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15773.  Wed Mar 02, 2005 11:51 am Reply with quote

This was something I heard a while ago. Don’t know how well known it is generally, but worth a post.

Q. What causes champagne to bubble?

A. Dirt.

Liger-Belair, an associate professor of physical sciences at the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne, used sophisticated photographic equipment to observe what really happens inside the glass. The bubbles consist of carbon dioxide dissolved in the liquid during the méthode champenoise fermentation process. Scientists have long known that these CO2 molecules need a niche of some sort to form bubbles; in a perfectly smooth glass, the molecules would evaporate singly and invisibly.

Conventional wisdom is that tiny pits and gouges in the wall of a champagne flute serve as bubble-formation sites. But Liger-Belair found that the imperfections of an average wine glass are far too small for that purpose. Instead, what gives birth to the bubble is, ahem, dirt—dust particles on the glass, or cellulose strands from the dish towel used to dry it.,13673,501050110-1013288,00.html

15814.  Fri Mar 04, 2005 4:31 am Reply with quote

From a book review by New Statesman:

Liger-Belair also reveals that Dom Perignon was originally employed by his wine-making abbey to get the bubbles out of champagne. The French aristocracy of the 17th century loathed them, which confirms my long-held view that most French people, for all their vinous reputation, actually know sod all about wine. It was not until the return of Charles II to the British throne that the good times started to roll for fizz and Dom Perignon reversed his efforts. Then, as now, the English were partial to a bit of bubbly.

769047.  Wed Dec 22, 2010 4:15 pm Reply with quote

I had previously heard that the bubbles were formed due to imperfections. I had dismissed this when I started home-brewing as secondary fermentation caused the carbonation of beer, as yeast produces CO2 under pressure.

Furthermore the bubbles simply cannot be caused by the flute as they already exist in the bottle. The yeast itself dies and it’s tiny skeletons sink to the bottom of the bottle in the form of sediment.

Then bubbles may well remain on the glass due to microscopic “dirt” or more likely the texture of dry glass itself. Think about lager and the way it has a head, then remind yourself that even a warm glass taken directly from a steam cleaner will retain a head.


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