Science of Champagne – A Toast to the Chemistry of Champagne

Champagne, like any other wine made from grapes that are pressed and stored in special conditions to allow the fermentation led to the transformation into alcohol. So lets bust your friends with this amazing champagne science.

They may already know about French law, which decrees that grapes must be grown in the region of Champagne in order for sparkling wine to qualify as true champagne. But your companions might not know about Henry’s Law, explains a New Year’s themed video produced by the American Chemical Society.

This law of physics states that the pressure of a gas above a solution is proportional to the concentration of the gas within the solution. For champagne, carbon dioxide is the gas that forms those delightful bubbles. And, in an unopened bottle of champagne, there is equilibrium between the CO2 inside the liquid and the gas in the spaces of the cork.

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Popping the cork disturbs this equilibrium, which is only regained as the CO2 bubbles out. To get the most pleasure out of your drink, make sure to pour on an angle, which preserves up to twice as much CO2 compared to pouring into the middle of the glass, found a 2010 paper in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry.

“As the bubbles ascend the length of the glass in tiny trains,” the video explains, “they drag along molecules of flavor and aroma which explode out of the surface, tickling the nose and stimulating the senses.”

Making champagne involves two fermentations that must be done just right to ensure the correct concentration of bubbles in the final product. During the first fermentation, just as for any other kind of wine, yeast eats up sugar molecules in grape juice and releases CO2 and ethanol. The second fermentation traps CO2 inside the liquid.

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This process is not easy. During the 1600s, when Dom Pérignon is rumored to have discovered champagne (or at least helped perfect it), bottles sometimes ended up with no bubbles. Other times, CO2 levels were so high that bottles exploded.

If you really want to be the life of the party, you may want to pull out a microscope at this point. Under magnification, according to the ACS, you can witness exploding bubbles deforming neighboring bubbles. Now, watch as “gorgeous flower shaped structures blossom and then disappear in the blink of an eye.”

Editor explanation of the champagne science

The variation to champagne, is held at the champagne (technical term for thetransformation of wine into champagne) this corresponds to adding white wine yeastpreviously formed to cause a second fermentation. Now the products of afermentation reaction is the formation of alcohol molecules but also molecules of carbon dioxide, whose formula is CO2, which is commonly called carbon dioxide.

This carbon dioxide is far and after the fermentation reaction, dissolves in the liquid. But these CO2 molecules have only one thing in mind is to escape and resume their gaseous state, what they will do once they are nolonger held in a tightly closed container. So more precisely as soon as one opens the bottle.

Scientists note at the same time that if the cork skips, when you open the bottle, it’s also because of the pressure caused by the dissolved gas escapes.

To give an order of magnitude, it is considered that if CO2 was in the gaseous state, it would represent a volume of 5 liters in one bottle of champagne. CO2 escapes as bubbles but also and mainly to the contact surface between air and champagne, by diffusion.

However those bubbles in a more practical, how are they formed? what is their origin?

For understanding, we must start from a clean glass. . The champagne bubbles are formed from the impurities found in the container in whichthe champagne is poured. These impurities can be of any nature, limestone deposits, scale, cellulosic fibers from the cloth used to wipe the glass or dust suspended in the air that came to settle in the same glass.

In short, when the champagne is poured into the cup … or the flute … or glass available, a microscopic gas pocket is trapped by these impurities and it is from them that the bubbles of carbon dioxide will form the champagne. Because they will some how feel freed from the pressure of the liquid around them.

This means, surprisingly, in a perfectly clean glass, champagne does not have a bubble!This does not stop to consider the quality of champagne in terms of its effervescence.

Attention, the abuse of alcohol is dangerous for health.

Editor Nisha Loyalka

Follow Nisha on Twitter 

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