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Archive for Friday, August 13, 2010

Scientists study Champagne fizzics

Science backs pouring sideways, much like beer

August 13, 2010

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Champagne is being poured in a “beer-like way,” achieved by tilting the glass and gently sliding the Champagne down its inside wall into the flute, Thursday in Paris to illustrate a theory by French scientists from University of Reims. French scientists there, in the home of Champagne, have determined that pouring bubbly on a slant like you would a beer is actually a better way to serve Champagne because it preserves more of the tiny gas bubbles that improve the drink’s flavor and aromas. Glasses that are chilled more also retain more bubbles.

Champagne is being poured in a “beer-like way,” achieved by tilting the glass and gently sliding the Champagne down its inside wall into the flute, Thursday in Paris to illustrate a theory by French scientists from University of Reims. French scientists there, in the home of Champagne, have determined that pouring bubbly on a slant like you would a beer is actually a better way to serve Champagne because it preserves more of the tiny gas bubbles that improve the drink’s flavor and aromas. Glasses that are chilled more also retain more bubbles.

— French scientists say they have settled a question that has long divided Champagne lovers: How best to pour the bubbly?

At an angle, not straight down.

The scientists at the University of Reims say pouring bubbly at a slant, as you would a beer, preserves more of the tiny gas bubbles that improve the drink’s flavor and aromas.

The study — “On the Losses of Dissolved CO2 During Champagne Serving” — appears this week in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a U.S. publication.

The researchers say they looked at two ways of pouring Champagne: the “traditional” method, with the liquid poured vertically to hit the bottom of the Champagne flute; and the “beer-like way,” executed by tilting the glass and gently sliding in the Champagne.

They say the study matters not just to Champagne drinkers but to glassmakers. They note that the industry is researching a “new generation” of Champagne glasses specially designed to control the release of carbon dioxide, the gas that gives the drink its sparkle.

The researchers used bottles of 2008 vintage from Cooperative Nogent l’Abbesse to examine how the two methods of pouring affected the release of CO2.

They said they used two ways to measure the amount of CO2 in each pouring, and tested bottles chilled to varying degrees. The result: Champagne poured like beer retained more gas than Champagne poured to create a head of “mousse,” or foam.

And the colder the bottle, the less gas was lost, the study found.

It did not say whether professional tasters were called in to confirm their findings, and none of the six researchers could be reached for comment. But their expertise appears formidable: They’re French, their university is in the heart of Champagne country, and lead researcher Gerard Liger-Belair, a professor of chemical physics, is the author of “Uncorked: The Science of Champagne,” a book that appeared in the U.S. in 2004 to admiring reviews.

The study will be presented this month in Boston at a meeting of the American Chemical Society.

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