the researchers are in it for more than just the free samples of bubbly they presumably get to take home, “bubbles in a glass of champagne may seem like the acme of frivolity to most people, but in fact they may be considered a fantastic playground for any fluid physicist,” said Liger-Belair.
This party season it’s all about the bubbles and science agrees.