Champagne Alive! - ©

How Many Bubbles In Your Glass Of Bubbly?

I’ll admit I’ve wondered… How many bubbles are there in a glass of Champagne? Seems frivolous. But it is, in fact, a simple question with a complex answer. And top scientists have been working diligently to resolve the issue…

Gérard Liger-Belair - © 2024 - Le Cordon Bleu

Well… At least one serious scientist got hooked on the question and worked his way through a complex web involving the temperature of the glass, the tilt of the flute, and the ‘bubble dynamics’ of the situation.

Thank Gérard Liger-Belair

According to Le Cordon Bleu, “Gérard Liger-Belair (pictured above), Professor of Physics, and Effervescence, Champagne and Applications team leader at the University of Reims-Champagne-Ardenne in France, is the only researcher in the world to specialise in champagne bubbles.”

Is that a blessing or a burden? No matter. He has acquitted his responsibility admirably.

So important is his work deemed by the powers-that-be that he’s been charged with teaching aDynamics of Champagne Bubbles’ course. Which should come as no surprise since his university ‘home’ is in the heart of France’s Champagne region!

“The idea is to invite the students to take part in a virtual champagne tasting session, which draws on the scientific results we have obtained over the past couple of decades to present the experience from a scientific standpoint, from popping the cork right through to the bubbles fizzing in the glass.”

What he did

The research, included both numerical and physical experiments, and plenty of, “pouring out glasses of Champagne, beer, sparkling water, and sparkling wine.” And the data gathered through those efforts were subjected to extensive mathematical and quantitative analyses.

Study report Co-Author, Brown University Engineering Professor Roberto Zenit, revealed, “Most people have never seen an ocean seep or an aeration tank, but most of them have had a soda, a beer, or a glass of Champagne. By talking about Champagne and beer, our master plan is to make people understand that fluid mechanics is important in their daily lives.”

What he found

The entire study report is available at the American Chemical Society OMEGA archive. But – for all the bubbles involved – it boils down to a few key findings.

First, the common perception of how many bubbles are to be enjoyed in a standard glass of Champagne has been over-estimated by at least one-third. A number of wine experts and self-proclaimed Champagne ‘scholars’ have set the number at about 15 million. In fact, Liger-Belair says, his team has definitively found the number to be closer to 10 million.

Second, the number of bubbles can vary significantly depending on how long it takes you to consume the beverage. And whether you serve it in a standard wine glass, a flat Champagne ‘coupe’ or a a classic tall ‘flute’.

The team even confirmed that the number of bubbles you’ll get depends on whether you pour the libation vertically or down the side of an angled glass.

The takeaway

If you are a bubbles fan, use a flute and pour down the side of the glass. If you are a fluid dynamics engineer, you’ll find the study report an engrossing read.

My take

Bless you, Gérard Liger-Belair! For finally answering the eternal, vexing question of how many bubbles one can expect from a glass of bubbly…

Next time you’re celebrating with Champers, raise a glass to this intrepid investigator!

~ Maggie J.