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Dec. 30, 2010

Does a Silver Spoon Help Keep Champagne Bubbly?

by Leslie Taylor

Click to enlarge images

Video posted by CottonBudda

Did you know that each bottle of champagne holds up to 20 million bubbles? And can effervesce at the rate of 400 bubbles per second? (Compared with effervescence of 150 bubbles per second by beer.) But what happens to your bubbly if you don't finish the bottle and can't recork it? There is an old wives' tale that dangling a silver spoon down the neck of a champagne bottle will preserve the bubbles. To see if there was any truth to this notion, the Mythbusters crew conducted a little experiment that you can see in the video above.

They found the old wives were perhaps mistaken about the effectiveness of the spoon trick. However, the team at Kumkani wines conducted a similar (and more rigorous) test that achieved a different result.

On the Kumkani blog, the wine enthusiasts explained their experimental design that consisted of:

* -Opening two bottles.
* -Pouring a standard glass from each and photographing the wine in the glass.
* -Drinking the wine and recording our impressions – this was a terribly important step and one we had to repeat often.
* -Returning the bottles to the fridge, one with a spoon in it and one without.
* -As the bottles cooled down over the next few hours, recording the temperature in the bottle before repeating the process until the bottles were empty.

Size distribution of bubble in a glass of champagne. Photo credit: Kumkani

 

Interestingly, the Kumkani team found that the shape of the curve of bubble size distribution (at left) did not change regardless of how flat the wine was. Plus, the number of bubbles was actually higher when the spoon had been dangled in the glass when compared to bottles with no spoon! So in case you don't finish your bottle of bubbly this New Year's Eve, the spoon trick might be worth a try.

Also, if you'd like to impress your friends with your vast knowledge of champagne, check out this video by the Wall Street Journal in which Robert Lee Hotz talks about the history and science of sparkling wine.

Plus, tomorrow on Science Friday, chemist Richard Zare and food writer Harold McGee discuss the proper protocol for enjoying sparkling wines this New Year's Eve. After the broadcast, you can hear the audio here.

Happy New Year!

About Leslie Taylor

Leslie is the online editor at Workboat.com and NationalFisherman.com. She has a background in oceanography and is passionate about getting non-scientists and young people to realize how cool science can be. She is also Science Friday's former web editor.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

Science Friday® is produced by the Science Friday Initiative, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Science Friday® and SciFri® are registered service marks of Science Friday, Inc. Site design by Pentagram; engineering by Mediapolis.

 

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