, Volume 201, Issue 1, pp 1-88
Date: 12 Mar 2012

The physics behind the fizz in champagne and sparkling wines

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Bubbles in a glass of champagne may seem like the acme of frivolity to most of people, but in fact they may rather be considered as a fantastic playground for any physicist. Actually, the so-called effervescence process, which enlivens champagne and sparkling wines tasting, is the result of the fine interplay between CO2 dissolved gas molecules, tiny air pockets trapped within microscopic particles during the pouring process, and some both glass and liquid properties. Results obtained concerning the various steps where the CO2 molecule plays a role (from its ingestion in the liquid phase during the fermentation process to its progressive release in the headspace above the tasting glass as bubbles collapse) are gathered and synthesized to propose a self-consistent and global overview of how gaseous and dissolved CO2 impact champagne and sparkling wine science. Physicochemical processes behind the nucleation, rise, and burst of gaseous CO2 bubbles found in glasses poured with champagne and sparkling wines are depicted. Those phenomena observed in close-up through high-speed photography are often visually appealing. I hope that your enjoyment of champagne will be enhanced after reading this fully illustrated review dedicated to the science hidden right under your nose each time you enjoy a glass of champagne.