December 30, 2016 – Readers of a certain age will recall Don Ho’s famous song “Tiny Bubbles” – Tiny bubbles in the wine/ Make me feel happy/ Make me feel fine. Turns out bigger bubbles would have made him feel even better.
The U.K. Guardian reports that researchers in France’s Champagne-Ardenne region have found that bigger bubbles improve the taste of sparkling wines. Bubbles measuring about 3.4mm improve the release of aerosols in the air above the glass enhancing the aroma and taste as drinkers sip.
Our first question was how on earth did they measure the bubbles? High-speed photography did the trick. Using that technique, maybe one day they will be able to answer the question every tour guide in a sparkling wine facility gets on a regular basis: how many bubbles in the glass?
Larger bubbles are usually associated with lower quality, less expensive sparkling wines such as prosecco, cava or cheap bubbly in the U.S. so the research is quite revolutionary. They also found that chilling the wine helps reduce alcohol, which can overpower delicate flavors, and serving in a Champagne flute also enhances the flavor based on how the bubbles mix in the glass.
Professor Gérard Liger-Belair, a physicist at the University of Reims, led the research. We loved his closing comment: “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.” Amen.