[The following is an exact transcript of this podcast.]
Let’s raise a toast to champagne. And its ubiquitous bubbles. Because new research says the bubbles aren’t just tickling your tongue. They’re erupting with aromas vital to the taste of the beverage.
A team of (who else) French researchers used mass spectrometry to nose around a glass of champagne. They found that concentrations of certain molecular compounds were higher at the surface of the glass than in the liquid itself. They report the finding in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The scientists say the sea shares champagne’s secret. If you’ve ever enjoyed ocean air, it’s because compounds called surfactants are dragged along with bubbles in the waves. When those bubbles burst, the surfactants break into smaller molecules called aerosols that are suspended in the breeze, giving coastal areas their distinctive oceany odor. In essence, a glass of champagne hosts a small version of this process, but the bubbles bring more appetizing aerosols to the surface.
Legend has it that Dom Perignon shouted “I’m tasting the stars” when he uncorked his first bottle of champagne. But it was physics and chemistry, not astronomy, that he was really savoring.
For more bubbly information, see Champagne Bubbles Liberate Flavor Compounds