tiny bubbles, better bubbly

Want the best champagne for your New Year’s Eve bash? Look for the bubbly with the smallest bubbles, report French scientists in the Dec. 17 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Gerard Liger-Belair of the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne in France (where else?) and his colleagues found that champagne’s uniquely tiny, rising bubbles are the key to its aroma and flavor, and the more you have, the better. Smaller bubbles mean you’ll have more bubbles to pick up and release the wine’s flavor and aroma molecules as they burst onto the surface of the liquid, creating the refreshing zing of a good champagne. The researchers studied bubble formation and found that carbon dioxide, surprisingly, was not the main factor in determining bubble size in champagne, as it is in other beverages. Rather, dissolved salts, carbohydrates, and minerals in the wine play a much larger role than previously thought. They hope to develop a computer model that will help them create the perfect bubble. Liger-Belair, who is also a consultant with Moet & Chandon, flatly stated, “Our ultimate goal is to create smaller bubbles in champagne wines.” We’ll toast to that.

This news brief appeared in the Random Data column of the Boston Globe’s Health/Science section on 12/30/2003.
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