The bubble man

hotchampagneDo you like champagne? I love it! In fact, if I could afford it, I’d drink champagne pretty much every time I have a glass of wine.

I wish my idle moments were spent pondering philosophical questions or formulating meaningful responses to problems such as poverty, disease and global warming. But, the truth is, I’m a pretty superficial person. Instead, I find myself on the subway or doing the dishes thinking about why some glasses of champagne are ‘hot’ (i.e. very bubbly) while others display just a gentle stream of bubbles.

The glasses in the photo above are identical but the one on the right has many more active bubbles. Why? These glasses of wine were poured at the same time from the same bottle. Shouldn’t the wine behave the same way in each glass?

Answering this dilemma led me to research by Gérard Liger-Belair, the world authority on wine bubbles (seriously, that’s his full time job!) As it turns out, the bubble and flow patterns you see in a glass of champagne can be affected by tiny flaws in a particular glass. In fact, some glasses are even etched to create pits in the glass that will create different flow volume and patterns. The intention isn’t just to give vapid women like me something pretty to look at while they get drunk, but to influence the way the aroma and taste of champagne are experienced.

Obviously, in the case of these two glasses, the effect wasn’t intended by the manufacturer but was the result of inconsistent workmanship. Regardless, it led me to learn something new (if not something useful)! Gawd, I love my job!

What food questions occupy your idle moments?


18 Responses to The bubble man

  1. Dana, you are hardly vapid.

    The food question that occupies my idle moments is, “How does Dana find these things?”

  2. Morgan says:

    Mine tends to be “how can I REALLY stretch out my groceries?” and “what can I REALLY make out of the random stuff in my pantry?” LOL

  3. I never would have come up with the answer on my own, but now that you mention it, it makes a LOT of sense even to a non-science kind of gal! 🙂

  4. danamccauley says:

    Morgan, your questions are enduring ones! I think everyone responsible for thier own household has those questions on their mind.

    Char, you are sweet. In fact, if I had a reader of the day program, you’d get the prize. : )

    Tiffany, I needed help with this answer, too.

  5. Barb says:

    LOL I am soooo glad that someone else is shallow enough to spend time pondering food and drink issues. I wonder every week what I can make that is different and good to plan my menus around for the coming week. Boring to some but opens a mind full of questions for others!

  6. Rosa says:

    As odd as it might sound, I don’t like champagne that much…. I’d rather drink a glass of Clairette de Die!



  7. Don’t call yourself superficial, exploring food issues and food politics is, in some way, important to almost all of us.

    My latest food question is why, all of a sudden, that supermarket block of cheddar won’t melt properly? Seriously, we haven’t been able to make a cheese sauce properly in months. As soon as it melts in congeals again. Yes, it is that gross.

  8. danamccauley says:

    That’s a very curious question indeed! Anyone have clues or theories?

  9. Natashya says:

    I love bubbly! We drink Cava, the poor man’s bubbly but delicious nonetheless.

  10. Diva says:

    Dana, thanks for confirming what I always suspected about the interior of the glass having an effect on the amount of bubbles!

    As for thinking about food – I do far too much of it and usually of the more pedestrian variety … as in what to make for dinner?!

  11. Hélène says:

    Love champagne, a dear friend of mine had a party and to thank us he had really good champagne. I was in heaven.

  12. basicallybaked says:

    I also love champagne. Unfortunately my husband doesn’t share my zest for the bubbly stuff, so I rarely pop a cork unless I have someone else to share with.
    To Natasha who drinks the Cava. Mmmmmm. Poor man’s bubbly is quite good stuff!!
    BTW, I doubt your shallow. The world would be a mighty boring place if we all pondered the same things.
    Oh! About the bubbles. I’ve heard that water marks and scratches in a glass can also cause champagne, and beer to bubble more than a glass without any water marks or scratches.

  13. Sharon Haslam says:

    I don’t know why I get to your blog so late in the day…I don’t even know if anyone reads my late entries–oh well, I still good about contributing and supporting a great Blog! I love champagne–we need to get together and sample some Prosecco–Italy’s answer to the bubbly! With or without fruit puree (a Bellini) it’s my fav!

    • danamccauley says:

      Sharon, if it’s any consolation, I ALWAYS read your comments. And, if my stats are any indication, lots of other people do as well. In fact, my posts often get read for several days (at least) after first publishing.

      And, you’re right. We should get together. We’ve only been talking about it now for what, 3 years?

  14. June Jacobs says:

    How could I have missed this awesome entry?

    Gérard Liger-Belair was one of our professors in the 2007 Haute Études du Gout at l’Univefrsité de Reims, and he solved that problem for us personally. I agree that it is interesting. Just one of the fascinating facets of my favorite beverage, Champagne. (And how cool to study it at its source! 😉 )

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