Scientists based in the heart of France’s Champagne-Ardenne region have found that larger bubbles may actually improve the way a sparkling wine tastes. Traditionally wine professionals often use bubble size as a marker of quality, with the smaller the bubble the better the wine with larger bubbles usually found in cheaper sparkling wines like Prosecco and Cava.

The researchers used high speed photography to follow exactly what happens to each of the approximately 1 million bubbles in your average glass of Champagne does. Professor Gérard Liger-Belair found that as the bubbles rise to the surface, they make a hexagonal shape before bursting. Then, as the bubble fulfills its destiny and explodes, minuscule drops of Champagne shoot up into the air, where they evaporate and give off aromas. Bubbles can range from 0.4 millimeters to 4 millimeters in diameter. The sweet spot where the most aroma was released was 1.7 millimeters.

Professor Gérard Liger-Belair, a chemical physicist at the University of Reims, who led the research, said: “This result is also remarkable as it undermines the popular belief that the smaller the bubbles, the better the Champagne. Small bubbles were the worst in terms of aroma release.”

Bubble dynamics in Champagne and sparkling wines: Recent advances and future prospects Gérard Liger-Belair and Thomas Séon

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