Research

A Toast!

When you lift a glass of champagne or sparkling wine at midnight tonight, your nose and mouth will be greeted by a plethora of aromas, flavors, and sensations propagated by the tiny bubbles in the drink. Carbon dioxide dissolved in the wine gathers in a stream of tiny bubbles that rise at the center of the glass. (The bubbles form at the center because champagne glasses are often etched in a ring there to provide nucleation points where the bubbles can grow.) This stream of rising bubbles generates vortical motion in the glass that helps carry the carbon dioxide to the surface, where it is released when the bubbles burst. In the tall, thin champagne flute these vortices mix the entire contents of the glass, but, in a wider coupe, the vortices are confined to the center, leaving a stiller region along the glass’s edges. For those who find that a freshly poured flute of champagne stings their noses–a side effect of the high gaseous carbon dioxide concentration just after decanting–the wider coupe lowers the concentration at the glass’s lip and may provide a more pleasant experience for toasting the new year. (Image credit: F. Beaumont et al.)

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