Scientific study of champagne bubbles

I’m just back from a weekend in the champagne region of France. I tried to make the most of it, and sampled from several bottles of bubbly from local producers and at restaurants. I even toured the Moët et Chandon building and caves.

Timely, then, that there’s a news article today on a study of how champagne’s bubbles impact on our senses.

French researchers used a mass spectrometer to analyse component chemicals as wines effervesce. Led by Professor Gérard Liger-Belair, from the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne in France [their research] revealed “hundreds” of chemical components in bubbles. Many are “organoleptic” – meaning they affect the senses, through taste, odour, colour or feel. “As champagne is poured into a glass, the ascending bubbles collapse and radiate a multitude of tiny droplets above the free surface into the form of refreshing aerosols,” Liger-Belair wrote.

The authors said the aerosols contained an over-concentration of compounds that were either aromatic, or the precursors of aromas. These tended to be “surface active substances” – surfactants – double-ended compounds with one end attracted to water and another that shuns it.

Photo by Waldo Jaquith via Creative Commons license

Photo by Waldo Jaquith via Creative Commons license